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Donald Trump stymies California climate efforts even as state burns

Scientists have found that climate change — including longer, hotter and drier fire seasons, diminishing snowpack and lengthening droughts — have already measurably worsened the size and scale of fires in the western United States.

New York Times|
Nov 03, 2019, 11.16 AM IST
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Donald Trump stymies California climate efforts even as state burns
California is the fifth largest economy in the world, and what happens here can reverberate and affect national and international efforts to halt global warming.
By Thomas Fuller and Coral Davenport

SANTA ROSA(CALIFORNIA): For the past three years, countries and companies around the world have looked to California as a counterweight to the Trump administration’s aggressive dismantling of efforts to combat climate change.

But this past week, as wildfires burned across the state — fires that scientists said have been made worse by a changing climate — the state’s status as the vanguard of environmental policy seemed at the very least diminished.

“We’re waging war against the most destructive fires in our state’s history, and Trump is conducting a full-on assault against the antidote,” Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said.

President Donald Trump has taken broad aim at efforts to fight global warming since his first days in office. He has mocked the established science of human-caused warming as a hoax, turned his pledge to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord into a campaign rallying cry, and directed the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back nearly every federal policy designed to curb the fossil-fuel pollution that is the chief cause of global warming.

Trump has homed in on California because of California’s unique role as a beacon of the nation’s climate change policies: Some signature federal climate change programs Trump seeks to dismantle originated in the state. And since Trump has vowed to pull the United States out of the international climate accord, California has actively sought to replicate and link its policies with other countries.

California is the fifth largest economy in the world, and what happens here can reverberate and affect national and international efforts to halt global warming.

The past 10 days have brought home to many Californians the brutal reality of a changing climate and cemented the feeling that politicians far away in Washington are not just ignoring it but actively working to undermine their efforts to address it.

The most destructive, the deadliest and the largest wildfires in California history have all occurred in the past two years.

Scientists have found that climate change — including longer, hotter and drier fire seasons, diminishing snowpack and lengthening droughts — have already measurably worsened the size and scale of fires in the western United States.

The 2018 National Climate Assessment concluded that if greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels continue to increase at current rates, the frequency of severe fires in the west could triple.

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