The Associated Press’ latest article on the wildfires raging in the West failed to mention the impact of climate change in the ongoing disaster.
Most unfortunately, the article, “Wildfires rage as US West grapples with heat wave, drought,” seems to grasp the pieces of what is going on with extreme weather events, but it fails to put them together for the total climate picture: “The blazes come as the West is in the midst of a second extreme heat wave within just a few weeks and as the entire region is suffering from one of the worst droughts in recent history.”
Another AP article, Sunday’s “California wildfire advances as heat wave blankets US West,” catalogued a number of record or near-record temperatures in the region but still failed to mention the connection to climate change.
One media outlet getting it right is the Los Angeles Times, which ran an article Monday with a headline bluntly explaining, “California hit by record-breaking fire destruction: ‘Climate change is real, it’s bad.’”
The article explained: “One thing everyone agrees on is that climate change is a factor that cannot be ignored.”
“The exceptional fire weather this year and in recent years does not represent random bad luck,” said Jacob Bendix, a Syracuse University professor who specializes in pyrogeography, or the study of wildfire distribution. “It is among the results of our adding carbon to the atmosphere — results that were predictable, and indeed that have been predicted for decades.”
[San Jose State meteorology professor Craig Clements] said climate change is also causing Earth’s jet streams to change their typical patterns, creating a discontinuity between Arctic and tropical air that is contributing to extreme weather events like the recent heat dome that simmered over the Pacific Northwest. One study found that that deadly heat wave would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change adding a few extra degrees.
“Climate change is real, it’s bad and it’s really affecting our fire weather and our fire danger,” Clements said. “Its fingerprints are all over this stuff.”