What Impact Will Climate Change Have On The Housing Market?
Phil Hall September 23, 2021
The physical destruction created by climate change will create significant and potentially severe changes in the actions of lenders, mortgage investors, federal programs and policies, appraisers, insurance companies, builders and homebuyers, according to the new report “The Impact of Climate Change on Housing and Housing Finance” published by the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America.
Identifying The Risks: The report follows the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures in dividing climate-related risks into physical risks (adverse weather events and natural disasters) and transition risks (policy and legal, technology, market and reputation risks). The report stressed that forecasting the severity of the risks is difficult because there is no course of action for addressing the problem.
“Projecting future climate change and its impacts remains challenging primarily because the outcome depends crucially on the actions chosen by governments, industries, and households,” said Sean Becketti, the report’s author and former chief economist at Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC). “Given the uncertainty over those actions, the future path of climate change could continue to get much worse.”
One of the most significant challenges posed by climate change, the report warned, was to the already-beleaguered National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
“Increases this century in insurance claims generated by climate change are likely to stretch the NFIP to the breaking point, facing homebuyers, lenders, GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] and governments with a host of difficult questions,” the report observed. “In addition, independent estimates of flood risk suggest that the NFIP currently excludes 2/3 of the at-risk properties, suggesting that the current government approach to disaster recovery may become too expensive to sustain in future.”
Furthermore, no housing market will be spared from climate change’s wrath, the report noted, predicting that urban areas will face increased risks from extreme weather, flooding, air pollution, water scarcity, rising sea levels and storm surges while rural areas face the threat of dramatic changes in water availability, food security and agricultural incomes.
For mortgage lenders, servicers and investors, the report continued, climate change “may increase mortgage default and prepayment risks, trigger adverse selection in the types of loans that are sold to the GSEs, increase the volatility of house prices, and even produce significant climate migration.”
Identifying The Response: In order to mitigate the challenges that climate change will bring, the report offered strategies to review including “incorporating building modifications into new construction (easier) and existing buildings (more difficult and more expensive) and increasing the resiliency of communities through infrastructure improvements and standards.”
The report acknowledged that such strategies “are costly and require a high degree of adoption and cooperation that does not currently exist,” but it predicted that federal regulators and investors will apply pressure to ensure this is not shrugged off.
“In considering the example of estimating the impact of increased flooding on mortgage default risk, it is apparent that better and more standardized predictors of environmental risks will be needed,” the report concluded.
New Mexico cattle ranchers pummeled by ongoing drought
Robert Nott, The Santa Fe New Mexican
State Sen. Pat Woods saw a lot of it over this past year — cows culled from a herd and sent to the slaughterhouse because their owners couldn’t afford to feed them anymore.
“It was awfully dry,” said the longtime rancher and Republican lawmaker from Broadview, a ranching community about 30 miles north of Clovis. “They were forecasting it would never rain again and it was going to be such a tough year that a lot of ranchers didn’t want to put their money into the cow.”
The drought strikes again — and its effects are having a significant impact on the state’s cattle ranching industry, according to a new report from the New Mexico State University Department of Animal and Range Sciences.
The report, which was presented to Woods and other members of the interim Water and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, laid out in stark terms how drought conditions are hurting ranchers.
Some climate experts have called the drought enveloping the southwestern part of the country one of the worst in centuries. As of last Thursday, when the last U.S. Drought Monitor report for New Mexico was updated, about two-thirds of the state was experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions. And that was after a healthy monsoon season in many areas.
Among other outcomes, drought conditions decrease animal growth, diminish forage opportunities for livestock, increase the cost of production and decrease calf prices, the report says.
That in turn leads to extra costs when it comes to restocking herds that have been thinned out.
Calling the situation “the perfect storm of drought and pandemic,” Loren Patterson, president-elect of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, said the industry is reeling under “all of the above” pointed out in the study.
“It has a pretty big impact on us economically,” he said by phone following the presentation of the report. “It raises our cost of production. Not only do we have to reduce cow numbers, we have to supplement more for the cows we keep.”
