How does one describe the devastation from the wildfires in California: massive? unprecedented? apocalyptic? Perhaps the best way to begin to fathom what happened is to view the photos and videos and not even try to describe them. (See “These drone footage videos reveal melted cars, charred homes in Northern California,” Oct. 16.)
Why have these wildfires been so devastating? There are certainly many contributing factors, but a five-year drought, recent record heat and unusually dry weather count prominently among the them. These are changes that climate scientists have predicted with a warmer climate.
We now live in an epoch of more severe weather-related disasters, and we definitely need to plan and adapt. But more importantly, we must rapidly reduce the rampant upward march of greenhouse gases. A national carbon fee and dividend program can drive the progress already underway by individuals, cities, counties, states and businesses.
While those images of destruction will haunt us for a long time, we can heed the author Shannon A. Thompson, who sagely noted, “I can’t take back the past, but I can fight for the future.”