The Relationship Between Wildfires and Climate Change

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In 2015, the United Nations (UN) established the Paris Agreement, developing a global urgency for climate change prevention. America just signed the agreement this year, signifying its delayed adoption of sustainability. Biden also established a national carbon-neutrality goal to minimize atmospheric degradation, preserving the global ecosystem.

Developing eco-consciousness in the U.S. may take time and convincing. Expanding society’s awareness of climate change’s adverse effects can promote sustainable change. Exploring the relationship between wildfires and climate change may protect humanity and the global ecosystem.

What is Climate Change?  

Before exploring the connection between wildfires and climate change, we must assess climate change as an independent concept. Politics skew society’s perception of the concept, creating confusion and misunderstanding. Many individuals believe climate change represents rising temperatures on Earth.

While increased heat production is part of the environmental phenomenon, various elements make up its entirety. The first step to understanding climate change is recognizing humanity’s involvement. When individuals drive vehicles, illuminate rooms, heat homes and produce food, they utilize energy.

Nearly 80% of America’s power supply derives from fossil fuels, like natural gas and oil. During combustion, the energy source releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The emissions alter its composition and ability to produce life-sufficient surface temperatures.

Naturally, Earth absorbs sunlight and produces heat. Then, it warms the surface and reabsorbs excess energy. Finally, it sends unnecessary elements to space, creating ideal global temperatures.

When greenhouse gases invade the atmosphere, they disrupt the process. Air pollutants produce more heat from solar radiation compared to preexisting atmospheric elements. They also trap excess energy in the environment, filtering it back through the heat production process.

The enhanced greenhouse effect contributes to various levels of ecological degradation. It causes ocean acidification, species’ endangerment, natural disasters, agricultural deficiencies and other forms of harm. One severe effect of the rising global temperature is wildfires.

How do Wildfires Form?

There are currently 11 wildfires burning in California alone. The fires directly cause adverse effects on humanity and the global ecosystem. One burn, four years ago, signified the severity of wildfires.

In November of 2018, a California fire expanded out of control, burning a significant quantity of land. Nearly 85 individuals died from the event, and various species similarly experienced detrimental impacts. To prevent future wildfires, exploring their development is essential.

Fires occur when a spark interacts with flammable material. As the global temperature rises, the evaporation rate follows. Increased water loss may increase precipitation in some regions and leave others in extended droughts.

Without sufficient precipitation, the vegetation becomes susceptible to burning. The spark from a train wheel or an improperly diffused campfire can ignite a drought-ridden forest. When plant matter burns, it releases carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

They also destroy natural habitats, forcing animals to migrate. While many creatures effectively escape wildfires, many are unable to survive long after. During the forced migration, animals may lose access to consistent food sources, shelter and other vital resources.

Wildfires also affect humanity, burning our homes and forms of property. We can prevent mass burning by reducing the evaporation rate. The environmental occurrence relates directly to climate change.

How Wildfires and Climate Change Impact Each Other

As vegetation burns, it releases thick, gray smoke into the atmosphere. The smoke contains elements that create the enhanced greenhouse effect. As the global temperature rises, as a result, the evaporation rate rises.

Increased evaporation from wildfires, in turn, causes more fires. Climate change originating from human-related sources also increases the flammability of forests. There are various ways individuals can decrease their environmental impacts, reducing water displacement and the global temperature.

Reducing Wildfires

Climate change derives from society’s use of fossil fuels. Individuals can adopt sustainable technology and minimize emission-producing activities to conserve the atmosphere. Nearly 29% of national greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, making it the most significant pollution factor.

You can reduce your carbon footprint by using alternate forms of transportation. Walking, skating and riding your bike are emission-less ways to get around. Individuals may also carpool to reduce the number of emissions in the atmosphere.

Another significant emission-producing sector is agriculture. Cattle and other livestock release methane through belching, polluting the atmosphere. A single cow releases about 220 pounds of methane annually, disrupting Earth’s heat production process.

The greenhouse gas is 28 times more effective at producing heat compared to carbon dioxide. When individuals consume red meat, they indirectly contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Adopting a plant-based diet can significantly shrink one’s carbon footprint, reducing atmospheric degradation.

Is Earth Broken Beyond Repair?

Many individuals believe the environment is gone beyond repair. Fortunately, researchers confirmed the beneficial effects of emission reduction practices, creating long-term ecological preservation. Even your most minor climate change reduction efforts make an impact when society follows. 

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.