Are Recent Wildfires Related to Climate Change?

Wildfire (c) John McColgan (CC0 1.0)

As the climate warms, moisture and precipitation levels are changing, with increasing water vapor in wet areas and increasing droughts in dry areas.

Some scientists link the recent wildfire problem that has started up again in California to the influence of global warming. This wildfire has taken the lives of 71 people and has eaten up more than 930 square kilometers of land, which includes the entirety of the city of Paradise.

Created by Julie Ibrahimova using the data from U.S. Climate Data (c) CC0 1.0

According to weather statistics, the last time the city of Paradise had a significant amount of rain was in the month of April, which means that they have gone through 7 months without any sort of precipitation. Such long periods of drought cause most vegetation to dry out, creating large amounts of fuel for a potential fire.

This drought pattern has become common in many parts of the world. Affecting even our home, British Columbia, where we have had two awful wildfire seasons in a row. If we look at the precipitation data for Vancouver and upper B.C. before the wildfire we had two summers ago. We can see that we had a very rainy season during the April-June months, making many plants and vegetation grow. Very similar to the weather statistics of Paradise, we had almost no rain in the months of July and August, which caused all of the vegetation that had grown previously, to dry up and create fuel for fires.

Now that we know that climate change is indeed influencing wildfires, what can we do to avoid them? Since we can’t change the weather, we would have to remove the fuel. Fire and forestation experts say that in order to do this without harming all of our plants, we would have to create a “fire break“. This is a forestry and fire management method that allows us to create gaps in forests to slow down or stop the progression of a wildfire. Furthermore, if you live in a fire-prone area you and your family should have a wildfire action plan to ensure your safety before a risk.

Overall, I think that humanity isn’t going to stop creating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases anytime soon in the awaiting future, but we can start reducing their affects on Earth. Something simple that you all can do is reduce, reuse and of course recycle. After all, a recycled bottle a day keeps the wildfires away!  Hopefully, that lessens globally spreading wildfires rates and no such fires affect us again at home here in British Columbia.

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