California Wildfires Spark Climate Concerns

wildfire-568617By: Sathiyan Sivakumaran

As if California didn’t already have enough to worry about with the lack of water, two wildfires have recently created a new source of panic. One fire, called the Butte fire southeast of Sacramento, has destroyed over 65,000 acres. The other near Napa Valley has also raged on, with the total acres destroyed by the two fires surpassing 100,000. As people in the affected areas gather their possessions and abandon their homes, the fires raise more questions about the state of California and its susceptibility to natural disasters.

The drought in California has recently become the worst drought in the history of the state. With such a significant lack of precipitation, wildfires are much more likely to occur as the leaves and trees become like kindling waiting to be lit. Governor Jerry Brown has been forced to declare a state of emergency due to the magnitude of these fires, and climate change has become more of a focus. Droughts like this one and higher temperatures are becoming more probable with global warming. The argument has finally moved from whether global warming is occurring and transitioned to what we can do to taper it to also prevent the frequency of natural disasters like these from increasing.

The other problem coming with such a severe drought is the aftereffects. For example, this year is predicted to be a very strong El Niño year. Some people may celebrate the potential for more rain for California to make up for this strong drought. However, the potential for heavy downpours could lead to an increased risk of mudslides and landslides. Here is yet another natural disaster concern for California without even mentioning the constant threat of earthquakes, which experts have suggested should be a worry particularly for those in the San Francisco Bay Area.

With the recent fires, climate change has moved forward in the discussion of California’s future. This has been a factor in California’s target emissions being lower and clean energy use being higher than the much of the rest of the United States. California has even become a model for the U.S. to follow, albeit more slowly. The wildfires’ havoc that’s been created is something that the state wants to avoid in the future, and decreasing the probability of such events has become more and more likely through improving the world’s climate change issue. California needs America to listen to protect the health of California, as well as the health of the world.