Friday, September 11, 2020

Half a million climate refugees in the USA

 More than 500,000 people in the US state of Oregon are fleeing deadly wildfires that are raging across the Pacific Northwest. The latest evacuation figures, which amount to more than 10% of the state's 4.2 million population. In California, seven bodies were discovered in Butte County, and there are fears the toll will rise as 16 people remain unaccounted for. There, some 64,000 people were under evacuation orders 

 Blazing infernos are sweeping the state. Governor Kate Brown said the exact number of fatalities is not yet known.  In California alone, at least 10 deaths have been confirmed. More than 100 wildfires are currently scorching 12 western US states. Oregon, California and Washington have borne the brunt of the wildfires, which have destroyed several entire towns.

4.4 million acres have been razed, almost the area of Wales.  The pollution caused in Portland on Thursday was ranked highest in the world, above Jakarta, Indonesia; Delhi, India; and Lahore, Pakistan.

 A Union of Concerned Scientists report shows how climate change is fueling more intense and an increasing number of wildfires across the western United States. 

"Since 2015, the United States has experienced, on average, roughly 100 more large wildfires every year than the year before," the UCS report continues. "This changes region by region, and year to year, but generally we're seeing more wildfires, more acres burned, and longer, more intense fire seasons."

Then there's the climate cost. "As the forests burn, they release carbon dioxide and other global warming gases, worsening climate change," according to UCS. "As wildfires burn more land, emissions go up."

"When we reduce global warming emissions, we slow the growth of climate risks, including wildfire," the report concludes. "Until then, summers will continue getting hotter, forests will get drier, and more and more people will face the threat of wildfire."

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