Southwest US Wildfires Continue to Smolder

Image copyright: Reuters [via the Guardian]

The Facts

  • In the SW US, firefighters have struggled to contain a massive wildfire in New Mexico - the largest currently in the US - while a separate fire engulfed >20 homes in California's coastal community of Laguna Niguel.

  • As of Fri., the NM fire - located just south of the CO border - has burned >260k acres and is only 29% contained. Relentless winds combined with the megadrought conditions across the SW are increasing concerns that the fire will be almost impossible to contain. >4k homes are under mandatory evacuation orders.

The Spin

Narrative A

These climate change-catalyzed infernos are threatening lives, homes, and livelihoods. Extreme conditions caused by rising temperatures and reduced winter rainfall are making many parts of the US into a tinderbox. Under these circumstances, strong winds can be the catalyst in creating a major disaster.

Narrative B

It's easy to dismiss any extreme weather event as a consequence of climate change, but in reality they're usually influenced by a myriad of factors. More research is needed before we can establish any direct causal link between the two.

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