AOC issues stark warning over California wildfires: “This is what climate change looks like”

History’s youngest congresswoman has shared a dramatic photo of the wildfires currently ravaging California, driving home the catastrophic evidence of global warming to climate deniers.      

For those who label her Green New Deal “too much” – or worse, claim global warming is exaggerated – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a message: climate change poses a real and immediate danger.

The Democratic congresswoman tweeted a photo of the wildfires raging in California today, with a warning to deniers in the Republican party: “This is what climate change looks like.”

Authorities in California have declared a state-wide emergency as firefighters struggle to contain a series of blazes that erupted across Sonoma County last Wednesday.

High winds in the region are making the situation worse, and around 200,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes – with wildfire warnings now issued in 43 of California’s 58 counties. Over two million Californians have also been affected by a deliberate and preemptive blackout in the area.

The National Weather Service said the crisis was caused by a powerful windstorm which is creating “potentially historic fire weather conditions”.

A study published earlier this year shows a direct link between global warming and wildfires of the kind currently raging in California. As temperatures continue to rise, grasslands and forests such as those found in America’s golden state will become more arid – and therefore more vulnerable to fires; which in turn are becoming larger, and more difficult to control.

“Each degree of warming causes way more fire than the previous degree of warming did. And that’s a really big deal,” Park Williams, the climate scientist who co-authored the latest research, tells The Atlantic.

Unveiled in February this year, Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is designed to reign in the catastrophic effects of climate damage, in order to limit the kind of disaster we’re seeing play out in California right now.

An ambitious piece of legislation,  the 10-year mobilisation plan will affect nearly all areas of US policy via its key goals of 100% renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030, and complete decarbonisation of the US economy by the year 2050. 

The resolution, which also supports universal healthcare and free higher education, has been co-sponsored by 60 members of the House and nine senators (including presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders).

However, leading renewable energy firms in the States have criticised the plan as too extreme and politically divisive. Others have been less restrained; right-wing pundits rushed to dismiss AOC’s vision as “pie-in-the-sky” and “an untrammeled Dear Santa letter”.

In the face of calls for moderation over climate change measures, Ocasio-Cortez has been typically resolute. “Here’s what’s too much for me,” the Democrats’ rising star told a rally in May. “What’s too much for me is politicians looking and allowing babies blood to get poisoned in Flint for corporate profits. That is what is too much for me.”

“What is too much for me, is the fact that in 1989 – the year that I was born, the year that many of us were born… that politicians were first informed by NASA, that congress was first notified by NASA, that climate change was going to threaten my life and everyone here’s life to come and they did nothing. That is too much for me.

“I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say, ‘We need a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives’,” she concluded. 

The politician also batted off media accusations of hypocrisy based on the fact she sometimes takes a car to work and once failed to recycle peelings from a sweet potato (yes, really).

“Living in the world as it is isn’t an argument against working towards a better future,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the time. “The Green New Deal is about putting a LOT of people to work in developing new technologies, building new infrastructure, and getting us to 100% renewable energy.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Images: Getty

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