A Colorado fire scientist on her hometown burning

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In Colorado, clean-up continues from the devastating Marshall Fire that began last week. The fire that destroyed hundreds of homes has been brought under control, but after the most devastating fire in the state’s history, many residents still have a long way to go in recovery.

  • Also, Jonathan Swann on the position of the GOP a year after the January 6 attacks.
  • And, we’ll be covering healthcare worker burnout, so we’re asking for your stories.
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Guest: Dr. Natasha Stavros, fire scientist at the University of Colorado, and Nerdshala’ Jonathan Swann.

credit: Nerdshala Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sarah Kehoulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Lydia McMullen-Layard, Sabina Singhani and Alex Sugiura. The music is composed by Ivan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected] You can text questions, comments, and story ideas to Niyala as text or voice memos at 202-918-4893.


go in:

  • Biden’s furious 2024 preview
  • Climate scientists grapple with wildfire disaster in their backyards

Good Morning! Welcome to Axis Today!

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January 7 is Friday.

I am Niala Boodhu.

Here’s what you need to know today: Jonathan Swann on the state of the GOP a year after the January 6 attacks. Also: We’ll be covering healthcare worker burnout – we’re asking for your stories.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: A fire scientist is burning down on his hometown.

Niala: I think it’s easy to lose sight of what’s going on after a natural disaster, even after the national news and headlines are quiet. In Colorado, clean-up continues from the devastating Marshall Fire that began last week. And yet – there’s a fire destroying hundreds of homes fully containedBut many residents are still far from recovering after the most devastating fire in the state’s history.

Joining us from Colorado is Dr. natasha stavros, a fire scientist at the University of Colorado who has been studying megafires for more than a decade. Hi Natasha!

Natasha: Hi, thanks for having me.

NIALA: Natasha, you’re a fire scientist. What was going through your mind as you watched the plume of smoke from the martial fire?

Natasha: Well, I was sitting on my couch and I looked out of my window in the direction she was located. And I saw a big plume and my immediate thought was like, this is really bad because we had 105 to 120 mph winds. And this is actually the first time that in my more than 10 years of experience I have felt comfortable saying that this is a climate fire.

Niala: So when you say it’s a climate fire, can you give us a really quick understanding of why you think that?

Natasha: There are three elements in fire. It has ignition, it has weather and it has fuel. And because of the climate that we had over 2021, we increased the fuel and then we dried it. And then you added air. So the two major ingredients were cooked through and all it took was a spark. And that spark is virtually inevitable anywhere humans are interacting with the landscape because there are dozens of ways to have a spark on the landscape. And so it’s not really about the ignition. It’s all about the conditions that prepared us to put out this fire in December.

Niala: Natasha, I’m really glad you’re okay personally. And your house is fine. I know I’m sure, you know a lot of people that don’t. What happens as someone who is a fire ecologist and understands and studies it all, but then also experiences it personally, no matter where you live?

Natasha: It’s really difficult. There is a lot of talk about the movie “Don’t Look Up”.

And that feeling in “Don’t Look Up” where you’re yelling at the world like we’ve got a problem. We need to change the way we are using fire on the landscape. We need to change the way we are building. We need to change the way we interact. It is emotionally exhausting to say and not hear that message over and over. But on top of that, and on a more personal level, my family was actually evacuated 20 years ago in one of the first major fires of the 21st century. And to this day, I live in fear of my house burning down at any time. So it never leaves you, it is like any trauma, you live with it day to day. This is one of those things that members of this community will have to live with for a very long time, especially considering the fact that Better is actually considered a low to moderate fire risk zone. So it was extremely unpredictable and that blow to the system, you can’t shake it, you know, it’ll be with those guys forever.

NIALA: Natasha Stavros is a fire scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Be safe

Natasha: Thanks. have a good one.

There is a growing shortage of health workers in America. The CDC updated its COVID isolation guidelines a few weeks ago to allow workers to be brought back faster to hospitals with less staff.

