Conservation Group: We Haven't Seen Worst Yet on Wildfires
Thursday, September 17, 2020
BOISE, Idaho -- From destroyed properties and wilderness to smoky air, the Northwest is reeling from more wildfires this season.
The Center for Western Priorities, a conservation group in the Rocky Mountain region, said there's no doubt climate change plays a role, and that political barriers are making things worse.
The direct impact from these fires is being seen in multiple states, but smoke is also spreading through the air and across the country.
Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director at the Center, fears without meaningful action, the situation will only get worse.
"This year is just a harbinger for what's to come," Prentice-Dunn said. "It's not gonna get better unless we take significant efforts to mitigate climate change."
Scientists believe the size of fires keeps growing because of rising heat and more drought-like patterns consistent with climate change.
When he visited the West Coast this week, President Donald Trump downplayed the impact of climate change.
And while his opponent, Joe Biden, is actively pushing a proposal to address the issue, some activists worry it doesn't go far enough.
Prentice-Dunn said whether it's a new administration taking over, or ratcheting up more pressure on policymakers, he said many actions taken by the White House need to be immediately reversed to stop the bleeding.
"These wildfires are just being turbo-charged by climate change," Prentice-Dunn said. "And the Trump administration is just adding fuel to that fire by rolling back policies aimed at mitigating climate change, expanding drilling and burning of fossil fuels."
Trump's resistance to acknowledge the issue comes as some Republicans are expressing more of an open mind on climate change, given that younger members of the party are giving it focus.
Meanwhile, some on the left wish Biden would be more aggressive on climate change and embrace more elements of a proposed Green New Deal.
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