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Issues Of The Environment: Politics And Climate Change Science Clash As West Coast Wildfires Rage

Sep 23, 2020

Dr. Richard B. Rood, professor at the U-M College of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering
Credit University of Michigan College of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering / clasp.umich.edu

The wildfires along the United States West Coast continue to devastate homes and the surrounding environment.  Many environmental experts consider this more evidence of climate change, and yet some politicians constantly dispute those claims.  Dr. Richard Rood, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan, discusses his thoughts on this conflict, as well as the effects the fires have had on southeast Michigan, with WEMU's David Fair on this week's "Issues of the Environment."


Overview

  • Enormous wildfires are again raging through the western United States, particularly California and Oregon.  This year, the smoke is so great that it has altered weather in Southeast Michigan.  Haze covers the sun which appears red and high temperatures are down several degrees.
  • Climate scientists have long warned that climate change and long-standing fire suppression was setting the stage for massive wildfires, but the magnitude of the 2020 fires is unprecedented.
  • These wildfires are known as a “compound disaster,” in which more than one extreme event takes place at the same time across a varied geography.  Climate change makes compound disasters, including expensive wildfires, mega-droughts, intense hurricanes and drawn-out storm seasons, record flooding, etc...more likely to occur in a given decade.
  • Dr. Richard Rood, professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan, is an expert on intersections between climate and weather.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu