Column: California wildfires to Florida hurricanes, how the rich game climate change, and the climate crisis in the South China Sea.
California wildfires to Florida hurricanes, how the rich game climate change, and the climate crisis in the South China Sea.
As a journalist I have covered hurricanes for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and CNN. I have written on floods in Europe and the Pacific Northwest for Grist, The Washington Post and the Smithsonian Magazine. I have covered droughts in India and Afghanistan for the Monitor. I have reported on food riots in Venezuela and on refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
I once worked on an oil pipeline, but now I worry about the environment.
In the aftermath of the California fires, which began on the heels of a four-year drought, journalists are scrambling to determine how the human and ecological devastation will be blamed and how that damage will be distributed in a state still reeling from the devastation wrought by the Camp Fire, which killed at least 86 people and destroyed an area larger than Manhattan.
The state is now suffering from the effects of the Santa Ana winds, which can blow up to 200 mph, and is in the midst of an ongoing drought brought on by the wet season from late August through the first weeks of October. The fire season in California has already produced more than 100,000 acres of inferno-like blazes across the state. As the wildfires continue, environmental advocates are calling for a complete overhaul of the state’s wildfire prevention and early warning systems. These calls have echoed the calls for “Climate Change” in the area.
The fires have already caused a number of problems for the state’s economy with over $10 billion in cost to forest clearances, and also costing jobs and tax revenue. The fires have also forced the retirement of 6,000 firefighters out of a total force of 10,000. With the fires, the State of California is expected to spend more than $1 billion to restore the land, but also to invest in infrastructure, and also to increase its reserves.
At the same time, a new study led by Yale University, which looked at all the fires that have occurred since 2000 and how fire seasons have changed, found that climate change has been responsible for between 36,500 and 48,200 additional fires every year since 1980 and that the area burned is increasing every year.