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Wildfires and Climate Change Essay

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Ever since the mid-1980’s, wildfires have been becoming an ever-increasing threat. Many have linked the increase to climate change and warming temperatures. For example, in late summer-fall of 2018, the Mendocino Complex Fire, which was actually two very close fires, broke numerous records in California. One of the fires, the Ranch Fire, burned a record 410,203 acres. A study by NCBI shows that the amounts of annual large forest fires have increased during the last two decades. According to the study, during the 1990’s, there were two years with more than 50 large fires. However, during the 2000’s, eight years saw more than 50 large fires, four times more often than the previous decade. Many people have been affected. In 2017, Lorrie and Jake Colburn built a home in Ventura County in California. But then, the 2017 fires came along, and while the Colburns were able to evacuate, their house was leveled. “My husband has put his heart and soul into building it and making it what we wanted,” says Lorrie. “It looks like a war zone. It just looks like a bomb went off. Trees are all gone. And the house and the shop are total rubble. Firefighters are also having trouble. The’ve been working hard fighting these large blazes. It’s been hard because wildfires can affect both wilderness and homes. Communities have to rely on both wildland and structure firemen. We all understand that wildfires are a growing threat. Butt why are they so dangerous? How do they form?

There are many ways a wildfire can start and spread. But the main reason is the presence of what is called “The Fire Triangle”, which consists of three things a fire needs; a heat source, fuel, and oxygen. Heat sources are the start of the fire. Most fire heat sources are man-made, such as campfires, cigarettes, and most accidental causes. However, lighting can also ignite a fire. Fuel is the flammable material near the fire, such as dead plants, trees, grass, brush, and sometimes homes. Oxygen is needed for fires.

If all of these requirements are met, then a fire can form. Often a small man-made source such as a spark or power equipment is enough to start a fire. For example, the devastating Carr Fire, which burned through Northern California through late July 2018 , was started when a tire blew out and created sparks near some fire fuel, a sufficient heat source, according to officials. The destructive Thomas Fire, which occurred only a few months after the Carr Fire, was at least a partly started due to power equipment owned by Southern California Edison. Now that we know how these monster fires form, how exactly is climate change contributing to the increase in wildfire activity?

Due to climate change environments are becoming drier and temperatures are rising. In 2018, California had its hottest month on record during July. In addition, at the same time, vegetation and forest were at record dryness levels.

Because of this, more wildfires are occurring with increased length and intensity. This is likely because the dry vegetation creates fuel for fires. As stated before, there as been an increase in years with multiple large fires since 2000. Recently, California has been breaking numerous wildfires records, For one, the Mendocino Complex Fire, which occurred during late summer-fall 2018, was the largest fire in CA history, surpassing the Thomas Fire which occurred the same year, as stated before. We know wildfires can be dangerous. But what has been done to combat this problem?

One of these solutions is known as “controlled burning”. While it is only meant to slow wildfires, it does have a few benefits in the long term.

In the Southeastern U.S., controlled burning was first created and practiced by native Indians. This was soon adopted by early European settlers. At first, controlled burning was used to produce more food for free-range cows and to maintain hunting habitats. But lately, it has also been used to stop wildfires.

Controlled burning involves setting fires deliberately. Before, it was done to preserve fire-dependent ecosystems such as forests and to make way for foraging, but it also can be used to stop wildfires beforehand by clearing potential fire fuel sources before the actual fire arrives.

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Though it is a good and innovative way to stop a fire in its tracks, it doesn’t take into account the climate change problem as a whole. However, it is likely more effective than spraying water at the fire.

Though controlled burning may seem to only directly stop fires, it actually helps mitigate the problem in a way. Wildfires can produce large amounts of smoke which can contribute to climate change and global warming. It can also spread as fast if, not faster as the fire itself. Thus, stopping fires in a way not only reduces fire impact but also reduces climate change and its effects. But are there other, more effective solutions. More innovative solutions?

Though the main focus is wildfires, finding ways to mitigate and solve climate change and global warming in general could also be beneficial, as not only could it solve the wildfire issue, but many other climate change-related problems.

One of the most well-known climate change prevention programs is the PAris Agreement. Entered into force on November 4, 2016, it aims to keep the global rise in temperature below 2℃ above levels before the industrial age.

The Paris Agreement unites many countries to make effect to pursue efforts to combat climate change. It requires all parties to do their absolute best and strength those efforts. Every half decade, leaders across the world meet and hold a stocktake to assess their progress toward their goals.

Keeping in mind that the Paris Agreement is a form of encouragement of unity against climate change and not an direct solution or form of action, many have questioned its effectiveness. In its infancy, its requirements were too loose. However, the upcoming first global stocktake could boost efforts. In addition, some believe the Paris Agreement will cause more investment on clean energy and more more pressure to tackle emissions. However, the possibility of the U.S. leaving has created fear that the Paris Agreement could be negatively affected.

Overall, though the Paris Agreement may not be the perfect solution, taking an approach of dealing with the bigger problem may be a more wise and effective path towards stopping wildfires and climate change’s other effects as a whole, whether by the Paris deal of other climate agreements.

Many scientists agree that climate change itself should be mitigated rather than only a few of its effects. If we successfully do this, not only will we decrease the wildfire threat but we can deal with many other problems, too. Other climate change effects such as drought, increases in tropical storm activity, sea level rise, and longer heat waves could be dealt with. Specifically, the Paris Agreement ais to keep the global temperature rise below 2℃. Though that may seem insignificant, it can still bring a positive change. Besides the other effects, mitigating climate change can also impact the increasing number of wildfires. In fact some fires contribute to climate change. A study by NASA shows that forest fires can heat up the planet. Another study (not by NASA) shows that the amounts of large wildfires have increased over the last decade as stated before. This change has been linked changes in the timing of spring as well as climate change. Because of the many other effects of climate change, it is clear that we need to shift our focus from just the impacts of climate change on wildfires to climate change as a whole.

Dealing with climate change as a whole will have many more benefits than dealing with only only one of climate change’s many effects, including wildfires. If we only try to fight and take action on wildfires, then not only will they just keep coming, but the other consequences of climate change such as sea level rise and drought will rage untamed. Not only wildfires, but increases in droughts, tropical storms, and sea levels have been linked to climate change. To government officials, you have the power to push to focus more on climate change rather than its individual effects. If not, not only will many families, including children, lose their home in wildfires, but increasing droughts will turn once-lush forests into desolate wastelands, hurricanes will lay waste to several of our beloved towns and cities, and sea level rise will change the shapes of our coastlines forever. While there are many innovative solutions to climate change’s effects, we need to start combating climate change itself. Though we may not be as powerful as those behind these solutions, we can push them to make more solutions for the problem as a whole.

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Wildfires and Climate Change Essay. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from
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