Actually, yes, I can.
One of my fellow residents asked me about this at lunch the other day, when we both decided to skip noon conference. A series of wildfires in California have destroyed 1500 homes and displaced close to a million people.
“Can you believe the fires in California?” he asks. Can I believe them? Absolutely.
This is a tragedy. People have died. People have lost their homes. People are living in shelters. Utilities are interrupted, roads are closed, and the air is unsafe.
But am I surprised? Hardly. What, exactly, did people think was going to happen as the climate warmed? Global warming is not some theoretical problem confined to the scientific journals. It’s not the extreme scenario if we continue to pollute. It’s here, it’s happening now, and it’s going to get a whole lot worse.
Was global warming the cause of the California fires? No, of course not. A lot of factors contribute to these, and wildfires are naturally occurring events. But climate change will be making the weather in California hotter and drier, increasing the chance of—and severity of—wildfires. (See LiveScience, for example.) While our president debates the economic costs of cutting carbon emissions, people will continue to lose property and life in natural disasters.
We’ve made our bed; now we’ll have to lie in it. Welcome to the 21st century.