California, Oregon, and Washington live wildfire maps are tracking the devastation in real time

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Location-based data tools reveal the scale of the historic wildfires raging on the West Coast. Historic wildfires continue to burn across the western United States, causing tragic loss of life, mass evacuations, insurmountable damage, and a vast haze of deep orange in the skies. The fires have been raging out of control from Southern California, through Oregon, and up into the northern tip of Washington State, and they include some of the worst wildfires on record. Read Full Story

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Look at the West Coast’s apocalyptic hell sky

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As wildfires rage up and down the western seaboard, people in California and Oregon woke up to an eerie, orange-tinted world. Fires have been burning in California for weeks, and a new heat wave and strong winds over Labor Day weekend sparked several more across the state and in Oregon. With those fires has come intense, thick smoke affecting the region’s air quality (San Francisco has had 23 straight days of warnings about bad air ), but the amount of smoke in the sky on September 9 reached a new level, blocking the sun and creating a disturbing orange-hued world. Read Full Story

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This map shows how air pollution changed in 2020

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The pandemic brought some big improvements—but many cities still had unsafe air. As the world went into lockdown a year ago, air pollution plummeted. But the cleaner air didn’t last. For one, in places like California, Oregon, and Washington, record-breaking wildfires meant that at least temporarily, 77 of the world’s most polluted cities were in the United States. Read Full Story

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‘I worked 246 hours in 15 days’: What it’s like to fight wildfires in 2020

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Doug Thackery, a forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry, shares his harrowing experience fighting the Holiday Farm Fire, during a fire season like no other. The size, speed, and number of wildfires ravaging the western U.S. this season has been unprecedented. A third of Oregon’s 15 largest wildfires since 1900 have taken place this year. In California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, thick smoke has hung in the air for weeks as fires fueled by climate change burned millions of acres and resulted in at least 30 deaths . Read Full Story

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Why a new class of cities threaten Silicon Valley’s supremacy

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As VCs sour on California and New York, an emerging class of tech hubs stand to benefit from divided government: bright blue cities in ruby-red states. If you’re a New York politician and you have nothing else to talk about, you can always bemoan the disparity between what New Yorkers send to Albany and Washington in taxes and what they get back in programs and services. The same is true for most major cities. Los Angeles and San Francisco subsidize the rest of California, and California’s taxes helps subsidize the federal government. Chicago subsidizes downstate Illinois. Boston subsidizes Western Massachusetts. Seattle subsidizes the rest of Washington State. It’s true of any successful city in any blue state. But as unfair as this may be, it’s not what’s putting the future of these cities at risk. Read Full Story

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Can art change the world? Inside the debate raging over Black Lives Matter murals

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Is art a distraction from change or a catalyst? That’s the question at the heart of Black Lives Matter Plaza in D.C.—and across the United States. Keyonna Jones received the call from a fellow artist one Thursday night in early June, and she agreed to the job without knowing what or where she’d be painting. The friend told her it would be a mural somewhere in her hometown of Washington, D.C. Read Full Story

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What does off-the-charts bad air from wildfire smoke do to our long-term health?

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The West Coast is looking at a future where cities are enveloped with smoke every summer. The health effects could be serious. As massive wildfires burn in California and Oregon, the air has been filled with so much smoke that air quality ratings in some places have literally gone off the charts. The EPA’s Air Quality Index, which gives an air quality score based on the level of pollutants such as PM 2.5, the tiny particles produced by burning wood, considers a reading of 200 unhealthy and 300 hazardous, creating emergency conditions. In Bend, Oregon, this weekend, the official AQI value was over 500. In Eugene last week, PurpleAir, a network of backyard sensors, registered readings over 700. Read Full Story

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