In the News

October 20, 2022

2020 wildfire season in California wiped away 16 years of climate gains

Study measures the impact of wildfires on climate change and cites AQLI data showing the impact on air pollution and life expectancy.

The wildfires that have scorched the West in recent years are not just a consequence of climate change, they also are an increasingly sizable driver of the problem, according to a new study.

The research paper, published Monday in the journal Environmental Pollution, finds that California’s wildfires in 2020 caused twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that the state successfully cut between 2003 and 2019. In other words, 2020’s wildfire season, which set a record for the number of acres burned in the state, essentially wiped out 16 years of progress California had made on climate change through efforts such as replacing fossil fuels with clean energy…

…In June, an analysis in the annual Air Quality Life Index found wildfire smoke was so bad in 2020 that it temporarily reversed the gains in air quality from decades of federal and state regulation in California. The entire state was exposed to dangerously high levels of particulate matter, and nationally, 29 of the 30 counties rated as having the worst particulate pollution that year were found in California. Half the counties in the state had the worst air pollution recorded since satellite measurements began in 1998.

Continue reading at Yahoo News…