Brief #39—Environment

Policy Summary
Northern California is on fire. Throughout the summer, over 500,000 acres of Northern California has been up in flames, and has so far amounted in at least eight fatalities. One of the three massive fires has since been contained, but two are still burning, and the smoke generated is looming even as far as Oregon and Ohio. Many homes, schools and other structures are also reported to have been destroyed and it is unclear when the fires will die down. Though, it is certain that wildfires are becoming a pattern in California; the state which still has not fully recovered from the 2017 wildfires that ripped apart Santa Rosa and wine country. And while the current fires may be contained soon, it is also uncertain whether or not this can be of any consolation to California residents and Americans at large, as more wildfires are predicted to hit the state in the coming years.

Democratic governor Jerry Brown has begrudgingly called the growing intensity and frequency of California wildfires the state’s “new normal,” while president Trump has refused to acknowledge climate change as a factor in the wildfires, instead naming “bad environmental laws” the culprit. The President alleged that these laws “diverted” water to the Pacific ocean rather than to firefighters giving assistance. Firefighters have not reported any lack of water on the ground, rather “fire tornadoes.”

The scientific evidence put forth by various fire analysts and fire scientists argue that the warmer it gets, the more fires there are to be seen. Rising temperatures and prolonged heat waves are also a factor, scientists say. A signal of a shifting climate, they help set up the conditions that lead to more devastating fire seasons.

While California is currently experiencing some of the most devastating fires, with the one in Mendocino considered the fourth-worst in the state’s history, many other wildfires will strike other states in the United States and beyond should climate change worsen. And research suggests that as Republican community members begin to see more consequences in their own lives at the behest of climate change, their views on the issue will, too, follow. Whereas, Republican politicians do still appear beholden to fossil fuels, with the Trump administration just enforcing a clean energy rollback.

Hopefully right wing America will change their stance on climate change and what incites such wildfires to occur, because by NASA’s estimation, warmer temperatures are on the horizon, and it will scorch everyone.

Engagement Resources

  • United Way of the Bay Area – Helps fire victims by creating funds for long-term needs, such as rebuilding homes.
  • Direct Relief – Non-profit organization that dispatches medical aid of all kinds to disaster-stricken areas.

This Brief was developed by USRESIST NEWS Analyst Zoe Stricker. Contact:

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