Every year like clockwork, we start hearing stories about “unprecedented” wildfires in the North American West. One million acres in Oregon and 3 and 1/2 million acres in California are now on fire. In San Francisco, cinder and ash have turned the skies a hellish red. At least 23 people have died, dozens more are missing and well over 3,000 homes have been destroyed this fire season. The damage is not just limited to California and Oregon. At least 10 western states have major blazes underway at the current time. If it seems like things are getting worse, well, you’re right. According to the Monitoring Trends and Burn Severity program, since 2015, there have been a hundred more large wildfires every single year. Richard C. Keller’s a professor of history and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has written a book called Fatal Isolation: The Devastating Paris Heat Wave of 2003 and is currently working on a global history of the environment.