by Luca Favis
With 31 people dead and 4 million acres burned — double the amount than the previous annual record — California wildfires have easily reached devastating milestones in a short period of time so far this year. Panic has not only reached state citizens, but the media as well, in anxiety about drastic climate change effects wreaking havoc upon our earth.
While it is widely known that a gender reveal party was said to be the cause of the El Dorado fire in California, experts say that climate change is the main factor in its driving severity.
Governor Gavin Newsom of California has spoken up on the rising question of climate change and wildfires ties. In both agreement and as a warning, he has stated that “California is America in fast forward,” he said on Friday, as reported in the New York Times. “What we’re experiencing right now is coming to communities all across the country.”
According to the Bay Area Air District, the concerning orange-tinted sky was the fire’s ash and smoke spread widely due to strong wind. This not only poses a threat to our forests, but to humans as well, as the resulting low air quality is breaking upon the question of whether or not it’s safe to step outside.
Although it is recommended that it’s safer to stay indoors in areas where air quality is especially low, many Californians lack the privilege to work from home to pay the bills. Prolonged exposure to poor air quality is harmful.
Taking into account the aforementioned factors of climate change, let’s take a look at the impact this has on not only California, but communities all along the West Coast.
At least four people have been killed and 40,000 evacuated, with 500,000 citizens put under an evacuation warning as of mid-September. Thankfully, the Oregon Convention Center has become a safe place for up to 400 evacuees, according to the Oregonian.
But where do all the other hundreds of thousands evacuees seek safety? Matters are only getting worse. In Oregon alone, state officials have said they are preparing for an increase of casualties as the wildfires intensify.
Governor Kate Brown described the wildfires during just a single week as a “once-in-a-generation-event”, emphasizing its deadly potential. Small towns are being torn through with flames and cities seeing the worst air pollution in the country right now are Portland, Ore., Seattle, and San Francisco.
So what has been done? Not enough, nor done fast enough. Seeing as the root cause of wildfire severity is global warming, state and local governments must learn to cut back on non-renewable fossil fuels/CO2 emissions — the primary factors of climate change — and implement greener alternatives. With sustainable methods and a healthier earth, less worry is put on both our planet and our people.