California wildfires and climate change

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Climate change has led to extremely dry conditions in many areas and that has led to numerous, large wildfires. (Photo/Ross Stone on Unsplash)

The summer of 2021 has seen a cascade of deadly, extreme weather and climate-related disasters like wildfires, hurricanes and tropical storms.  From Greece to Russia to California, scorching wildfires are destroying land, homes, wildlife and livelihoods and releasing “millions of tons of carbon dioxide [emissions] into the atmosphere,” according to MIT Technology Review, which accelerate climate change.

Changes in climate are creating long periods of drought, high temperatures, longer fire seasons, changes in atmospheric circulation and dry conditions. These conditions increase the risk of wildfires. Once a wildfire comes to life, the high temperatures and dry land make it very easy for the wildfire to spread.

The 7,064 fires so far this year in the Golden State, as stated by Cal Fire – is record-breaking. According to the LATimes, “Officials said there were more than twice as many acres burned in the first six months of this year than during the same period last year.” Wildfire Dixie in July 2021 is currently holding the second-place spot for the largest wildfire with 917,579 acres burned as of Sept. 7, 2021, after the Wildfire August Complex in Aug. 2020 with 1,032,648 acres burned.

“It’s widely agreed that anthropogenic (environmental change due to human activity) climate change is the cause of increased temperatures, on average and more extreme heat waves,”  Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension, told ScientificAmerican.

Human activity plays a large role as a cause of global warming due to humans releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, deforestation and increasing livestock farming. The European Union website stated that Earth is getting warmer each decade. Human-induced global warming is presently increasing at a rate of 0.2°C every ten years.

A warmer Earth will be dangerous – warmer seas allow tropical storms to pick up energy faster which would increase the storm’s destructiveness on land. Additionally, mountain glaciers would melt, driving many species to extinction, and natural disasters would worsen. More issues climate change would cause, as listed by the Natural Resources Defense Center, include exacerbating air pollution, making oceans more acidic and increasing sea levels.

According to NYTimes, “‘There’s no going back from some changes in the climate system,’ Ko Barrett, a vice-chair of the panel and a senior adviser for climate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. But, she added, immediate and sustained emissions cuts ‘could really make a difference in the climate future we have ahead of us.’” 

Zoe Horwitz, an incoming freshman at American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida, is starting her first year as a writer for the Patriot Post. Besides reading and writing, Zoe spends her time tutoring younger students, playing with her dog, or watching “Legally Blonde.” She also enjoys playing lacrosse, as she plays for a club team and will be trying out for the American Heritage team later in the year. Zoe is very excited to be contributing to the Patriot Post.

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