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.
Smoke from the historic wildfires ravaging the U.S. West was observed over the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe this week, and it will return to the continent this weekend, per European scientists' research.
Why it matters: "The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke" some 5,000 miles away "reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration," said Mark Parrington, senior scientist at the European Commission's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which studied the data, in a statement.
The air quality in Portland has become the worst in the world — with Seattle, Los Angeles and Denver also ranking up there with notoriously polluted places like Delhi and Shanghai.
Why it matters: Big-city residents often consider themselves smugly immune to the physical wreckage of calamities like wildfires, floods and hurricanes. The pernicious smoke now blanketing the splendid cities of our nation's Western spine is a reminder that no one is exempt from climate change.