Although investigators have determined the fires plaguing the areas around Santa Barbara and Montecito, Calif. were “human caused,” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a different idea of what is behind the lengthy wildfire season.
Schwarzenegger appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Nov. 16 and discussed the dilemmas plaguing his state, especially the widespread fires throughout California, which forced Schwarzenegger to declare a state of emergency that very day. Schwarzenegger told Stephanopoulos global warming has caused wildfires to be a year-round problem.
“Through global warming, we have now a fire season all year round,” Schwarzenegger said. “We used to have fire seasons only in the fall. But now the fire seasons start in February already.”
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Schwarzenegger’s assessment of the fires troubling various regions of his state was similar to warnings from CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Tom Foreman in 2007 – that global warming was setting the state up for a “century of fires.”
The California governor told “This Week” the government would have to ramp up its fire-fighting capabilities and that would take more money.
“So this means that we have to really upgrade and have more resources, more fire engines, more manpower, and all of this, which, of course, does cost extra money,” he said. “But I think that that’s what – you know, why you have reserves in the budget.”
But in the past, experts have cautioned against blaming these wildfires on global warming, especially in Southern California. Tom Wordell, a wildland fire analyst at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho told the Spokane, Wash. Spokesman-Review on Oct. 24, 2007 the area is just “fire-prone” and global warming has little to do with it.
“That is a fire-prone environment regardless of whether we are in a climate-change scenario,” Wordell said. “I don’t want to be callous, because many people are homeless and suffering, but if you live in a snake pit, you’re going to get bit.”