Economically speaking, the cattle industry is a meaty, if not mighty, force. A 2019 report, from the environmental publication Sustainability, said its role in the state economy is “substantial.” Using 2012 data, it said about 44 percent of revenue from the state’s agricultural industry is derived from cattle.
Patterson said while those who work in agriculture are accustomed to dealing with problems brought on by longterm drought, “it’s always a little tougher than you prepare for.”
Ultimately, consumers will feel the brunt of the impacts at meat markets, grocery stores and restaurants, Patterson said.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index reports the price of beef and veal went up 6.5 percent between July 2020 and July 2021 — though it does not provide an explanation for the increase.
And there may be less beef to go around. Patterson said ranchers who have thinned herds are now trying to restock them by keeping female cows so they birth calves. Those cows are not headed into the food supply chain anytime soon. That can affect the beef supply for up to three years, he said.
Restocking is expensive, the report says.
Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, who is a rancher and a member of the interim committee, said she has experienced that cost firsthand — noting in an interview she had to sell off more than 100 of her herd at the end of 2019 because of the effects drought had on her operation.
Now, trying to restock, she finds cows once worth $700 going for nearly twice that price as demand outpaces supply.
“That’s a scarcity of a commodity that we as ranchers need,” Ezzell said.
Carla Gomez, a small cattle rancher in Mora County, said the drought has had a “devastating” impact on fellow ranchers in her area, despite a season of really good rainfall.
“Here in Mora, a lot of people who have had cattle in the past don’t anymore because of this continual drought cycle,” she said. “People sell their cattle … some people build the herd back up and some don’t.”
The report offers a number of recommendations for easing the drought’s effects, such as weaning and selling offspring early to reduce grazing fees; providing supplements to replace milk and grass for feed purposes; culling both old and young “low productivity” animals out of herds; keeping animals in a pen to feed them stored-up food products.
Some of these options are expensive, the report noted.
While Patterson said these options will “absolutely” help, selling off livestock or sending them to the slaughterhouse is “economically devastating” for cattle ranchers.
And, he said, it will cost the state and local counties in tax revenue because cattle ranchers “pay taxes on every head of livestock, so obviously the counties and state will realize less taxes.”
Tropical Depression 12 forms in far east Atlantic. It could be Hurricane Larry by Friday
Alex Harris, Michelle Marchante
A new, powerful tropical depression formed in the far east Atlantic, and it could become Hurricane Larry as soon as Friday.
The latest forecast shows a track with a slight northern curve by week’s end, more toward Bermuda than the southeast coast of the U.S. At that point, the National Hurricane Center forecasts, it could be a Category 2 with 105 mph maximum winds.
The hurricane center said its forecast was “possibly conservative” for how strong the storm could get in this window and in the middle of model guidance that showed either a more westward track or northern track.
It’s too soon to know if this storm will take a Hurricane Florence-style path and make it to the U.S. coast, but right now the models don’t suggest that will happen.
As of the 5 p.m. update, tropical depression 12 was 335 miles southeast of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands. It had 35 mph maximum sustained winds and was heading west-northwest at 16 mph.
The other tropical depression in the middle of the Atlantic, Kate, has much dimmer future prospects. It’s forecast to become a remnant low by Friday.
Forecasters also expect to see a disturbance form in the southern Caribbean Sea in the next few days. It could see some slow development by the end of the week if it remains over water, according to the hurricane center. The system is forecast to move west-northwest or northwest at 5 to 10 mph toward Central America.
It had a 10% chance of formation in the next two days and a 20% chance of formation through the next five days by the 2 p.m. update.
By the end of the week, forecasters said “land interaction with Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico will likely limit further development of this system.”
As for Tropical Depression Ida, the hurricane center issued its final advisory for it early Tuesday. The Weather Prediction Center will now provide updates on the system while it remains a flood threat.
Trump’s lawyers used his tactics to spread disinfo. Now they’re paying for it.
By Barbara McQuade, MSNBC Opinion Columnist August 27, 2021
The pro-Trump lawyers may still have succeeded in giving Trump and his allies the talking points they need to perpetuate the big lie.
