Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said global warming played a role in “exacerbating” natural disasters, including the fires raging across northern California.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks with hurricanes and earthquakes and now these terrible fires,” Clinton told an audience at the University of California, Davis while promoting her new book “What Happened.”
“So in addition to expressing our sympathy, we need to really come together to try to work to prevent and mitigate, and that starts with acknowledging climate change and the role that it plays in exacerbating such events,” Clinton said, according to First Coast News.
Wildfires are quite common in California due to the state’s dry summer weather and lush vegetation. All those plants get dried out in the summer and provide perfect kindling. High winds help fires spread quickly. Wildfire season lasts from May to October.
Scientists predict wildfires could become more frequent and intense as the world warms, though it’s unclear if global warming is currently playing a role in wildfires.
There has been an increase in wildfires in the western U.S. since the mid-1980s, but experts say that has more to do with land management rather than climatic conditions.
A draft copy of the latest national climate assessment found “low confidence” that global warming was influencing western wildfires.
“The western USA, [the data] indicate little change overall, and also that area burned at high severity has overall declined compared to pre-European settlement,” a 2016 study found.
Northern California wildfires have claimed at least 17 lives and consumed more than 122,000 acres. More than 20,000 residents have been evacuated. The largest fires laid waste to California’s iconic wine country in Napa and Sonoma counties.
Authorities are unsure what caused the fires, but California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott said “95% of the fires in our state are started by people.”
President Donald Trump approved California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s disaster declaration on Tuesday, freeing up more federal resources to aid in suppressing the fast-moving fires.
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