Climate Crisis: Wildfire Threatens Los Alamos Nuclear Facilities

Firefighters continue to battle a wildfire that threatens the nuclear-weapons facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in north-central New Mexico. “Both the town of Los Alamos, home to about 12,000 residents, and the laboratory, with a work force of about 12,000, were evacuated on Monday,” MSNBC reports. The uncontrolled Las Conchas Fire, now burning 70,000 acres, is part of a global-warming-fueled series of conflagrations throughout the Southwest. The record wildfire season is a product of the region’s record drought, in which precipitation is more than 75 percent below normal:

All of New Mexico is in drought conditions, southern New Mexico in exceptional drought. U.S. Drought Monitor.

180-day precipitation in New Mexico is greater than 75 percent below normal. National Weather Service.

Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are aflame:

— The 538,000-acre Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, started May 29, now 70 percent contained.

— The 223,000-acre Horseshoe Two Fire in the Chiricahua mountains in southeastern Arizona, started May 8, now 100 percent contained.

— The 30,000-acre Monument Fire near Sierra Vista in southeastern Arizona, started June 12, now 64 percent contained.

— The 15,000-acre Donaldson Fire (named after Sam Donaldson’s ranch), in Alamo Canyon in New Mexico, started June 28.

— Texas firefighters are tackling five fires that have burned 32,981 acres. Since fire season started on Nov. 15, 2010, Texas Forest Service and area fire departments have responded to 12,985 fires that have burned 3,268,011 acres, a greater area than the state of Connecticut.

In Senate testimony, U.S. Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell explained that scientists have found that climate change is making the region hotter and drier, leading to larger and more intense fires. This season of fire in the Southwest is one of the many terrible consequences of the billions of tons of greenhouse pollution industrial activity has added to the atmosphere. Only a full mobilization of our nation’s resources will give ourselves a chance to preserve the American dream in the coming years.

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