Truth has taken a beating during the past few years, from former President Donald Trump’s claims about the size of the crowd at his inauguration to his statements that Covid-19 was a hoax. But on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker, in Detroit, took a strong stand in its defense when she issued an order imposing sanctions against lawyers aligned with former President Donald Trump for what she called “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”
The lawyers sought a preliminary injunction to decertify the election results and to certify Trump as the winner instead.
Shortly after the November election, attorneys Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and others filed a lawsuit on behalf of Michigan voters against state officials alleging a scheme to “illegally manipulate the vote count” in favor of President Joe Biden, who won the election in Michigan by around 150,000 votes.
The lawyers sought a preliminary injunction to decertify the election results and to certify Trump as the winner instead. In December, Judge Parker denied the injunction request, finding that the plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits, and noting that the claims were based on nothing more than “theories, conjecture and speculation.”
In July, Parker held a roughly six-hour hearing, in which Trump’s lawyers had few answers to her questions about the absence of a factual basis for their allegations. In a 110-page opinion, Parker took the rare step of punishing the lawyers for their abuse of the court system. Finding that the lawsuit had been filed “in bad faith and for an improper purpose,” she ordered the lawyers to pay the legal fees incurred by taxpayers of the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit.
She also ordered the lawyers to complete 12 of hours of legal education on pleading standards and election law. And she directed the clerk to send her opinion to the disciplinary authorities in the jurisdictions where each lawyer is licensed to consider suspension or disbarment.
Parker cited the need to deter others from engaging in similar behavior, which she characterized as “deceiving a federal court and the American people into believing that rights were infringed, without regard to whether any laws or rights were in fact violated.”
Lawyers have a legal and ethical duty to avoid filing lawsuits that are frivolous. But calling this lawsuit frivolous is to understate its harm. The term “frivolous” suggests a lack of legal merit. What happened here was far more sinister.
Calling this lawsuit frivolous is to understate its harm.
These lawyers most certainly were aware they lacked the evidence to win this lawsuit. And yet they filed it anyway because it advanced an affirmative disinformation campaign designed to convince the public that the election had been stolen. As Parker wrote, “This case was never about fraud—it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.”
Filing a lawsuit without any factual basis sounds a lot like the strategy that a book by two Washington Post reporters said another Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, articulated on election night in November: “Just say we won.”
Trump himself apparently repeated a version of this mantra in a December phone conversation with acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. After Rosen rebuffed Trump’s requests to investigate election fraud, The Washington Post reported, he pressured him to “just say the election was corrupt, and leave the rest to me.” In fact, according to Gordon Sondland, the former ambassador to the European Union, Trump used a similar tactic with the president of Ukraine. In exchange for military aid and a White House meeting, Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not actually have to conduct an investigation of Biden, Sondland testified — he just had to announce one.
Similarly, Powell and her colleagues did not need to win their lawsuits in Michigan and elsewhere; they just needed to file them to give Trump and his allies the talking points they needed to perpetuate the big lie. Parker wrote, “Many people have latched on to this narrative, citing as proof counsel’s submissions in this case.”
In imposing sanctions, Parker called out the lawyers who are willing to kill truth to advance a political agenda. Sanctions, she wrote, were necessary in this case to deter “future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged and our democratic institutions cannot be trusted.”
Only by exposing disinformation tactics can we begin to recognize them and build resilience to them as an electorate.
Maher Breaks Down Why Californians Should Vote No on the Newsom Recall (Video)
On the latest “Real Time,” Bill Maher spent several minutes talking about the upcoming California recall vote to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, and during the discussion made a convincing case for why people need to vote against it.
First though, he kicked the discussion off with the usual mid show gag, this time where he showed viewers a (fake) list of various weird people trying to become governor of California in the recall who were only slightly weirder than some of the real-lidates. Which was of course the joke; Maher wanted to make it clear just how stupid and awful this situation is). You can watch that at the top of the page right now.
After the mid-show gag, Maher got into the ins and outs of the recall itself. Now, a lot of the context was left unsaid during the chat, so to catch those of you who aren’t Californians or just haven’t been paying attention: Critics of the recall have repeatedly noted problems such as the extremely low threshold for recalls to end up on a ballot, the extremely low threshold to pass, and the absurdly undemocratic way the governor’s successor is subsequently chosen if the recall passes.
