A single, devastating California fire season wiped out years of efforts to cut emissions of global warming gases.
The fire season last year was unusually intense, prompting one expert to calculate the state had the world’s most powerful air quality system in its crosshairs.
But, by the end of the year, the state had failed to make any substantive progress in reducing emissions from global warming sources. In fact, it has seen air quality improve at the expense of the planet.
Even so, new data show California was far from the first to fail to prevent or fight the worst effects of wildfires. Across the country, states have also failed — sometimes with devastating results.
When it comes to combating the worst effects of wildfires, the country should ask itself if we have the wherewithal to tackle climate change, or if we have simply allowed its worst effects to become far worse than we knew.
The climate is heating up — not only along the Pacific Northwest coast, but all through the region. The record-breaking fires this year are a result of decades of climate change, and they come amid record-breaking heat, drought, and wildfires across the West.
The United States is now experiencing its worst wildfire season in four decades. In many parts of the state, the fire season is already over and the state is facing the added threat of climate change with its record-breaking heat, prolonged droughts, and increasingly intense fires.
California’s forest service, the state’s main wildfire prevention agency, says climate change is having a “profound and persistent impact” on fire behavior.
“The wildfire season this year is far different from what we’ve seen in the past decade or so,” said Jennifer Mills, a spokeswoman with the state forest service. “What we’re experiencing now is different and has different fire behavior than what we’ve experienced in the past.”
State and federal agencies are struggling to address climate change, especially with fire season looming.
In Northern California, state health officials said that while record-breaking wildfires appear to be increasing in frequency, this summer’s fire season is still on track to be the most expensive since record-