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California is burning again. These latest wildfires are already the deadliest yet. And they continue to blaze.
Wildfires make headlines every few months. They’ve been called “the new normal.” But California Governor Jerry Brown isn’t having that. He says it’s “the new abnormal.”
To be clear, humans are part of this. The effects of climate change make conditions for wildfires worse.
US wildfire seasons—especially those in years with higher wildfire potential—are projected to lengthen, with the Southwest’s season of fire potential lengthening from seven months to all year long. Additionally, the likelihood that individual wildfires become severe is expected to increase.
Researchers project that moist, forested areas are the most likely to face greater threats from wildfires as conditions in those areas become drier and hotter.
Surprisingly, some dry grasslands may be less at risk of catching fire because the intense aridity is likely to prevent these grasses from growing at all, leaving these areas so barren that they are likely to lack the fodder for wildfires to start and spread.
This is the reality we live with.
Will we recognize it? And how do we go forward knowing it?
- Jody Jones Mayor of Paradise, California
- Matt Tinoco Reporter, KPCC
- Noah Diffenbaugh Climate scientist, Kara J Foundation Professor, Department of Earth System Science, Kimmelman Family Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
- Evan Halper National reporter for the Los Angeles Times; former LA Times Sacramento bureau chief; @evanhalper
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