First, recall petitions are required to only get enough signatures to equal 12% of the total vote in the previous election. Second, Then, the recall wins or loses by simple majority vote — literally anything over 50%. Complicating things, voters are required to vote for or against the recall AND vote for a possible replacement on the same ballot, adding confusion and pressure. And finally, if the recall passes, then the replacement candidate with the most votes, even if it’s a tiny amount of the total, wins. The winner is not required to win a majority of the actual electorate or even just win more votes than the number of people who opposed the recall. Read more about why these things are such a problem here.
Now that you have the basics of this whole mess, back to Maher, who discussed this with his panel guests Jackie Calmes and Max Rose.
“People just don’t accept elections anymore. This is part of it. They just don’t accept elections. I mean, Gavin Newsom didn’t do anything! He’s a Democratic governor who won in a landslide was 62% of the vote, and then governed as a Democratic governor in a state where he won big that is only a quarter Republican. That’s the crime. It’s just ‘you won. F— it.’ This stupid state. So stupid that we have this. You only need 12%. 12% of the people. He won by 62% — if 12% sign this petition…” Maher said.
“This is the only way a republican can get elected statewide, just about, in California. And at least you got to give them credit. They’re they’re doing it by the rules this time,” Calmes joked.
Then Maher got to the real reason for voting no: It would allow a party that cannot win elections in California to make decisions — like Senate representation — overruling the wishes of the electorate, which could have generations-long consequences. His way into that topic was far right Republican Larry Elder who has become the leading candidate out of all the possible replacements.
“I know Larry, I like Larry. He’s been on this show or my old show or something. He’s the leading candidate to replace… and he could. This is very possible,” Maher said before getting to the problems. “Larry Elder, he’s anti-climate change — he’s a climate change skeptic. Opposes abortion, gun control and minimum wage. You know, like the usual California. And he could win.”
“And there’s national ramifications,” he continued. “I don’t think people realize this — Governor Larry Elder gets to appoint a senator. One of our senators is 88. Dianne Feinstein. So I hope she lives to 100. But if she doesn’t, he could appoint the next senator, who would then tip the Senate. And then if Stephen Briar croaks, they get to pick the Supreme Court Justice.”
Guns from America are pouring into Mexico, arming violent drug gangs.
From Robert Reich August 5, 2021
Even as Republican members of Congress accuse Joe Biden of failing to secure the nation’s southern border, Mexico is facing a growing problem of securing its northern border. Guns from America are pouring into Mexico, arming violent drug gangs.
Mexico has tried just about everything to stop the flow of firearms from the north – passing strict gun control laws, imposing stiff penalties on traffickers, and pleading with U.S. authorities to stop the trafficking – but nothing has worked.
So now it’s doing what any litigious American would do: it’s suing.
Mexico announced Wednesday it’s seeking at least $10 billion in compensation from America’s 11 major gun manufacturers for the havoc the guns have wrought south of the border. It alleges America’s gunmakers know their products are being trafficked to Mexico and are expressly marketing their weapons to Mexican criminal gangs – designing guns to be “easily modified to fire automatically” and be “readily transferable on the criminal market in Mexico.”
The deluge of firearms from the United States to Mexico – on average, more than 500 every day – is contributing to mayhem there. Killings have become a routine part of the Mexican drug trade. In Mexico’s recent midterm election campaign, 30 candidates were gunned down by criminal gangs. In 2019 alone, at least 17,000 homicides in Mexico were linked to trafficked weapons.
Yet Mexico’s lawsuit is likely to face tough going in the United States, where easy accessibility to guns is also wreaking havoc but where gun ownership is considered a constitutional right and gun purchases are skyrocketing.
In addition, American gunmakers have erected a fortress of legal protections. In 2005, the gun lobby got congressional Republicans to enact the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act, banning most lawsuits brought against gun manufacturers for marketing and distributing their products.
