The White House enlisted Western fire chiefs in its campaign to fight the effects of climate change Monday, arguing that changing weather patterns will result in more intense and frequent wildfires, reports USA Today.
Of particular concern: Fires at the edge of the suburbs in what’s known as the Wildland-Urban Interface, which is now home to 60% of new homes built over the last quarter century. The Obama administration released two reports Monday studying how those building patterns have created new challenges to fighting wildfires.
“I can’t prove any one fire is a consequence of climate change. But you don’t have to be a climatologist, you don’t have to be a nuclear engineer to understand that things have changed, they’ve changed rapidly,” Vice President Biden told a gathering of fire chiefs at the White House Monday. “The bottom line is your job is getting a hell of a lot more dangerous.”
Biden asked the chiefs to pressure elected officials to take action. “Nobody is more respected in your community. You are more respected than your elected officials. You are more respected than most mayors or councilmen or governors or senators, which I was for a long, long time,” he said.
Thirty-seven fire chiefs and professional fire associations have signed on to a White House effort to encourage wildfire mitigation practices by property owners and local governments across the country, the White House said.
Biden said the administration is also proposing a rule change to allow federal disaster relief to be used for fires in addition to floods and hurricanes.
“We can all argue a whole hell of a lot about whether there is climate change. I don’t think there is much of an argument. The only people I know who deny climate change are the same people who deny gravity.”
But while he took jabs at Republicans, Biden also acknowledged that many of the fire chiefs in the audience were likely to be Republicans themselves.
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