The wildfire that took the lives of 19 firefighters in Arizona Sunday, making it the deadliest in U.S. history for wildfires involving firefighters within the last 30 years, is being blamed by some on climate change.
Flames top a ridge as the Yarnell Hill Fire moves towards Peeples Valley, Arizona on Sunday, June 30, 2013. (Photo: AP/The Arizona Republic, Tom Story)
Earlier this month, the wildfires raging in Colorado were also blamed on conditions some some say were due to a warming climate. Phil Plait for Slate wrote, "these conditions are precisely what is expected from a warming planet; changing and more extreme weather patterns bringing droughts to some areas and torrential rain and flooding to others."
Some on Twitter have begun linking the extreme heat in Arizona to fueling the recent wildfires as well. Here's a look at a few such tweets:
Mother Jones also calls attention to the recent forest fires and deaths on its page discussing the influence of climate change on forest fires.
According to the Associated Press, lightning has been blamed for sparking the flame that spread to at least 2,000 acres while the state was in triple-digit temperatures. About 200 homes have been destroyed in the town of Yarnell, 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.
A wildfire burns homes in Yarnell, Ariz. on Sunday, June 30, 2013. An Arizona fire chief says the wildfire that killed 19 members of his crew near the town was moving fast and fueled by hot, dry conditions. The fire started with a lightning strike on Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures. (Photo: AP/The Arizona Republic, David Kadlubowski)
Last year after Colorado's wildfires that burned more than 18,000 acres, LiveScience reported, as many scientists have, that linking specific extreme events to climate change isn't possible.
"You can't say it's climate change just because it's an extreme condition," Colorado state climatologist Nolan Doesken told LiveScience, which also noted the similarities in weather conditions and fires in Colorado in both the springs of 2012 and 1910 as examples.
LiveScience did report that predictions of global warming would create a climate in some areas of the country that were drier and therefore more likely to have conditions ripe for forest fires.
Last week, President Barack Obama said "we need to act" against climate change in his announcement of regulations for power plants that would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
“Decades of carefully reviewed science tells us our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on the world we leave to our children,” Obama said in his weekly address. “Already, we know that the 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15, and that last year was the warmest in American history.”
“We will be judged – as a people, as a society, and as a country – on where we go from here," he continued later. "The plan I have put forward to reduce carbon pollution and protect our country from the effects of climate change is the path we need to take. And if we remember what’s at stake – the world we leave to our children – I’m convinced that this is a challenge that we will meet.”