At a more basic level, American capitalism considers any market to be an opportunity to make a profit. After all, a buck is a buck (or, more precisely, 19.98 pesos, at today’s exchange rate). In America, buying and selling are hallmarks of freedom. For government to prohibit a sale is to intrude on the “free market.” For another government to bar its consumers from buying American goods is to violate “free trade.”
Alejandro Celorio, a legal advisor to Mexico’s foreign ministry, estimates the damage to the Mexican economy caused by trafficked guns to total 1.7% to 2% of Mexico’s gross domestic product. What’s left unsaid is that Mexico’s illicit drug business is also a boon to the Mexican economy, adding billions of dollars each year in foreign sales — mostly to American consumers eager to buy thousands of kilos of methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl each year.
Freedom of contract, it’s called. We sell them guns that kill them; they sell us drugs that kill us.
But this isn’t trade in goods. It’s trade in bads. There’s death on both sides.
The merchants of such death – American gunmakers like Glock, Smith & Wesson, Beretta USA, Barrett, Century International Arms and Colt; Mexican producers of methamphetamines, heroin, and fentanyl; and the wholesalers and traffickers connecting buyers with sellers on both sides of the border – are making piles of money. Free market ideologues will argue that as long as everyone is getting what they want, these trades are efficient. Yet vast numbers of people are dying.
The Republicans who protect gun manufacturers and who are criticizing Joe Biden for failing to secure the southern border from migrants who are desperate to come to America should take note of this tragic irony.
The flood of guns from America into Mexico is helping fuel much of the crime, violence, and corruption pushing thousands of Mexicans to seek a better life north of the border.
It’s also enabling the flow of dangerous drugs from Mexico to America that are killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, many in states and congressional districts represented by those same Republicans.
Guns, dangerous drugs, and desperate migrants are inextricably connected. The answer to solving one of these problems lies in responding to all three.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection, injury, and toxins, and while it can often be painful, it plays a vital role in your body’s healing process by activating the immune system to begin repairing damaged cells. When left unchecked, though, chronic inflammation can injure your tissues, joints, and blood vessels. “Acute inflammation is how the body fights infections and is not something that should be of concern,” explains registered dietitian Mia Syn. “But when chronic inflammation occurs, the immune system fights indefinitely.”
Those who suffer from the latter may experience negative effects such as widespread pain, joint swelling, and skin irritation. The good news? Taking certain vitamins every day can actively help reduce acute and chronic inflammation, as well as improve your overall health. To better understand these supplements and their benefits, we spoke to leading nutritionists. Ahead, their insights and vitamin recommendations to fight inflammation daily.
Rich in fatty acids, fish oils are widely known for their heart health benefits, but you may not know is that they also play a key role in fighting inflammation and easing joint pain. “Fish oil contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are omega-3 fatty acids that may help reduce the production of cytokines, a group of proteins that trigger inflammation throughout the body,” says Syn.
When it comes to omega-3 supplements, Amy Gorin, a plant-based registered dietitian and the owner of Plant-Based Eats, adds that it’s important to choose trusted and responsibly-sourced products. “I’m a fan of NOW Ultra Omega-3, which provides 500 milligrams of EPA and 250 milligrams of DHA for optimal cardiovascular support and brain health. I trust this product because it’s manufactured under strict quality standards, meaning it’s tested to be void of potentially harmful levels of contaminants including mercury, other heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins,” she explains. If you’re looking for a plant-based source of EPA and DHA, opt for an algae-based supplement like Zenwise’s vegan fish-oil alternative, she notes.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in the spice turmeric and is often used in Ayurvedic medicine. This natural compound is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant properties and has been found to combat chronic inflammation, ease swelling in joints, and even reduce blood sugars in type 2 diabetes. However, since curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, it’s best to choose a supplement that contains piperine—a substance in black pepper that increases the absorption of curcumin.
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“Vitamin A is involved with immune function and cellular communication and is an antioxidant that can reverse cellular damage from oxidative stress,” explains registered dietitian Nijya Saffo. Studies have shown that vitamin A is not only necessary for protecting your immune system, but it can also help with proper bone growth. Those deficient in vitamin A may be more susceptible to bone fractures and may take longer to recover from inflammation and infections.