We’re going to talk about this problem on the show, and we want to hear from you. If you are a healthcare worker: Have you quit or are considering leaving? Are you experiencing burnout? What will help you deal with stress?

Record a short voice memo of your thoughts and text them to me at (202) 918-4893. If you don’t want to share your name that’s fine, but we’d love to know where you are located.

In 15 seconds, I’m back with Jonathan Swann to talk politics this week.

NIALA: Welcome back to Nerdshala Today! I am Niala Boodhu.

It’s Friday, which means we’re ending the first week of the year in politics. And this week has been dominated by the anniversary of the January 6 uprising. Yesterday, President Biden blamed former President Trump for the attack.

President Joe Biden: For the first time in our history, a president not only lost an election, he tried to prevent a peaceful transfer of power as violent mobs ransacked the Capitol.

NIALA: Nerdshala’ Jonathan Swann reporting on how former President Trump and his allies have spent this week. And he is here to catch us now. Jonathan, I think we should start with what didn’t happen this week. Former President Trump originally scheduled a press conference at Mar-a-Lago yesterday. Why was it cancelled?

Jonathan Swann: Some of his close aides thought it was a really bad idea that would ultimately hurt him politically. Senator Lindsey Graham told me that she played golf with former President Trump over the weekend, and on the golf course, Trump asked her what she thought of a press conference on January 6. And Lindsey Graham told Trump that doing so would entail considerable risk. So, there were more people who weighed in, but Trump eventually changed his mind and put out a statement saying that he was canceling it.

NIALA: Meanwhile, the January 6th Select Committee has requested that Fox News Channel host, Sean Hannity, cooperate with their investigation. What is Hannity’s role in all this?

Jonathan: There have been some text messages issued by committee investigators that include Sean Hannity. And from these texts it seems that Hannity was one of those people who thought Trump was making a grave mistake. He’s a very close adviser, was in office to President Trump, someone whom Trump called late at night that he talked to very, very often. If they’re trying to get inside Trump’s mindset at the time and know what Trump was thinking, then Sean Hannity is a pretty good person to talk to because he was talking to Trump a lot in those days. So I think that’s where they’re getting there. I don’t think anyone thinks Sean Hannity himself is in any legal danger.

NIALA: Jonathan, now a year away from January 6th, I wonder what your thoughts are about where things stand with Republicans in Congress in Washington a year later?

Jonathan: Well, I remember on January 6th of last year, there was a time when it really looked like it was up to Trump when you talked to Republicans on the Hill. There was a time when both were seen together. I mean, gosh, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar told me she had a fist bump with Mike Pence after testifying to Joe Biden’s victory.

So the mood of January 6 is similar. However, it didn’t take long for Donald Trump to re-establish himself as the undisputed, most powerful leader of the Republican Party. And now it is almost assumed that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee in 2024. So it’s really shocking, where people’s heads were a year ago, where things are now.

NIALA: Nerdshala political reporter, Jonathan Swann. Thanks Jonathan.

Jonathan: Thanks.

Before leaving today, a note of thanks to you all when we asked what kind of emergency preparedness you do for your car in case you get stuck like drivers on icy I-95 in Virginia this week. Michael in Iowa shares his preparations for other drivers in cold weather: Place a zip-lock bag of sand, some 10-hour candles, and a lighter in a large tin box with a lid. He says: If you’re stuck, put sand in the bottom, stick in a candle, and light it. The small flame will heat both the can and the sand. It won’t feel like the tropics, but it will heat up the interior of your car enough to stop you from freezing to death. Thanks Michael.

OK, that’s all for this week. Nerdshala Today is brought to you by Nerdshala & Pushkin Industries.

We are produced by Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabina Singhani and Lydia McMullen-Layard. Our sound engineer is Alex Sugiura. Julia Redpath is our Executive Producer. Sara Kehoulani Gu is our Editor-in-Chief. And a special thanks to Mike Allen, co-founder of Nerdshala.

I’m Niyala Boodhoo – thanks for listening – and have a great weekend.


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