California wildfires sweep the country

California+wildfires+sweep+the+country

Graphic by Alex Iannone

Alyssa Endres, Contributing Writer

Over the course of the last two weeks, wildfires have been blazing across the states of California and Oregon. While wildfires are an annual September occurrence, this year’s fires have set a new record for the destruction they have caused.

Millions of acres of land have been destroyed in both California and Oregon since the fires have started at the beginning of this month. Reporters and firefighters claim that this is the most damage that has been seen in the last 18 years. The smoke has spread from the West Coast to the East Coast, leaving 25 casualties in its wake.

The outbreak of the fires has been attributed to a mixture of extreme temperatures, unusually dry air, and strong wind. Many also believe that global warming has contributed to the severity of these massive wildfires. Instead of blaming the fires on climate change, however, U.S. President Donald Trump has credited poor forest management as the cause of the ever-growing blazes. Trump tweeted, “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

The environmental impact of this disaster has become more serious than ever before. If forest fires continue to grow as we have seen over the years, large quantities of both California and Oregon may be permanently damaged. Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) senior scientist Mark Parrington has stated that “the fact the fires are emitting so much pollution that can be detected thousands of miles away reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration.” The fires are affecting our air quality, adding to the carbon dioxide that already persists within our ozone layers.

A new wildfire, titled the Bobcat Fire, is threatening over 1,000 homes as it advances closer to the Mojave Desert. The fire is reportedly over 100,000 acres in size, making it larger than the city of Denver. With the fire being only about 15% contained, officials worry about the potential devastation that can develop. 

If carbon dioxide emissions and temperatures keep rising, fires like this will likely continue to occur and become increasingly dangerous over time. The wildfires illustrate the impending reality of climate change, and how it is rapidly affecting our planet. August and September already include five of the six largest wildfires in recorded history. If nothing is done to confront the growing issue of climate change, then more property and lives will be lost in the coming years. 

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