Southern California Fires Linked to Climate Change

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D-CA) issued the following statement at a Select Committee on Global Warming hearing on biofuels titled “The Gas is Greener on the Other Side: the Future of Biofuels.”

“Communities across Southern California are feeling the effects of climate change as more than 20 fires rage uncontrollably. These fires have burned 420,424 acres, destroyed more than 1,000 homes, forced more than 880,000 people to evacuate – the largest evacuation in the history of California, and threatened health by spreading ash well beyond the immediate threat of the fire.

“Residents are sheltering at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, military installations, and high schools. The California Guard and Marines are being deployed to both help fight the fires, provide security and assist in evacuations, and resources are volunteered from Mexico. These fires are devastating families, our communities, our economy and our state.

“In the June 2006 Science journal, researchers concluded that more than land use changes or forest management practices, the changing climate was the most important factor driving the increase in the average number of large wildfires in the Western United States.

“Human activity has caused climate change and only through human actions can we mitigate and adapt to these changes. Now more than ever, I believe that we must have the courage to take swift action to implement an energy policy that relies less on greenhouse gas emitting fuels and a mandatory emissions reduction policy that quickly brings down emission levels.

“I hope my colleagues from other regions of the United States will join me in supporting our communities in Southern California as we struggle to stop the spread of these fires and cope with the devastation that they are leaving in their wake. I also hope my colleagues will also join me in supporting efforts to combat global warming before its dangerous impacts become irreversible and more communities suffer.”

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