Are the massive wildfires ravaging parts of Southern California a result of dry weather and high winds or climate change? If you ask the Golden State’s governor, Jerry Brown (D), he’d argue the latter.
What did he say?
When the governor visited Ventura County this weekend to tour the burned areas of the county, Brown said the wildfires are part of a “new normal” that residents should expect in years to come thanks to man-man climate change.
"This is the new normal,” Brown said, according to the Orange County Register, adding:
We’re facing a new reality where fires threaten peoples’ lives, their properties, their neighborhoods and cost billions and billions of dollars. We have to have the resources to combat the fires, and also have to invest in managing our vegetation and forests and all the ways we dwell in this very wonderful place — but a place that’s getting hotter.
There have [historically] been very long droughts in California and we are getting some of those returning very bad, and we’re going to get them returning more often. And then, with climate change, some scientists are saying California is literally burning up.
Brown has declared a state of emergency and deployed National Guard troops to assist local assets on the ground. More than 8,500 firefighters are battling the fires, which have burned nearly 200,000 acres and destroyed nearly 800 structures.
What does science say?
While Brown is high on climate change, scientists don’t believe the wildfires are a result of man-made climate change.
In fact, the U.S. government’s latest National Climate Assessment found a “low to medium confidence for a detectable human climate change contribution” to wildfires in the western U.S.
The report defined low confidence as based on "inconclusive evidence” while it defined medium confidence as based on “suggestive evidence."