In a week where record temperatures are being recorded in parts of the world all eyes are on the state of the climate.
Hundreds of people are likely to have died as a result of record-breaking temperatures in Canada and the US Northwest, authorities say.
The risk of wildfires has risen in step with the soaring temperatures, with the governor of Oregon issuing a state of emergency and many parts of Canada under threat.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau struck a sombre tone on Wednesday. “We’ve been seeing more and more of this type of extreme weather event in the past years.So realistically, we know that this heatwave won’t be the last.”
But for those living in California the wildfires are something that isn’t at all new.
California has long lived in the imagination as a place of firsts: The first trillion-dollar state economy, first movie theatre, first McDonald’s; the Internet, the electric guitar, the iPhone.
The state is also a harbinger of what’s coming in our rapidly-changing world from the climate crisis. In 2020, California suffered unprecedented wildfires passing a grim milestone of more than 4 million acres burned.
This year in California, and the American West more widely, it’s feared that fires could be even worse. A perfect storm has been building to the events witnessed this week following a heatwave of triple-digit temperatures and the worst drought in 20 years, on top of decades of poor forest management which has left landscapes carpeted in dried-out vegetation, primed to burn.
But California is also synonymous with innovation and progressive solutions from landmark legislation to curb pollution and strides in electric vehicles along with renewable energy.
It’s why The Independent is devoting a new series to wildfires with reporting on-the-ground in California to understand what challenges the state is facing, how it’s adapting - and what those of us beyond the Golden State can learn about our own climate challenges, too.
There’s a lot to think about, and discuss, soThe Independent’s climate team will be here to answer your questions on heatwaves and wildfires, live at 1pm, on Friday 2 July.
All you have to do is register to submit your question in the comments below. If you’re not already a member, click “sign up” in the comments box to leave your question.
Don’t worry if you can’t see your question – they will be hidden until I join the conversation to answer them. Then join us live on this page at 1pm as I tackle as many questions as I can.
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