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The Post-Wildfire Dilemma: Rebuild or Retreat?

Even after experiencing devastating wildfires, residents are often willing to take the risk to return and start over.
July 23, 2019, 11am PDT | Camille Fink
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Jeff Turner

The threat of climate change means communities are facing hard questions about their futures, writes James Temple. "When should communities stay or go? Who gets to decide? And how do you ask—or force—an entire community to pick up and leave?"

Temple takes a closer look at developments in Paradise, California, which was devastated last year by the massive Camp Fire. While some residents have relocated, others want to rebuild, and they are opposing proposals for stricter safety standards and building regulations.

Paradise residents say changing the laws will add costs to rebuilding and cutting down trees will change the character of the town. "People will fight against higher seawalls that lower their property values or block their views. But they’ll also resist abandoning their homes," says Temple.

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Published on Thursday, July 11, 2019 in MIT Technology Review
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