California Governor Jerry Brown said the wildfires ravaging the greater Los Angeles area are part of a “new normal” residents can expect due to man-made global warming.
“This is kind of the new normal,” said Brown, a Democrat, on Saturday while touring Ventura County neighborhoods wrecked by the Thomas Fire, that is already one of the largest in state history.
“With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up,” Brown said, according to CNN. “So we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we also have to invest in managing the vegetation and forests … in a place that’s getting hotter.”
Brown’s statements, though ominous, aren’t in line with the scientific consensus. The latest National Climate Assessment report put a “low” to “medium” confidence on claims global warming was making wildfires worse across the western U.S.
Wildfires could increase in severity in the coming decades, but parsing out the driving factors behind fire trends is complicated, since so much of it depends on land management policies and year-to-year variations in temperature and rainfall.
Despite this, environmental activists and news outlets have eagerly linked the wildfires to man-made warming. For example, Rolling Stone published a lengthy piece titled “California’s Climate Emergency,” referring to the fires.
Several fires are ripping across the southland, engulfing thousands of acres and forcing residents to flee. So far, one death has been blamed on the Thomas Fire in Ventura County and hundreds of structures have been damaged or destroyed.
The Thomas fire had only been 15 percent contained, burning 155,000 acres, state officials reported as of Saturday. Officials ordered evacuations for parts of Santa Barbara County on Sunday morning.
On the other hand, the Rye fire west of Valencia is about 90 percent contained, according to CAL FIRE, and the Creek fire north of the city of Los Angeles is 90 percent contained. Both fires combined now cover more than 21,000 acres.
The Lilac fire near San Diego is 60 percent contained, CAL FIRE reported on Sunday. The fire is now 4,100 acres, and crews are working to keep it from spreading.
Despite the progress, fire conditions are expected to continue. The warm, dry Santa Ana winds will continue to blow on Sunday. Gusts could reach 55 miles per hour, allowing fires to spread quickly among the dried out vegetation.
The National Weather Service reported two new record temperatures set at the Long Beach airport and the Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday, with temperatures at or above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
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