California Fires Wreak Havoc on the Environment

Written by Logan Johnson, Lainey Lynch, and Gretchen Nagle

Scientists have been warning the public for years about the possible devastation of global warming and climate change, and in recent years this fear is becoming more of a reality. The California fires of 2020 started on September 8th and have proceeded into October. The environment has been taking a turn for the worse because of human activities. Not only do humans pollute the Earth, contributing to climate change, but the fires in California were accidentally started by humans during a gender reveal party with a smoke generating device.  In the past, fire season would not have lasted as long, but recently the seasons have been drastically prolonged.

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Fire Management Specialist Kim Ernstrom explains why fire seasons are longer and fires are larger. “I think three things: climate change, the impact of humans, and the amount of dry materials in the forests.”

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Wildfires as impactful as the ones in California can also contribute to a great deal of pollution in the Earth’s atmosphere. Although it is often on more of a short-term scale, wildfires can make the air quality much worse. Even in Boise, Idaho, which is a twelve hour drive away from where the fires took place, the air quality worsened and the residents could see smoke.

California’s fires this year were so large, they had to call in firefighters from neighboring states and Mexico, as well as the military. Not only was putting out the fires difficult because of the size, but also due to the fact that they were dealing with so many fires at one time. This is attributed to a lot of lightning in late July and dry climate. California Governor Gavin Newsom states, “The debate is over around climate change. Just come to the state of California. Observe it with your own eyes. ” Wildfires in California have killed up to twenty-five residents since August.

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One way to prevent wildfires is education. People need to know how to properly extinguish campfires at campsites. Another fire management strategy is fuel treatments. Fuel treatments are smaller, prescribed fires that eliminate dry brush that could increase fire intensity. In a 45-Day Report to Governor Gavin Newsom, The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection of California stated, “Systematically identifying high priority fuels reduction projects and other measures will immediately begin to protect over 200 of California’s most wildfire vulnerable communities, and put the state on a path toward long term wildfire prevention and forest health.” Fall and spring are better times to engage in these precautions, as it is not during the regular wildfire season. Some ecosystems even rely on smaller fires to help their vegetation grow. 

Informing the public about wildfires and taking prevention precautions can help save not only people, but the overall environment. It’s crucial that information regarding wildfires is spread in order to bring about awareness and change.