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America in Peril

This is just a tiny taste of our coming future if climate change is not halted

"Huge blazes in California have destroyed over 1,500 homes and killed at least eight people." (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

"Huge blazes in California have destroyed over 1,500 homes and killed at least eight people." (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The American West is once again on fire.

Huge blazes in California have destroyed over 1,500 homes and killed at least eight people, with others raging in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. Overall, fires burn twice as many acres today as 30 years ago.

Wildfires are also raging across Europe, with fires 43 percent above average. At least 70 people in Greece have been killed and hundreds more were temporarily driven into the sea, while Sweden has asked for help with its own infernos.

This is just a tiny taste of our coming future if climate change is not halted. Murderous heat waves, drought, vast wildfires, super-powerful storms, floods, and sea level rise will lay waste to great swathes of the American landscape and built infrastructure. It is unquestionably the greatest threat to the nation.

As usual, one cannot say that these particular fires are unquestionably the fault of increased global temperatures, because that's not how climate change works. Instead, warming increases the background likelihood of extreme weather events. Global climate models predict that a warmer future will make those extreme events — just exactly the kind of thing we are seeing today — more frequent. Statistical collections are ratifying those predictions, proving beyond question that rising sea levels and heat waves are on the increase, while rarer events like extreme hurricanes are still being tabulated (but initial science is coming in as expected).

Read the full article here.

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Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at TheWeek.com. His work has appeared in the Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and the Washington Post.

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