This week thousands of residents of Northern California have had to flee their homes in the face of the deadliest fire season in California history. With a reported 40 dead, dozens still missing and thousands of structures burned, the fires are still not anywhere near containment. On the heels of Hurricane Maria and Harvey and the devastation they wreaked, it becomes harder and harder to deny the obvious–climate change is real.
Increased temperatures mean that forested areas are hotter and drier which leads to more frequent and extreme fires. In addition, lightning happens more frequently in warm weather; lightning is a chief cause of forest fires. Tinderbox conditions and lightning are a deadly combination as we’ve seen in both California and Montana this year.
Climate change is also responsible for the intensity of both Maria and Harvey. As the Earth warms due to climate change so do the oceans. Hurricanes are affected by warm water and become bigger and more dangerous when they encounter it. Moreover, the rising ocean levels due to melting of the polar ice caps make the storm surges that accompany hurricanes even more deadly. Climate change is making our world more dangerous to live in.
In Puerto Rico the situation after Hurricane Maria is dire. At least 48 people have died, while over a hundred are still missing. Puerto Ricans still don’t have regular access to power, clean drinking water, or food. People in hospitals continue to die from a lack of power and medical treatment. Only 8% of roads are passable. This week the house passed a $36.5 billion aid package to help Puerto Rico, while Trump tweeted that three weeks is too long for Puerto Rico to need our help and managed to forget he is actually the President there too. Let’s all remember that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S.–its citizens are U.S. citizens. 69 GOP congresspersons voted against sending help. Let that sink in.
The political and social climate have also changed in America. No longer interested in helping their fellow Americans, the GOP’s new motto is “every (rich) man for himself” as they eat away at Obamacare, continue their assaults on women both literally and through the removal of birth control and reproductive services, and further their racist/homophobic agenda. This week Trump proudly released yet another executive order cutting subsidies the government pays to insurance companies to reduce deductibles and co-pays endangering health care for millions, specifically middle class Americans.
In a week where Harvey Weinstein was kicked out of the Film Academy for sexual misconduct, we still have a man in the White House who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault. And that man continues to lead the health care assault on women by removing access to birth control.
Trump continues his racist agenda with ICE raids that make undocumented immigrants afraid to seek shelter from hurricanes and wildfires. And to top off a particularly awful week, Trump spoke at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Values Voter Summit which is just a fancy name for conservative voters who think homosexuality is a sin and a woman’s place is in the home; the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the FRC as a hate group. Trump has raged against the poor, the sick, Puerto Ricans, women, minorities, LGBTs and even members of his own party; what groups are left?
- Donate to the Red Cross who continues to help those ravaged by hurricanes and fires.
- Get out and register voters, especially those underrepresented in American Politics. Here’s some helpful information to get you started.
- Continue to contact your members of Congress and tell them you support universal healthcare and access to contraception, oppose racist and homophobic policies, and want Trump impeached now!
The Atlantic, Has Climate Change Intensified 2017’s Western Wildfires?
New York Times, A Look Back at California’s Deadliest Wildfires
Scientific American, Here’s What We Know about Wildfires and Climate Change
Union of Concerned Scientists, Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks?
Ty Starks Morgan is an attorney who has worked in the foster care system for 23 years. She is the mother of two teen sons, two dogs, three cats, and a plethora of rescued foster animals.
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