By Taylor Kutzuba
The climate of the Earth has a substantial influence on the weather around us. With an increase in global temperature, there has been an increase of recorded natural disasters.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the average global temperature has risen 1.8 degree Fahrenheit. This change in temperature can cause the melting of polar ice, severe droughts, and a rise in sea level. With an increase in droughts, there could be a greater chance of wildfires. A rise in sea level can cause erosion of coasts and affect people living in coastal areas. Rising ocean temperatures can lead to an increase in strong tropical storms.
One of the major natural disasters affecting the world right now is wildfires. The severity of these wildfires can be affected by the surrounding climate. According to figure 1, in 2018 the Western United States was affected by drought the worst. Not surprisingly, these are the places in the United States that have the most wildfires that cause severe damage. A few risks that affect the severity and occurrence of wildfires are temperature, soil moisture, and the presence of trees, shrubs, and other potential fuel.
A surge in temperature can increase the dryness of the vegetation, which can make it easier for a fire to catch and spread. Drought
is another leading cause of wildfires. With little to no rain, the vegetation is likely to dry out quicker, which makes it easier to catch on fire. Two of the most common places in the world for wildfires are the western United States and Australia. In recent years, these places have been dealing with the most intense wildfires recorded in decades. According to figure 2, on average, there are more wildfires, more acres burned, and longer, more intense fire seasons every year. With the exception of a few years, the number of fires each year is steadily increasing. The increase of fires each year results in more wildlife damage. When fires sweep across acres of land, they destroy the home and food of numerous animals. Not only do animals have to worry about their habitat being damaged, but also being killed by the fire directly. Many animals are not fast enough to escape to the raging flames and will be killed before getting to safety; these species may become extirpated (no longer existing in a specific region). Over time, this can negatively affect ecosystems and the humans that depend on them. Climate change is one cause of stronger and more frequent wildfires in the world. As a population, we should be focused on slowing down climate change to save hundreds of acres of land, animals, and the lives of humans.
Heyck-Williams, Shannon. Climate Change, Natural Disasters, and Wildlife. Nov. 2019, www.nwf.org/-/media/Documents/PDFs/Environmental-Threats/Climate-Change-Natural-Disasters-fact-sheet.ashx.
“Infographic: Wildfires and Climate Change.” Union of Concerned Scientists, 8 Sept. 2020, www.ucsusa.org/resources/infographic-wildfires-and-climate-change#:~:text=But%20global%20warming%20has%20changed,plants%2C%20which%20act%20as%20kindling.
“Wildfires and Climate Change.” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 9 Feb. 2021, www.c2es.org/content/wildfires-and-climate-change/.