A climate-driven transformation of wildfires around the globe

by Michael Kodas, Inside Climate News


  • Climate change is increasing the severity and size of wildfires across the globe
  • Fires in Colorado burned over 200,000 acres, while fires in California burned an area the size of Rhode Island
  • These Western US fires were predicted by Federal wildfire forecasters due to the trend of low moisture and warm weather
  • New research suggests that fires in California will more than double in the coming decades due to manmade climate change 
  • The marine layer of fog that typically adds moisture to California’s redwood trees has declined by a third, adding to the trees flammability 
  • Colorado has not experienced the monsoon that usually drenches and cools the Southwest, leading the state to become even drier and hotter
  • The western part of the state that is experiencing the most fires has also seen a 2-degree Celsius increase since 1895, twice the global average increase

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.

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California virus war slams into its other crisis: wildfires

By David R Baker and Mark Chediak, Bloomberg Green


Social distancing and stay at home mandates have made preparing for wildfire season harder, limiting tree trimming, controlled burns, and powerline maintenance.

  • Though California may suffer another severe fire season, the U.S. Forest Service has suspended in-person training for firefighters
  • In the State budget Governor Gavin Newsom called for $129 million for new fire-related positions as well as wildfire forecasting center. But an updated budget, reflecting coronavirus realities, is expected by mid-May. Money budgeted for fire prevention might be spent instead on efforts to fight the virus and restart California’s economy
  • As of April 23, 58% of the state was abnormally dry, compared to 6% a year ago and 36% of the state is currently experiencing drought, further fueling the next wildfire season
  • So far this year PG&E has trimmed or chopped down trees along 573 miles of power lines in order to minimize fire vulnerability 
  • Southern California Edison plans to install 700 miles of insulated power lines this year and is now trying to schedule any necessary power interruptions for night time or early morning to minimize the impact on at-home workers 

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With community energy resilience we can ensure that our power is clean and not further contributing to emissions in our communities. 

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PG&E’s fossil fuel-powered microgrids

by Kavya Balaraman, Utility Dive


  • The towns of Angwin, Calistoga, Placerville, and Grass Valley are part of PG&E’s effort to build a network of “resilience zones” and temporary microgrids in portions of its service territory that are especially vulnerable to fire-related outages. PG&E deployed 23 MW of temporary generation from fossil fuel power (diesel) in the four towns powering fire stations, medical centers, and business districts.
  • PG&E is looking for projects that can deploy between 4 MW and 69.9 MW  for four or five consecutive days without any load drop and be able to meet peak and minimum customer demand throughout that period. Some feel that 100% renewables plus storage is not tenable with these requirements
  • “We think you could do clean energy —​ it’s a mix of generation, batteries and demand response,” Sierra Club’s Amezcua said, adding that PG&E’s plans for its resilience zones needs to be consistent with the state’s air quality and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

The Climate Center’s Advanced Community Energy program employs microgrids for resilience and carbon-free power with storage.

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