How Climate Change Turns Up the Flames of Fire Season

Image result for wildfire

Image: Kent Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The wildfires raging in Northern California, which have so far torched more than 270 square miles, killed 40 people, forced thousands to flee, destroyed about 5,700 structures and spread smoke to communities for hundreds of miles around, are a burning sign of things to come.

Here in Oakland, Calif., where I’m currently working, about 50 miles south of most of the fires, I do my errands and even sit around the not-exactly-airtight apartment wearing an N95-rated respirator mask. Stores can’t keep them on the shelves. Oakland is said to have the country’s worst air this week — second only to the city of Napa and on par with a bad day in Beijing, China (as I write this,  Oaktown’s air quality index, or AQI, is 172, rated “unhealthy” by the EPA; another source, more frequently updated, is www.purpleair.com). The whole San Francisco Bay Area smells like a campfire, and not in a good way.

Many experts agree that climate change has been worsening wildfires in the western U.S. and elsewhere for years by making winters shorter and wetter and the following fire season longer and drier. Climate change also kicks up higher winds and sparks more frequent lightning. And the fires’ carbon emissions exacerbate climate change, which causes more fires, which increases climate change, and so on. It’s a deadly feedback loop. California’s historic drought capped by a soaking-wet last winter and then a hot, dry summer makes these fires a terrible case in point.

For a list of ways to help those in need, click here.

Read more:

Here’s What We Know About Wildfires and Climate Change — Scientific American (reprinted from ClimateWire)

How Climate Change Is ‘Turning Up the Dail’ on California Wildfires — CBS News

Did Climate Change Fuel California’s Devastating Fires? Probably. — MIT Technology Review

The Climate Change Fire Alarm From Northern California — Los Angeles Times

Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks? — Union of Concerned Scientists

Briefing: Deadly Sonoma Fire Now Partially Contained; Oakland’s Air Quality Is 2nd Worst in Nation After Napa — East Bay Express

Climate Change Indicators: Wildfires — EPA (Hey, is that a reference to climate change on a federal government website? It’s like seeing a unicorn.)

Related posts:

California Drought: Overcoming History to Reduce SoCal Water Waste

Past, Present and Future: California’s Epic Struggle With Water

Civilization Lost: California’s 500-Year Drought Potential

A Grim Climate Change Forecast for the U.S.

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Filed under Climate Change, Drought, Natural Disasters, North America

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