Flames have become the unofficial face of climate change for Sonoma County, in the wake of the catastrophic Tubbs and Kincade fires that tore through the northern parts of the county in 2017 and 2019. Together the two fires burned more than 114,000 acres, roughly a tenth of the county, claimed 22 lives, and destroyed almost 5,000 homes. However, increased frequency and severity of wildfire is only one of the many ways that climate change is poised to affect life in Sonoma County. “The fires got us all out of our silos,” says Lisa Micheli, president of the Pepperwood Foundation and Dwight Center for Conservation Science. “The inextricable linkages between the natural world and our built environment mean that we all need to talk to one another.” Drought and warmer temperatures promise to disrupt county agriculture and the natural environment, such as the fog-dependent coast redwoods. Drought also threatens water supplies while intense and frequent winter storms increase flooding. The Russian River already has the highest repetitive flood loss damages of any location west of the Rockies. “I tend to think of climate hazards as the horsemen of the apocalypse: there is fire, flood, drought, heat wave, and sea-level rise,” says the Sonoma Ecology Center’s Caitlin Cornwall. “We had all of these before—just not at this frequency or severity.”Read More
Photo: Burn out from Tubbs Fire, Santa Rosa in 2017 by Jacoba Charles.
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