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California Firestorms: What will it take for action?

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California firestorms: An increasingly devastating new climate change reality

The science linking our warmer climate and more frequent and intense wildfires is clear.

wildfires CC
Graphic: Climate Central

For nearly 6 years on MPR's Climate Cast, I've written and broadcast many times about the links between more frequent and more intense wildfires, and climate change.

But this week's ongoing firestorms in California are gut-wrenching.

Over 200,000 are evacuated from their homes tonight. That's the equivalent populations of Rochester and Duluth in Minnesota. The climate change links are clear. Many in the climate change community are asking critical questions now.

  • How many cities will have to burn or be wiped off the map by climate change-enhanced hurricanes before major climate policy and operational changes are enacted?

  • What will be the eventual mechanism for change? Loss of life? Financial/insurance consequences?

  • When will the rest of America realize and accept that climate change as the existential threat it is right now?

  • How will those who are most responsible for and/or denied harmful climate change impacts be brought to account?

The story and impacts of climate change are not going away. The evidence is clear climate change is already taking money from our bank accounts. And impacts are only getting closer to all of our front doors. In California again today, climate change-enhanced wildfires are burning those front doors to the ground and taking more lives.

How many more post-apocalyptic climate change scenes will it take for us to rapidly shift our thinking?

That's a question that will demand answers. One thing is now certain. The next climate change-enhanced disaster is coming.