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43% of new homes built between 1990 and 2010 occupy Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) areas where houses and wildland vegetation meet or intermix, raising the risk of wildfires. Even though WUI makes up less than one-tenth of U.S. land area, the number of homes in those areas grew by 12.6 million, according to the new study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Wired reports:

Fires aren’t the only problem here. Rainstorms over fire-denuded hillsides cause mudslides. Coastal cities expanding across their floodplains and onto barrier islands become more vulnerable to hurricanes and storm surges. Wide, low cities eventually cover land that was once agricultural.

According to Wired, homes built on outskirts can worsen climate change by emitting more carbon than denser cities, and climate change makes wildfires and other natural disasters more frequent and severe.

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