December 8, 2022
  • December 8, 2022

Forest fires, heat waves and floods: climate change news

By on August 3, 2021 0


Credit…Maranie Staab / Reuters

Most of the 50 small wildfires that were reportedly started by lightning strikes across southern Oregon over the weekend were extinguished, but firefighters didn’t have to look far to appreciate the precarious nature of every new fire.

Almost a month after the Bootleg fire was started by lightning, nearly 1,900 firefighters are still battling the blaze, which destroyed homes while burning more than 400,000 acres. Cloudy and rainy weather has helped them make considerable progress in recent days – the country’s largest wildfire was 84 percent contained on Monday evening – but the Bootleg Fire is should not be fully contained until October 1.

Fire officials are also wary of a forecast that could temper some of the recent gains. The Klamath Falls area could see temperatures in the mid-1990s on Tuesday and Wednesday, with wind gusts of up to 32 km / h Wednesday.

“We depend on weather conditions for our success,” said Al Nash, a spokesperson working with the fire department. He added: “There remains a vulnerability as we expect hot, dry and windy weather. “

The Oregon Department of Forests said it received reports of around 50 lightning-triggered fires during thunderstorms on Sunday. Of the 35 fires confirmed to be active, the agency said, 20 were quickly extinguished and those that remain do not threaten any homes.

On Tuesday morning, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Governor Kate Brown are scheduled to visit a farm in Salem – in northwest Oregon – which has been affected by the region’s long drought. This prolonged drought has also provided more fuel for forest fires triggered by lightning strikes or human behavior.

The $ 73 billion provided to modernize the country's electricity grid is the largest federal investment in electricity transmission in history.
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

The infrastructure package includes substantial investments to tackle climate change, but it falls far short of the transformational package President Biden had sought.

It contains only a fraction of the money it has asked for for major environmental initiatives such as building a network of electric vehicle charging stations and replacing the country’s lead pipes. And the legislation extends a lifeline to natural gas and nuclear power, provisions that have already angered progressives in the House.

The bill provides $ 73 billion to modernize the country’s electricity grid so that it can transport more renewable energy, the largest federal investment in electricity transmission in history. And that includes billions of dollars for a range of climate resilience measures.

The compromise includes $ 7.5 billion to develop electric vehicle charging stations across the country, half of the $ 15 billion requested by Mr. Biden to fulfill his campaign pledge to build 500,000. And one some of that money, by law, must be shared with efforts to build propane and natural gas infrastructure.

There’s still $ 7.5 billion for clean buses and ferries, but that’s not enough to electrify about 50,000 transit buses within five years, as Mr Biden has pledged to do it.

The bill would provide $ 15 billion to remove lead service lines across the country, compared to the $ 45 billion requested by Mr Biden and the $ 60 billion that water executives believe is needed to to do work.

The legislation also provides more than $ 300 million to develop technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and $ 6 billion to support ailing nuclear reactors; it also orders the Secretary of Energy to conduct a study into the job losses associated with Mr Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline.

Energy analysts said the measures in the package, particularly to modernize the electricity grid, would lay the groundwork to pivot the nation off fossil fuels. But the bill does not include any mechanism to immediately impose reductions in fossil fuel emissions, a policy that will be necessary to fulfill Mr Biden’s commitment in the Paris Agreement to reduce states’ greenhouse gases. United 50 to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

“There are a lot of things here that, however you cut them out, reflects a real fact on the ground that the United States is still 70% dependent on fossil fuels in its energy mix,” said said Kevin Book, managing director. of Clearview Energy Partners, a Washington-based research firm.

“This is not a transitional bill,” he said. “This is an incremental bill that includes transition elements. “

With temperatures well above 100 degrees, two firefighters - Sean Condon, left, and Lt. Gabe Mills - checked the welfare of a man in Spokane, Wash., In late June.
Credit…Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review, via Associated Press

With a death toll of 125, Washington state’s record heat wave has taken another milestone: it is the deadliest weather disaster in state history.

As extreme temperature spikes have continued in the West, the number of heat-related deaths in the region has increased. The brutal summer claimed hundreds of lives in Oregon, California and Washington. The latest heat wave in Washington, which started on June 26, claimed lives in at least 21 counties, according to the state’s health ministry – and experts believe that number will only increase as the heat wave persists.

“Emergencies due to these extreme weather conditions will continue to occur; it’s just a fact, ”said Umair A. Shah, Secretary of State for Health. “It’s up to us to take steps to address them before they become even more common.”

State has reached its dark milestone on July 19, when the Washington Department of Health recorded 112 heat-related deaths. The death toll broke the previous record set by a 1910 avalanche in Wellington, Washington, which killed 96 people.

The most casualties in the Washington heat wave occurred in King County, with 30 deaths, and Pierce County, with 23 more. The remaining deaths were scattered across more than a dozen other counties.

And officials expect those numbers to increase. The state health department calculates its death toll from reports from local health departments, health care providers, and forensic pathologists, which means the state’s official death toll is in. delay compared to what is reported locally.

Extreme heat is especially dangerous for people over 65, who are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease during a heat wave, and for black people, who die more frequently from the disease. according to at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Kristie Ebi, professor of global health at the University of Washington, recommends that states create heat action plans, which include an early warning and response system. And she suggests communities reconsider the materials used in construction and the size of windows and buildings.

“In the long term, climate change will continue,” Dr Ebi said. “We’re going to get hotter and have more intense heat waves. “