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We're facing a wildfire emergency across this country, and we need to mobilize to confront the challenge.
Every year, millions of acres across the United States are burned to a crisp, billions of dollars of damage done, and thousands of properties destroyed. As a resident of California, I've seen first-hand how wildfires are growing more common and more dangerous.
As climate change continues to take its toll, we're seeing the scale and intensity of wildfires around the U.S. increase significantly. In fact, five of the worst years for wildfires in the United States all happened in the last 20 years... and three of them in the last seven years.
As wildfires have worsened across the country, federal spending to combat them has steadily increased. Federal wildfire suppression costs have soared from an annual average of $425 million between 1985 and 1999 to over $1.6 billion between 2000 and 2019.
One of the biggest areas of spending is in developing new technologies to help firefighters detect a wildfire early, predict where it might burn next, and contain it before it gets out of control.
Because it's a new area of innovation, established tech giants aren't as well equipped to handle the challenges of this new market need.
That's where nimble startups come in, and there are already promising developments in this field that could create incredible opportunities for investors as the new tech gets adopted.
Let me show you what I mean...
The Enormous Cost of Wildfire Damage
Besides the obvious damage to land and wildlife, wildfires also inflict enormous costs on our economy every year.
While it's difficult to estimate the exact numbers, the weather company Accuweather reckons that California's wildfires in 2018 caused a shocking $400 billion worth of damage in just that state alone.
A huge chunk of these costs comes from property destruction. Nationally over 40,000 structures have been burned by wildfires between 2018 and 2021. Unfortunately, there are millions of properties across the country in high-risk fire zones.
As wildfires have worsened across the country, federal spending to combat wildfires has steadily increased. Federal wildfire suppression costs have soared from an annual average of $425 million between 1985 and 1999 to over $1.6 billion between 2000 and 2019.
However, despite increased funding, we're struggling to cope with wildfires. And the biggest wildfires - which cause the most damage - typically burn out of control.
With a bleak outlook, government agencies and startups are turning to unconventional ideas to find solutions.
Satellite imagery and high-tech cameras represent an early stage in that process, helping with detection and prediction.
But the real game-changers for modernizing our fire suppression capabilities are drones.
Fighting Fires One Robot at a Time
As an entrepreneur that has built several companies in the robotics and autonomous vehicles space, the mental image of a fleet of drones fighting wildfires across the country gets me super excited.
The most intense wildfires create several significant challenges for firefighters.
Firstly, these blazes typically grow and expand extremely rapidly, especially during high winds. As the surface area of a fire grows exponentially it can quickly outstrip the local firefighting resources available to combat the blaze.
Secondly, firefighting planes are a key part of fire suppression and are used to survey wildfires and to drop fire retardant on dangerous blazes from above. However, these pilots can't fly in the dark or in overly smoky conditions.
Lastly, fighting wildfires is particularly dangerous and every year firefighters lose their lives in the field.
Drone technology is able to circumvent these challenges.
Drones are relatively cheap and highly mobile so they can supplement existing firefighting capabilities. They enable firefighters to combat far larger wildfires successfully, can fly and fight fires at night safely, and can be equipped with cameras that can see through smoke.
And while losing a drone to a wildfire is not ideal, it sure is better than losing a person.
All these reasons and more are why I'm super excited about what the team is building at a startup I've featured in my New Wave Syndicate service.
It's designing and developing drones that can help combat wildfires as well other challenging activities, like industrial logistics and providing healthcare to remote areas.
Right now, they're raising funds. Simply put, I think every angel investor needs to see this now.