California is now facing the most devastating effects of climate change in its history. Within two weeks in August, the state experienced a record heat wave with 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley, which may be the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. There were 11,000 lightning strikes over 72 hours, setting more than 300 wildfires including two of the three largest in California history; burning a million acres; requiring tens of thousands to evacuate; generating a rare “fire tornado’; and creating the worst air quality in the world.
Climate scientists expect such effects to occur even more frequently as global warming rises temperatures and reduces precipitation. As California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said, “Climate change is real. If you are in denial about climate change, come to California.”
The fires are leading to a broad reconsideration of the greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions that are principally responsible for climate change. Governor Newsom said,
While it’s nice to have goals to get to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, that’s inadequate to meet the challenges that this state, and I argue this nation, faces. We’re going to have to fast-track our efforts. We’re going to have to be more aggressive in term of meeting our goals much sooner.
Governor Newsom was responding to pressure from Californians for immediate action on climate. See this powerful video message from youth climate justice organizer Tiana Renee Arredondo–narrated from a Fresno evacuation center–which says that during the first half of his term Governor Newsom has allowed approximately 7,000 new oil and gas projects. It calls for a halt to all fossil fuel projects and an equitable transition for workers and communities.