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fire

Flames from the Carr Fire burn through trees and a road sign along a highway near Whiskeytown, California on July 27, 2018. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

'Climate Change...In Real Time': California's Frightening Fires Are the Nightmare Scientists Long Predicted

Wildfires ravaging the state have "spawned bizarre pyrotechnics, from firenados to towering pyrocumulus clouds that evoke a nuclear detonation."

Jessica Corbett

As deadly wildfires continue to rage in California—destroying hundreds of homes, threatening thousands more, and forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate—experts believe the blazes are part of "the new reality" that climate scientists have warned about for decades.

"This past month shows climate change for real and in real time," The Fresno Bee declared in an editorial published Monday.

The ferocious California fires, the Guardian reports, have "spawned bizarre pyrotechnics, from firenados to towering pyrocumulus clouds that evoke a nuclear detonation. These events are not aberrations, say experts. They are California's future."

"Scientists have been warning that the atmospheric buildup of man-made greenhouse gas would eventually be an existential threat. It is sobering to witness how swiftly that prediction has come true."
The Fresno Bee

"More acres are burning," Michael Wehner, a senior staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told the newspaper. "That is almost certainly due to climate change."

Anthony LeRoy Westerling, a professor at the University of California, Merced, added that "climate change is continuing to unfold," and "the impacts from it will probably accelerate."

California is far from alone in its current struggle to rein in a hot, fiery crisis; in recent weeks, experts have sounded alarms about heat waves and wildfires across the globe, linking the extreme weather to the warming climate.

"Scientists have been warning that the atmospheric buildup of man-made greenhouse gas would eventually be an existential threat," noted The Fresno Bee. "It is sobering to witness how swiftly that prediction has come true, from the lethal heat wave gripping Japan to the record temperatures in Europe to the flames exploding near the Arctic Circle."

As Common Dreams reported Friday, amid record-breaking temperatures worldwide, an analysis by international scientists found that the "unprecedented" heat wave which has swept across Europe and fueled dozens of fires in Sweden was made more than twice as likely by climate change.

"What was once regarded as unusually warm weather will become commonplace," concluded one European researcher, "and in some cases, it already has."

In California, as The Fresno Bee warned, "summer has been a death march and August's heat is just about to start."

The current wildfires are just the latest in a series of "explosive" blazes California has experienced in recent years. Just last December, the state saw a "once-in-a-generation" firestorm that ravaged an area about six times the size of Manhattan and forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate their homes.

And as anthropogenic global warming has generated a "new era of western wildfires" that are harder to control, experts have warned that traditional firefighting methods are inadequate.

"If this is the new normal for wildfires, then California must do better. But prevention is only part of the equation," The Fresno Bee continued. "California must plan now for these and other aspects of global warming, as more of the state becomes too hot, too dry, or too fire- or flood-prone to safely live in, and as more of the world braces for the era of climate refugees."

Many argue that in addition to improving wildfire management and emergency response tactics, preparing for the future means ramping up efforts to dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming.

In a letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown—a Democrat known for taking bold climate action but also, in some cases, not going far enough—five Nobel Peace Laureates acknowledged the "devastating" fires and called for the state "to become the first major fossil fuel producer to begin a managed and just transition off oil and gas production, in turn protecting the climate, citizens on the front lines of extraction, and setting a new direction for global climate action."

"As climate change creates its own weather," Oil Change International's Andy Rowell wrote Monday, "how many more people have to die, how many of our children do we have to bury, or how many brave firefighters put their lives in danger, before society acts decisively?"


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'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·


'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

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