Dec 2, 2018

California wildfires' carbon emissions equal to a year of power pollution

California
USA
by
AP via NBC News
Image: AP
Image: AP

Wildfires in California in 2018 released the rough equivalent of about 68 million tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide — about the same amount of carbon emissions as are produced in a year to provide electricity to the state, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Friday.

The carbon dioxide figure — based on data analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey — is more than 15 percent of all emissions produced by California in a year, according to Zinke.

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This year included California's deadliest and most destructive wildfire — a blaze in November that took out nearly 14,000 homes in a rural Northern California county and killed at least 88 people. Another fire that started the same day in Southern California killed three people and destroyed 1,500 structures, including the homes of celebrities in tony Malibu.

Those two fires produced emissions equivalent to roughly 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, Zinke said.

The 2018 emissions figure for California wildfires is "strikingly high, significant in the context of overall statewide emissions, and likely a record value for single-year direct carbon emissions from wildfires in California history," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.