Climate Change and the California Wildfires
Wildfires have always been natural phenomena in the western United States. However, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the length of the fire season is growing longer each year primarily due to the changing climate. Since the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s temperature has increased, on average 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature in California, though, has increased by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit, and it will only get worse. Los Angeles County recorded its record temperature of 121 degrees Fahrenheit this season, and Death Valley recorded one of 130 degrees. If the temperature in Death Valley is confirmed, it will be the highest reliably reported temperature on the planet. The hot and dry California air sucks up the moisture from vegetation on the ground. The dry vegetation serves as the fuel, making fires more likely to start and then harder to contain. California’s fire record goes all the way back to 1932, but the ten worst fires have all occurred since 2000. On October 2, 2020, in the state of California, 3,754,729 acres have already been burned. That does not even count the acres burned from fires in states like Nevada, Arizona, and Oregon.
Fire not only has a devastating impact on forests and all the life that those environments support, but there are also exceptional human losses. In the 2020 fire season, there have been 26 deaths and 4,331 buildings damaged or destroyed.
Borunda, A. (2020, September 18). The science connecting wildfires to climate change. Retrieved October 03, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/09/climate-change-increases-risk-fires-western-us/
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). (n.d.). Incidents Overview. Retrieved October 03, 2020, from https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/