Climate Change and the California Wildfires

Global warming is a pressing issue facing the world right now. It affects us in ways most people do not even realize. For example, it is a major contributor to the increase of wildfires particularly in California. In 2020 alone, 4,193,364 acres of land has burned in California. Within that area there were 31 fatalities, 10,488 buildings and structures damaged or lost completely, and 9,069 incidents in total. As bad as this is, it is only going to get worse if nothing is done about the increasing climate. 

The first fire of this year was on February 15th, 2020. This one only burnt 15 acres, which is nothing compared to the amount of acres the future fires would burn and destroy. The largest fire so far this year was the SCU Lightning Complex.  It started on August 18th, 2020 and burned up to 396,624 acres. SCU Lightning Complex was active for 44 days until it was finally contained and put out on October 1st, 2020. Five counties were affected during this fire, including Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, San Joaquin County, and Merced and Stanislaus County. As a result of this wildfire, 22 buildings were damaged, 222 were destroyed, and six people were injured.

There are currently 21 wildfires still active in California, some starting as early as July 31st, 2020. It is unclear now how much longer they will be active and how many acres will be burned. Eight of the 20 largest wildfires that have occurred in California’s history occurred within the last three years. Temperatures have been warmer than they usually are, so when a drought came it resulted in conditions perfect for fires to ignite whether it be human caused, lightning caused, or another way. With low precipitation, there was nothing to aid in preventing fires from starting in the dry, hot areas that are all over California. The warmer temperatures are a product of the rising global temperatures. 

Wildfires are something that have always happened naturally and unnaturally. There are techniques where farmers will burn parts of their land and it is actually beneficial to the farming. The problem occurs when there are high temperatures and dry soil, factors affected by global warming, and the local vegetation lack water. 

At the rate we are going things are only going to get worse. Action needs to be taken in order to prevent these tragedies from occurring. These fires are going to keep happening until something is done or until everything is destroyed. Eventually, we are going to reach a point where the damage cannot be undone or fixed.

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