Skip to Content

How Could California’s Fires Get Worse? Climate Change, Says New Report

Thanks to climate change, California’s fires will only continue to get worse in the coming years, according to California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, released Monday by the Golden State governor’s office.

California wildfires, including the Mendocino Complex Fire and Carr Fire, have broken records in 2018. And due to the impacts of climate change, the number of these types of large fires will increase by 50% by the end of the century, and the amount of land that burns each year will increase by 77%, according to the new report.

California’s weather woes will not be limited to wildfire destruction. Exacerbated conditions already starting to show up across the state, such as sea level rise eroding beaches and impacting public shoreline access, as well as critical water shortages and major droughts plaguing Central Valley farms, will worsen as global warming becomes more severe.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, a number of trends may worsen significantly by the year 2100. Average daily temperates are projected to rise as much as 5.6 to 8.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Fires consuming at least 25,000 acres will occur 50% more often. By 2055, the cost of wildfire insurance is estimated to rise by 18%. And by 2050, drinking water supplied by mountain ice pack is anticipated to decrease by two-thirds.

The Trump administration has been criticized for environmental and emissions policy deregulation that worries scientists already observing the impacts of climate change on weather patterns and natural disasters like mega-fires and years-long droughts.

California governor Jerry Brown took direct aim at President Trump in his prepared statements about the report via Twitter.

“In California, facts and science still matter,” Brown wrote. “These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change.”