With fires and record heat over Labor Day weekend, how should California address the new normal?

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More than 100 firefighters battle the intensely hot weather to extinguish the fire in the Sepulveda Basin in California, United States on September 7, 2020. With the help of Los Angeles County manual crews, LAFD CERT volunteers and an overhead crane, firefighters declared 100% containment after more than three hours of work by land and air, protecting the Japanese gardens and the water reclamation plant. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Photo credit: Brandon Taylor/Latin America News Agency

The California National Guard rescued hundreds of people near the Sierra National Forest this weekend, as the Creek Fire burned more than 78,000 acres and devastated the town of Big Creek.

Meanwhile, near Yucaipa, more than 7,000 acres burned after a fire sparked from a pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party.

In the Angeles National Forest, the Bobcat Fire threatens communities along the 210 freeway near the San Gabriel Mountains.

Cal Fire says in total, more than two dozen major wildfires are burning across the state as of this morning. That’s after a weekend of record-breaking heat statewide and especially in Southern California.

Woodland Hills actually hit 121 degrees on Sunday, the hottest temperature ever recorded in LA County. That same day, the county closed trails in the Santa Monica Mountains after a woman died while hiking on Saturday.

Heading into the weekend, widespread power outages were also a big concern, but fortunately the region seemed to be spared a worst-case scenario.

Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a statewide emergency because of the fires and extreme weather conditions. President Trump followed suit with a major disaster declaration.

Cal Fire says more California land has burned this year than ever before — 2.2 million acres. And it’s not even the high fire season of October or November.

“We’re living in a world altered by climate change. California’s had heat waves, it’s had droughts, wildfires for millennia. But we also know that global warming is increasing the odds of unprecedented extremes, including record-setting heat and extreme wildfire weather,” says Noah Diffenbaugh, professor of Earth Science Systems at Stanford.

He adds, “The good news is we’ve got a lot of systems that have been built around dealing with climate extremes. The bad news is they were designed and built for an old climate. We’re in a new climate, and that climate is going to continue to intensify.”

Mark Hertsgaard, environment correspondent for the Nation and Executive Director of Covering Climate Now, says California accounts for only 1% of global emissions. “The problem is not caused by Sacramento. The problem is caused in Washington, in Beijing, and other major capitals around the world where policy continues to subsidize fossil fuels, which is like throwing gasoline on these fires; policy continues to favor the carbon-intensive status quo of the economy we have today instead of moving toward the green economy of tomorrow.”

Credits

Guests:
Mark Hertsgaard - Nation magazine - @markhertsgaard, Noah Diffenbaugh - Professor with Stanford University's Department of Earth System Science and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. - @StanfordEarth

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin, Nihar Patel