Is Climate Change Worsening California’s Wildfires? Scientists Say 'Yes'

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Climate change is worsening California’s wildfires dramatically, and the trend is expected to accelerate. 

Climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, has documented just how much worse California's fires have become as the planet has warmed. 

"The frequency of extreme wildfire weather during the autumn season in California has doubled in last four decades," said Diffenbaugh. 

Now, that fire season is essentially year-round.  

This week, Central Valley Congressman Devin Nunes scoffed at what he called the Democrat-Socialist idea that climate change is causing our record wildfires, while Gov. Gavin Newsom said he no longer has any patience for climate deniers, such as Nunes and President Donald Trump.  

Diffenbaugh told KCBS Radio's "The State Of California" that it’s not that global warming sparks the fires, causes the lightning strikes or makes the power lines come down. It’s that climate change makes California much drier, and the heatwaves hotter, so when the spark does come, it's like a batter stepping up with the bases loaded instead of empty.  

"If we have runners on base, and someone hits a homerun, it does a lot more damage than a solo homerun," Diffenbaugh said. "And, even if global warming didn’t cause the lightning, global warming has the runners on base."

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