The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is meant to be, in Southern California, the start of rainy season. Not this year. The Thomas Fire, the worst of those roiling the region this last week, grew 50,000 acres on Sunday alone; it has now burnt 270 square miles and forced 200,000 people from their homes. There is no rain forecast for the next seven to ten days, and as of Monday morning, Thomas is just, in the terrifying semi-clinical language of wildfires, “10% contained.” To a poetic approximation, it’s not a bad estimate of how much of a handle we have on the forces of climate change that unleashed it — which is to say, hardly any.
We could use further updating: Five of the 20 worst fires in California history have now hit since just September, when 245,000 acres in Northern California burned