Shop Now:NOW Supplements Vitamin A, $12.29, amazon.com.
Whenever you feel a cold coming on, chances are you turn to vitamin C for its immune-boosting properties, but this powerhouse ingredient should have a place in your routine far beyond the context of flu season. The powerful antioxidant works to neutralize free radicals that cause cell damage and inflammation, making it an essential vitamin for your overall health. Plus, maintaining a healthy immune system is paramount to keeping inflammation at bay. To get your daily dose of vitamin C, Saffo recommends Nature Made’s Vitamin C caplets.
Shop Now: Nature Made Vitamin C 500 mg Caplets with Rose Hips, $7.89, amazon.com.
Vitamin D helps regulate the production of inflammatory proteins in the body and is derived from fortified foods and sun exposure. Research shows that low levels of vitamin D have been linked to inflammatory diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and immune-related disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Introducing vitamin D into your diet can help alleviate inflammation as well as maintain strong and healthy bones.
Vitamin E is another potent, antioxidant-rich vitamin. Much like vitamin A, vitamin E blocks inflammatory proteins and prevents the immune system from overreacting and causing an inflammatory response. Saffo recommends this Vitamin E supplement from Garden of Life that comes with the added benefits of probiotics and vitamins A, D, and K.
Shop Now: Garden of Life Vitamin E Supplement, $20.29, amazon.com.
Ginger has long been used in alternative and modern medicine alike to treat everything from nausea to arthritis. Its main active compound is Gingerol—a compound rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some research shows that when ingested, this spicy root can reduce joint pain and stiffness in degenerative joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis. You can introduce ginger into your diet by way of teas and smoothies or opt for easy-to-take supplements, like this one from Nature’s Bounty.
Capsaicin is the compound found in chili peppers; it gives them their spicy kick. Not only is capsaicin a popular ingredient in many spicy dishes, but it’s also known for its pain-relieving properties. Science reflects that: Research shows that capsaicin works mainly by reducing substance P—a pain transmitter in your nerves—which can greatly reduce discomfort and tenderness in joints. Because of its analgesic effects, capsaicin is often recommended for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Shop Now:Nature’s Way Cayenne Pepper, $8.56, amazon.com.
If you’re a red wine lover, then chances are you’ve heard of resveratrol. This plant-based antioxidant is found in red wine, grapes, and peanuts and has shown to reduce inflammation and ease joint pain; it has also been linked to reducing the severity of certain inflammatory bowel diseases.
Probiotics can help promote a healthy balance of “good bacteria” in the gut and can aid in everything from digestive health to immune function. Certain probiotics from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains may help improve the symptoms of certain inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and IBS. This probiotic from Seed contains 24 different strains to support full-body health.
American west stuck in cycle of ‘heat, drought and fire’, experts warn
Maanvi Singh in San Francisco
As fires propagate throughout the US west on the heels of record heat waves, experts are warning that the region is caught in a vicious feedback cycle of extreme heat, drought and fire, all amplified by the climate crisis.
Firefighters are battling blazes from Arizona to Washington state that are burning with a worrying ferocity, while officials say California is already set to outpace last year’s record-breaking fire season.
Extreme heat waves over the past few weeks – which have smashed records everywhere from southern California to Nevada and Oregon – are causing the region’s water reserves to evaporate at an alarming rate, said Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit advocacy group. And devoid of moisture, the landscape heats up quickly, like a hot plate, desiccating the landscape and turning vegetation into kindling.
“For our most vulnerable, disadvantaged communities, this also creates compounding health effects,” Ortiz said. “First there’s the heat. Then for many families their water supplies are affected. And then it’s also the same heat and drought that are exacerbating wildfires and leading to smoky, unhealthy air quality.”
In northern California, the largest wildfire to hit the state this year broke out over the weekend and has so far consumed more than 140 sq miles (362 sq km). The Beckwourth Complex grew so fast and with such intensity that it whipped up a rare fire tornado – a swirling vortex of smoke and fire.
Meanwhile, the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon engulfed more than 240 sq miles (621 sq km) and has doubled in size three times over the weekend. After the fire disrupted electric transmission lines, California’s power grid operator asked residents to conserve electricity on Monday evening to avoid brownouts.
