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Gov. Jay Inslee in Olympia, Washington. Photo: Axios

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) described the deadly wildfires sweeping the West Coast as "cataclysmic" for Washington state at an Axios virtual event on Thursday and said that climate change has made the problem worse.

What he's saying: "What we're experiencing in Washington is profound changes particularly in our grassland and our sage brush. It's incredibly dry, very hot, and as a result we have explosive conditions in the state of Washington," he said.

  • "These fires are incredibly cataclysmic. and the solution to this, ultimately, of course, we need to thin some of our forest, but we need to reduce this climate change, which is the ultimately cataclysmic situation we face in Washington."

What's happening: Seattle and Portland currently have some of the worst air quality in the world as mega-fires, which Inslee called "climate fires," have destroyed millions of acres across California and Oregon, and more than 800,000 acres destroyed in Washington state.

Go deeper: Wildfires are result of climate change and forest mismanagement, Oregon governor says

Watch the event here.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Aug 31, 2020 - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

How climate change feeds off itself and gets even worse

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Climate change is like a snowball effect, except, well, hot.

Why it matters: Like a snowball begins small and grows larger by building upon itself, numerous feedback loops embedded in our atmosphere and society are exacerbating climate change.

Biden to pick former EPA head Gina McCarthy as climate czar

Gina McCarthy. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

President-elect Joe Biden will tap Gina McCarthy, who led the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Obama, as White House climate czar, according to a person familiar with the news and multiple reports.

Driving the news: McCarthy will manage domestic climate policy alongside her deputy, Ali Zaidi, New York's current deputy secretary for energy and environment, as first reported by the Washington Post.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.