The Latest on the CA Wildfires
Major news outlets have recently dropped coverage of the California Wildfires. Here’s an update of the latest information.
Both the Woolsey and Camp Fires took 13 and 17 days for firefighters to contain respectively. These fires have left thousands of people displaced, and are perhaps some of the most destructive in California history. The Butte County Sheriff estimated that 196 individuals remained unaccounted for, and 88 people had been confirmed dead, as of November 28. Butte County is just north of Sacramento and is home to the town of Paradise, which was essentially decimated by the Camp Fire. But like in any tragic event, there are always those who put others above themselves, and try to save their friends and neighbors.
The Woolsey Fire, per the California state government, destroyed 1,500 structures and damaged nearly 350 others. The Fire ripped through parts of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, forcing thousands to evacuate amid potential disaster. Home to a plethora of celebrities, both counties may have to force their citizens to evacuate again, now that many have returned back. CBS Los Angeles reports that intense downpours of rain and potential mudslides may prompt both Ventura and Los Angeles Counties to evacuate residents.
Amidst the destruction of homes, businesses, and other structures, as well as the growing number of fatalities and unaccounted for persons, there is increasing speculation about how these fires could have been prevented. Some have pointed to a bill that outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed two years ago. In 2016, Brown vetoed Senate Bill 1463, which would have, according to Politifact California, “reduce[d] the risk of power lines sparking fires in brush-covered and wooded areas, saying in his veto letter that the letter duplicated existing efforts.”
During his tenure as Governor, however, Brown has signed multiple pieces of legislation aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires, including legislation to enhance wildfire recovery efforts. He has also continually sought the assistance of the federal government. Just several weeks ago, Governor Brown proclaimed that President Trump “has our [California’s] backs.” The Hill reports that President Trump has given California federal funding in response to the Camp, Woolsey, and other wildfires. Be that as it may, the President has not shied away from criticizing the state’s forest management. He even suggested cutting off federal funding prior to his California visit.
Just one day following Thanksgiving, 13 government agencies, as reported by The New York Times, released a report warning of significant consequences to the U.S. economy, infrastructure, and the environment as a result of climate change. The very report contradicts the President’s policy and political stance on climate change. The report estimates that the cost of climate change afflicted on the U.S. will be in the billions: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise and $32 billion from infrastructure damage by the end of the century, among others,” as summarized by the NYT.
The Fourth National Climate Assessment report summarizes risks to the U.S. economy, infrastructure, health, lives of indigenous people, as well as effects to international and domestic trade. The report also has an entire chapter on the effects to the Southwest region of the U.S., where the destruction and quantity of wildfires in recent years is on the rise. For example, the authors warn that there will be “more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities.” Additionally, the report notes that “rising temperatures are projected to reduce the efficiency of power generation while increasing energy demands, resulting in higher electricity costs.”