UC Berkeley professor Scott Stephens, a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network, has spent over 30 years studying wildfire in California. He spoke with us recently about what it will take to preserve the state’s forests in an era of increasingly catastrophic wildfires. … Even small fires now can pose threats to life and property. Are we in a new phase of climate change? There’s no doubt that climate change is having an impact, but I estimate that climate change is no more than 25% of the problem. I think it’s 75% forest structure—I don’t have a paper to back that up, that’s just my intuition from working in this field for 30 years.