Living (Dangerously) in an Era of Megafires | Paul Hessburg | TEDxBend


Paul Hessburg is on a mission. The #PacificNorthwestResearchStation research ecologist has given more than 70 presentations and reached over 16,000 people as part of “The Era of Megafires,” a touring multimedia presentation that presents ideas on how we can shift our cultural views about fire. Hessburg’s talk draws on his three decades of fire and landscape ecology research and engages citizens in fire-prone communities across the west in conversations about wildfire. His outreach continues through the summer and fall, with stops scheduled across the west. He recently presented his talk as part of TEDxBend; check it out!



We have all seen the news–hotter summers, and bigger, badder wildfires. What’s going on? How did we get here?Paul tells a fast-paced story of western US forests–unintentionally yet massively changed by a century of management. He relates how these changes, coupled with a seriously hotter climate, have set the stage for this modern era of megafires. He offers clear tools for changing course, a sense of urgency, and a thought-provoking call to community action.

As an expert on forest landscapes, Paul Hessburg aims to understand why wildfires are getting bigger and hotter, and how they got that way. Hessburg has spent more than 3 decades researching changes that have taken place in the fire-prone western landscapes, what caused them, and how they differ from place to place. Along with a revved up climate, these changes have created conditions ripe for the rise of what he and others call megafires. How do our forest management techniques affect the legacy we leave our children? Hessburg’s recent book, Making Transparent Environmental Management Decisions, offers compelling new insights into using modern-day decision support systems to plan for forest restoration.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at