The New York TimesThe New York Times

How climate change turned lush Hawaii into a tinderbox

By Christopher Flavelle and Manuela Andreoni

10 Aug 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. Hawaii, a state known for its lush vegetation, has been experiencing deadly wildfires due to a long-term decline in average annual rainfall and rising temperatures. Since 1990, rainfall has been 31% lower in the wet season and 6% lower in the dry season.

The fires in Hawaii would be shocking anywhere — killing at least 36 people, in one of the deadliest wildfires in the United States in modern history. But the devastation is especially striking because of where it happened: In a state defined by its lush vegetation, a far cry from the dry landscape normally associated with fire threats.

The explanation is as straightforward as it is sobering: As the planet heats up, no place is protected from disasters.

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