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expert reaction to the Los Angeles wildfires

Nearly 200,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes in California as firefighters battle several raging wildfires.

 

Dr Jeffrey S. Kargel, Senior Associate Research Scientist at the University of Arizona, said:

“This week’s frightening invasion of Los Angeles by wildfires and the resulting evacuations of much of the urban area is just part of 2017’s record fire season in western North America. Along with the Atlantic region’s record number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes in 2017 and hurricane Harvey’s record-highest 5-day rainfall ever recorded in North America, 2017’s fire season is another face of climate change.

“Land management practices and sometimes arson or accidental ignition are commonly involved, but the spread of wildfires requires conditions produced by extreme rainfall patterns, wind, temperature conditions, or sometimes drought-enabled insect infestations. As with individual extreme hurricanes, bad spates of tornadoes, and severe droughts, we can’t blame the individual wildfire events or clusters of events specifically and uniquely on climate change.  However, scientists agree that climate change– caused mainly by our addiction to fossil fuels– is the primary cause of many global disturbances ranging from melting glaciers, rising sea level, increasing magnitudes and frequencies of the most extreme hurricanes, rainfall events and droughts.

“Ours is a planet in upheaval. The recorded history of increasing wildfire damage is connected to extreme weather and climate change. Government policies of some leading nations (recently most notably in the U.S.) are speeding climate change and aggravating extreme weather. The severe economic and environmental disturbances caused by climate change–including wildfires– and threats to human life will get much worse. Who pays for it? We all do in economic losses. Some people pay with their lives. And nature pays from sea to sea, and pole to pole.”

 

Declared interests

None received.

 

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