11:29 GMT25 September 2020
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    Tina Landis, organizer and author of the new book “Climate Solutions: Beyond Capitalism,” joined Radio Sputnik Friday to discuss the devastating wildfires consuming much of the US West Coast and the inextricable links between capitalism and the climate crisis.

    “So just overnight, one of the fires, the August Complex Fire that is north of the San Francisco Bay Area in Mendocino County, nearly doubled in size, and it's now over 700,000 acres. The biggest fire in California history was 459,000 acres. That gives you some perspective on how huge these fires are and how fast they can grow,” Landis told By Any Means Necessary hosts Sean Blackmon and Jacquie Luqman.

    “It’s really taking a toll. We’re at, I believe today is day 25 of bad, smoky air that people have been living through - and some of us are fortunate enough to have air purifiers in our houses and not have to go outside to work. But like the super exploited immigrant farm workers are being forced to go out into the fields during this, and they don’t really have a choice, because they need those wages to survive,” Landis added.

    In recent weeks, there have been at least 102 major fires burning across 12 western states in the country including California, Oregon and Washington. At least 19 people in California have died because of the blazes. Dozens of others are missing, and thousands of people are being evacuated, including an estimated one-tenth of all Oregon residents. In addition, the fires have greatly impacted air quality, with the infamously polluted Los Angeles experiencing its worst air quality in over 25 years.

    “The government’s doing very little as far as talking about taking any real action to mitigate climate change. These fires are getting worse and worse every year. This is by far the worst we’ve ever seen, but the last decade, they’ve been growing in frequency and size and severity, and we’re constantly in a drought,” Landis explained.

    “Nothing significant has come from the government. There's evacuation centers … but those are risky with COVID. They’re saying they’re socially distancing people in these centers, but there’s not really enforcement of people wearing masks … The working class and poor, a lot of them are sleeping in their cars, because they feel that’s safer than the shelters,” she added.

    The wildfire crisis in the western part of the US has illuminated the class divide in the country, she said.

    “It really is highlighting the class divide, which will play out with climate change. The rich will be able to move around and find a safe place and rebuild their house when it burns down and things like that, and the working class won’t be able to. There’s still people from the 2017 fires that were up north in Napa County that are still living in tents,” Landis noted.

    “I want to point out how Cuba deals with hurricanes. I mean, they get hit often but not that much differently than the Gulf Coast in the southeast of the US. And they have intricate evacuation plans every citizen knows about, and they go through drills, and they all plan ahead of time how to get people out of harm’s way and how to rebuild houses when they’re destroyed. And they take care of people, and there’s rarely deaths from hurricanes in Cuba, despite the fact that they get hit by major, major storms. And that’s because of the socialist government that actually plans ahead of time and prepares people. And that’s what we need here in the US,” Landis added.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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