Alarmed by California’s intensifying wildfires and withering drought, Governor Jerry Brown has lashed out at Republicans and other politicians who continue to deny that destructive climate change is already occurring.
In a series of recent comments, Brown also said California is at “the epicenter of climate change” and urged other states and nations to work to halt the rising temperatures that are threatening the future of humankind.
“We live in a world that is not just government or not just business, it’s natural, the natural systems. And as we send billions and billions of tons of heat-trapping gases, we get heat and we get fires and we get what we’re seeing,” Brown was quoted as saying on ABC News.
“So we’ve got to gear up. We’re going to deal with nature as best we can, but humanity is on a collision course with nature and we’re just going to have to adapt to it in the best way we can.”
Brown added he believes California is taking steps to reduce greenhouse gases in a way that exceeds any other state in the nation.
A Democrat, Brown said it is difficult to create a consensus to act on climate change when Republicans deny global warming exists and that humans are largely responsible for temperature increases in the atmosphere.
“That’s a challenge. It is true that there’s virtually no Republican who accepts the science that virtually is unanimous. I mean there is no scientific question. There’s just political denial for various reasons, best known to those people who are in denial.
“Whatever the thoughts of the Republicans, we here in California are on the front lines. We’ve got to deal with it. We’ve already appropriated $600 million. We have 5,000 firefighters. We’re going to need thousands more. And in the years to come, we’re going to have to make very expensive investments and adjust. And the people are going to have to be careful of how they live, how they build their homes and what kind of vegetation is allowed to grow around them.”
Speaking at a University of California agricultural forum, Brown described the state as one at “the epicenter of climate change.”
According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, the governor said the ongoing drought that is drying up the state’s rich farmland is an example of how climate change is already impacting California, the top agricultural producer in the U.S. at almost $45 billion annually.
“I have a ranch where the temperature was over 100 degrees for 35 days,” Brown was quoted as saying. “I know what heat looks like. Rattlesnakes like it, and it’s not easy to manage if someone throws their cigarette butt out the window.”
Home to 38 million residents, California is already experiencing “severe drought” throughout the entire state. With just over a month until the official beginning of summer, many of California’s major reservoirs are at extremely low levels and the state’s tiny snowpack is quickly melting.
In terms of wildfires, California has already experienced approximately twice as many fires as it usually does in an entire year. Last week, more than 20,000 people were briefly evacuated from their homes near San Diego due to the threat of a surging wildfire.
Earlier this month, a new academic study suggested there may be a direct connection between the persistent drought in California and climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.
Image credit: Julie Dermansky