Videos and firsthand accounts have made it increasingly clear that official failures enabled wildfires to incinerate the Hawaiian island of Maui earlier this month, leaving more than 100 people dead and about 1,000 missing.
Downed power lines from a utility company that failed to turn off the power ignited the fire, and Maui’s unqualified disaster chief chose not to sound the warning sirens. But before much of anything had been established, Democratic politicians and journalists filled the void with faux-certainty about the role of climate change.
New York Times: "How Climate Change Turned Lush Hawaii Into a Tinderbox":
The explanation [for the wildfires] is as straightforward as it is sobering: As the planet heats up, no place is protected from disasters.
Atlantic: "Hawaii Is a Warning":
The world doesn’t need more reminders that climate change is accelerating. But we’re going to keep getting them.
Associated Press: "Maui’s Fire Became Deadly Fast. Climate Change, Flash Drought, Invasive Grass, And More Fueled It":
Experts say climate change is increasing the likelihood of these flash droughts as well as other extreme weather events like what’s playing out on the island of Maui, where dozens of people have been killed and a historic tourist town was devastated.
Los Angeles Times: "How a Perfect Storm of Climate And Weather Led to Catastrophic Maui Fire":
To a Californian, many of the factors that appear to have coalesced into a catastrophic fire that killed at least 36 people on Hawaii’s Maui island are all too familiar. Yet for a tropical region that traditionally sees only mild wildfire activity, the chance interaction of terrain, weather, building development, vegetation, and the growing force multiplier of climate change have seemingly rewritten natural history.
MSNBC: "Climate Change Fueling Maui's Deadly Wildfires":
Basically, everything that we're seeing is happening in a changed world.
Reuters: "Hawaii Wildfires Kill 36 as 'Apocalypse' Hits Maui Island Resort City":
Human-caused climate change, driven by fossil fuel use, is increasing the frequency and intensity of such extreme weather events, scientists say, having long warned that government officials must slash emissions to prevent climate catastrophe.
The origin of the fire has not yet been determined but it was likely a human-caused accident boosted by weather and environmental conditions, experts say.
A study published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire last year found that human-caused ignition was associated with a large portion of fires in California between 1919 and 2016.
The researchers also found that the fire spread more quickly because of drought and heat amplified by greenhouse gas emissions.
Lahaina has a similar fire danger as parts of central California, Swain said, and many tourists are not aware that the wildfire potential on the island is not rare.