The historic wildfires raging across the West Coast are pumping record amounts of pollution into the air — with swaths of smoke spreading at least 5,000 miles to Europe, data shows.
The dense smoke coverage — already blamed for this week’s hazy skies over New York — reached Britain and other parts of northern Europe last week and is forecast to head back in the coming days after a brief respite, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).
Data shows that the West Coast fires have been “tens to hundreds of times more intense” than the nationwide average in the 18 years the agency has monitored blazes, it said.
They have “already emitted far more carbon in 2020 than in any other year” since the records began, CAMS said — even though it is just the start of peak wildfire season.
“The scale and magnitude of these fires are at a level much higher than in any of the 18 years that our monitoring data covers,” CAMS Senior Scientist Mark Parrington said.
“The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke over [5,000 miles] away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration.”
The European agency uses aerosol optical depth (AOD) to measure how much sunlight is blocked, Parrington said.
“Over the western US, AOD levels have been observed to reach values of seven or above,” he said. “To put this into perspective, an AOD measurement of one already implies very hazy conditions and potentially poor air quality.”
Swiss air quality monitoring group IQAir said the four major West Coast cities battling blazes — Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco — are now all in the top 10 worst in the world for pollution and air quality.
California has suffered eight of the 10 largest fires in the state’s history all in the past decade — with 2020 seeing the worst, the Los Angeles Times noted.
The paper noted that the fire season usually peaks in the fall, meaning the record-breaking year may yet get worse.
“I’ve been at this 23 years, and by far this is the worst I’ve seen,” said Justin Silvera, a 43-year-old battalion chief with Cal Fire whose men sometimes work 64 hours at a stretch.
“There’s never enough resources,” said Silvera, one of nearly 17,000 firefighters in California. “We can’t contain one before another erupts.”
Andy Stahl, a forester who runs the Oregon-based advocacy group Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, compared efforts trying to stop some of the most destructive blazes to “dropping a bucket of water on an atomic bomb.”
The fires rage on even after California alone has spent $529 million since July 1 on the wildfires, Cal Fire officials said.
“More crews, more air tankers, more engines and dozers still can’t overcome this powerful force of nature,” said Tim Ingalsbee, a member of the advocacy group Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology.
“The crews are beat up and fatigued and spread thin, and we’re barely halfway through the traditional fire season.”
With Post wires
AOC warns Dems ‘there’s no going back to brunch’ even if Biden wins
US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is warning Democrats they need to brace for the worst thing imaginable even if Joe Biden is elected — brunchless weekends!
“After we work to command victory in November, I need folks to realize that there’s no going back to brunch,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an Instagram video marking the death of liberal US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday — and referring to the need for Democratic Party stalwarts not to get complacent over any potential White House win.
“We have a whole new world to build. We cannot accept going back to the way things were, and that includes the Dem Party,’’ AOC said.
“Voting for Joe Biden, it’s not about whether you like him or not, it’s a vote to let democracy live another day,” said the socialist Bronx congresswoman, who has been famously tepid in her backing of Biden.
“No president is the answer. You are the answer. Mass movements are the answer,’’ the pol said.
GOP Sen. Murkowski opposes SCOTUS nominee vote before election
Sen. Lisa Murkowski said on Sunday that she opposes having the Senate vote on President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Supreme Court before the election — the second Republican senator to object to filling the seat before Nov. 3.
“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” the Alaska senator said in a statement.
“I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply,” the statement continued.
On Saturday, Sen. Susan Collins, who is running for re-election in Maine, said she would be against pushing through the nomination in the 44 days before the November election.
“In order for the American people to have in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently – no matter which political party is in power,” Collins said in a statement posted on Twitter, saying she has no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee reviewing the nominee’s credentials.
“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election. In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected in November 3,” Collins said.
Trump made his feelings about Murkowski’s decision earlier Sunday when news reports said that she would be against taking up the nomination.
He remarked “No thanks!” to a tweet from the Alaska Chamber announcing that Murkowski would take part in a town hall on Sept. 22.
Murkowski and Collins objecting to a vote on the nomination before the election jeopardizes the majority that the Republicans would need to approve a nominee, lowering the 53-47 advantage they have to 51.
It would take four GOP senators to oppose the nominee to get beyond Vice President Mike Pence’s potential tie-breaking vote.
Other GOP senators, like Mitt Romney, who bucked Republicans in February and voted to impeach Trump over his dealings with the Ukraine president, and Cory Gardener, who’s in a knock-down, drag-out election fight in Colorado, could also defect but have so far been quiet about their intentions.
Murkowski and Collins were referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell holding up former President Barack Obama’s nominating Merrick Garland in 2016 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
McConnell said the nomination should not go through in an election year.
With Post wires
NYC subway station sign altered in Ruth Bader Ginsburg tribute
It’s the “supreme” tribute for a New York-born icon.
A tile sign for Manhattan’s 50th Street station on the C/E line was doctored to read “Ruth St.” in memory of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday at 87 from complications of pancreatic cancer.
Twitter account Plannedalism blasted out a video of the handiwork late Saturday — in which the “50” was altered into an “RU” — though it wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the guerrilla memorial, or if it remained intact Sunday.
In the clip, a straphanger is seen using her phone to take a photo of the subterranean tribute to a lion of the highest court in the land.
There’s precedent for the memorial.
Soul great Aretha Franklin was similarly honored after her 2018 passing — with fans altering signs at the Franklin Street 1-train station in Manhattan, and the Franklin Avenue A/C station in Brooklyn — while fellow music legend Prince was memorialized at Manhattan’s Prince Street R/W station in 2016.
The MTA liked the impromptu Franklin tribute so much that they made it official, adding stickers at the station reading “Respect.”
Brooklyn born and raised, Ginsburg had served on the Supreme Court since 1993 and was remembered as a champion of equal rights.
Hundreds of mourners assembled outside a Lower Manhattan courthouse late Saturday to pay their respects to the jurist.
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