Climate Crisis: California Burning Again

*250,000 Californians from the north and the south are currently evacuated from their communities. At least 48 people are dead with more than 7,000 structures in ruins. It’s five weeks before Christmas and once again firestorms are raging across the Golden State.

Six years of unrelenting drought in tandem with elevated (ocean and air) temperatures are most certainly a deadly combination.

Climate Crisis - California Tree Graveyards
Massive California tree graveyards are spread across 9 million acres. Image credit:

Since 2010, more than 130 million mature trees have perished across the state. Water-starved coniferous trees communicate their plight to bark beetles. The insects deliver the coup de grâce.

In fact, across western North America this is a pattern that’s all too familiar: 30 billion mature dead trees. Instead of removing CO2 and giving off oxygen, gigantic tree graveyards are decomposing and contributing to the overburdened and overheated atmosphere.

No trees. No life.

Climate Crisis - Carr Fire
The Carr Fire incurred $1.7 billion in damages. Eight people died and thousands of animals were incinerated. Image credit: BBC

Those dead trees are also kindling for firestorms like the plume-driven Carr Fire in northern California earlier this summer. These are a new terrifying breed of climate-driven firestorms. 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit with 165 mile per hour winds spawning firenados and plumes evident 7.5 miles into the troposphere.

Also this past summer, the Mendocino Complex Fire (459,123 acres) eclipsed the 2017 Thomas Fire (281,893 acres) as the largest fire in Californian history.

It’s axiomatic: the warmer it becomes the larger and more intense the California (and elsewhere) firestorms. Both wind and plume-driven conflagrations are increasing.

Climate Crisis - Camp Fire Structures Burn
At least 6,700 structures burned in the Camp Fire, Paradise, California. Image credit: Reuters/Stephen

The irrefutable driving force is fossil fuel heat. Recently, my Princeton University colleagues and others revealed that since 1991 an additional 325 zettajoules have been added to the oceans. Since the Industrial Revolution, Man has infused 397 zettajoules of fossil fuel heat into the oceans. That’s the equivalent of detonating five Hiroshima-style bombs a minute for 75 consecutive years.

Since the oceans drive the climate, Earth has entered into climate instability. That is, higher highs and lower lows with much extreme weather piling up in between. In September, for example, Hurricane Walaka submerged Hawaii’s East Island, wiping out vital habitat for the endangered green turtles and critically endangered monk seals. The Antarctic glaciers are even groaning as they, too, rapidly disappear.

The Antarctic glaciers are even groaning as they, too, rapidly disappear.”

Presently, America is amidst the largest fracking (water poisoning) frenzy in history. Far from being alone, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are also furiously extracting and burning more climate destroying fossil fuels.

Climate Crisis - Sea Turtle in Reef
The global marine heatwave of 2015-2017 broiled more than 50 percent of Earth’s largest network of coral reefs, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Image credit: Carbon Brief

Meanwhile, vast areas under the sea (corals and kelp forests) and on land (ancient forests) are dead. Cooked to death.

Ladies and gentlemen, we only have one home where we all must breathe air, drink water and eat food. How much more death and destruction must we endure before the world leaders enact a zero-combustion global economy?

Climate Crisis - Dead Mangroves in Australia
A fierce El Nino in 2016 killed 22,000 acres of mangroves along a 600-mile strip of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Unprecedented. Image credit: Norman Duke

It’s a no-brainer to tackle this planetary catastrophe head-on:

  • End the annual $5.3 trillion fossil fuel       subsidies.
  • Reduce fossil fuel emissions now.
  • End all seismic surveying in the oceans for fossil fuels.
  • Protect all the remaining ancient forests and wetlands because they are the most perfect CO2 warehouses to have ever evolved on Earth.
  • Roll out solar concentrated plants with supercritical steam and lithium ion battery storage facilities on all continents, which will easily power all towns and cities.

It’s time to globally mobilize and address this Man-made climate crisis with innovative technology that already exists.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.






Dr. Reese Halter

Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.

Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is
Love! Nature

Tweet @RelentlessReese






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