ARE Ph.D. Candidate Joakim Weill and ARE Ph.D. Alumnus Matthieu Stigler Contribute to NBER Working Paper "Exposures and Behavioral Responses to Wildfire Smoke"
Nov. 4, 2021
The newly published research focuses on understanding responses to wildfire smoke, a rapidly growing environmental stressor throughout much of the US and internationally. Annual area burned by wildfires in the US has more than doubled in recent decades, a result of a century of fire suppression and a warming climate that has left the resulting abundant fuel much more flammable. This increase in fire activity has led to substantial increases in average smoke exposure across the continental US, potentially reversing decades of improvements in air quality. Absent substantial intervention, these trends are expected to continue and perhaps accelerate in a warming climate
The authors of the NBER working paper used a combination of traditional sensor and survey data along with non-traditional sensors—such as cell phones and social media posts—to generate population-scale insights into people’s knowledge, preferences, and choices regarding a changing environment, and into how economic circumstances shape their choice set. Their results suggest that the current policy reliance on self protection to mitigate health risks in the face of rising smoke exposure will result in modest and unequal benefits.
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