Weather is specific events, climate is the long-term pattern. Catastrophes like the forest fire in Colorado that has expelled 32,000 people from their homes are the results of weather. But long-term climate change can increase the likelihood of such events. That is, we may have a big, wet snow in Colorado some winter in the near future. But you have to average it with all the winters like the past one, relatively warm and dry, and the latter will have the edge over time if we go on with our high-carbon ways.
Over the coming decades, the American Southwest will become drier and warmer as a result of all the carbon dioxide and soot that the US, China and other industrial societies are dumping into the atmosphere.
Therefore there will be more forest fires like the one in Colorado. And, as Deborah Zabarenko writes for Reuters, the scientific evidence on this dim future is building up.
As I said, some 32,000 Coloradans have been forced from their homes so far:
Zabarenko follows up on a recent article in the journal Ecosphere, which lays out the case, and I was delighted to find is available in full text on the Web.
Professor Max A. Moritz at the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues find the long-term probability of increase of forest fires in the American southwest is high.
Texas and Arizona are among those states at risk — further evidence that the Red States that engage in active climate change denial are committing suicide. I suspect most Coloradans know exactly what is happening to them and why, and my heart goes out to them.