“The fire behavior we are seeing on the Bootleg fire is among the most extreme you can find and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before,” Al Lawson, an incident commander for the Bootleg fire, said in a statement.
The intensity of the fires in California and Oregon is “not something you used to see” so early in the season, absent the strong late summer and fall winds that fuel the west’s biggest fires, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with the University of California, Los Angeles. The unprecedented drought gripping the west, alongside “mind-blowing” heat waves, are fueling extreme fires this year, Swain said, adding that the extreme conditions could set the stage for “considerably worse” fires in late summer and fall. Historically, September and October have been the worst months for megafires in California.
This week, smoke from the various fires in the west is expected to carry across the country, reaching up into Minnesota and bleeding into central Canada. Forecasters are predicting that the intense high temperatures that came last weekend as a heat dome smothered the west are likely to ease later this week, and the south-west is likely to see some drought-relieving rain throughout the week. Still, large swaths of the west, including California, the Pacific north-west, and the northern Rocky Mountain region are expected to face dangerous conditions, including the possibility of dry lightning and strong winds.
“All of these fires bear some sign of climate change, which is really a threat multiplier,” said Faith Kearns, a scientist at the California Institute for Water Resources. “We have always had fires in the west. The landscape is in many ways forged in fire. But the intensity of the fires we’re seeing now, that some of these fires are happening so early in the summer, those things are definitely concerning.”
For climate scientists and fire ecologists who have been warning for decades that global heating would bring on hotter heat waves, drier droughts and more fire, “it can be really demoralizing and very frustrating to find ourselves here,” Kearns said. “Maybe this year will finally be the one to heighten our sense of just how vulnerable we are.”
Whether that leads to big changes in the public’s will to address the climate crisis and adapt to a landscape that is expected to burn with increasing intensity “remains up in the air”, she said.
Western wildfires: Over 300K acres burned across 6 states; 2 firefighters dead after plane crashes in Arizona
More than 300,000 acres are burning across six states across the western United States on Sunday as the region battled yet another brutal heat wave that shattered records and strained power grids.
The largest, the so-called Bootleg Fire, burned across 143,607 acres in Oregon and was 0% contained. Officials in neighboring state California asked all residents to reduce power consumption quickly after the fire knocked out interstate power lines, preventing up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from flowing into the state.
“The Bootleg Fire will see the potential for extreme growth today,” the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, said on Twitter, fueled by extreme drought and temperatures near 100 that aren’t expected to subside until midweek.
“The fire behavior we are seeing on the Bootleg Fire is among the most extreme you can find and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before,” fire incident commander Al Lawson said.
NV Energy, Nevada’s largest power provider, also urged customers to conserve electricity Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Western heat wave: Las Vegas tied all-time high of 117; Palm Springs hits 120
Death Valley in southeastern California’s Mojave Desert reached 128 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service’s reading at Furnace Creek. The shockingly high temperature was actually lower than the previous day, when the location reached 130,
The 130-degree reading, if confirmed, would be the hottest high recorded there since July 1913, when Furnace Creek desert hit 134, considered the highest measured temperature on Earth.
The National Weather Service warned the dangerous conditions could cause heat-related illnesses.
Palm Springs in Southern California hit a record high temperature of 120 Saturday. It was the fourth time temperatures have reached 120 degrees so far this year, the Desert Sun reported.
In California’s agricultural Central Valley, 100-degree temperatures blanketed the region, with Fresno reaching 111 degrees, just one degree short of the all-time high for the date.
Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon tied the all-time high of 117, the National Weather Service said. The city has recorded that record-high temperature four other times, most recently in June 2017.
2 firefighters dead after responding to Arizona wildfire
Two Arizona firefighters died after a plane responding to a wildfire in the state crashed on Saturday afternoon, according to the federal Bureau of Land Management. The Cedar Story Basin Fire was 700 acres and was 0% contained.
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little declared a wildfire emergency Friday and mobilized the state’s National Guard to help fight fires sparked after lightning storms swept across the drought-stricken region. The wildfires there had burned a combined 39,000 acres as of Sunday.