by Dr M. Wielicki, Aug 10, 2023 in ClimateChangeDispatch
There is currently a wildfire on the Hawaiian island of Maui that has forced evacuations and led some people to flee into the ocean for safety.
The fires are being driven by strong winds and dry air, primarily associated with Hurricane Dora passing hundreds of miles to the south.
The fires have reportedly burned structures and prompted evacuations in Maui, particularly in the Upcountry and Lahaina areas. Lahaina is a popular tourist destination on the island’s northwest side. [emphasis, links added]
Multiple evacuation orders are in effect for the island and there are no details yet on the extent of the damage.
A dozen people were rescued by the Coast Guard after jumping into the ocean to reportedly avoid the flames. Acting Governor Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation on behalf of Gov. Josh Green.
As with every natural disaster, the links to climate change were made almost immediately.
However, attributing a single wildfire directly to climate change is an oversimplification of the myriad factors at play.
Wildfires can be influenced by various causes, including local weather, forest management, human activities, and natural events like hurricanes passing and changing wind patterns.
Historically, the climate has always exhibited natural variability with periods of extreme conditions. It’s crucial to differentiate between this natural variation and the changes driven or intensified by human activities.
Of course that didn’t stop folks from attributing the fires in Maui directly to anthropogenic climate change…