Since the Industrial Revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 290 parts per million to 390, with a steady incline of 2 ppm each year from burning fossil fuels.
This increased use of fossil fuels has caused temperatures to rise every year, Antarctic ice caps to melt, and larger wildfires such as the ones we have seen on the west coast this year.
The top 15 out of 20 deadliest wildfires in California history have happened within the past 20 years with over 4 million acres of land in California having been burned this year.
For example, the wildfire known as Camp Fire in 2018, is known to be the most destructive fire in the state’s history. It destroyed 153,336 acres of land, killed 85 people, and with economic losses between $3 million and $6 million dollars.
As the usage of fossil fuels increases, climate change is extending the length of the wildfire season as well as amplifying drought frequency and severity. Drought causes moisture stress in vegetation, which leads to higher susceptibility to wildfire.
As California’s population continues to grow, more people live in the areas highly damaged by the wildfires, impacting communities throughout the state.
As much as these wildfires damage the environment, they also have damaged the health of the communities within California. The particle pollution within the wildfire smoke can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks, deaths, and premature deaths.
Based on current trends, by the year 2100, there could be 450 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which could possibly melt all ice on earth.
To limit the further devastative effects of climate change, we must phase off fossil fuels with the next generation and help the reforestation of land impacted by forest fires.