Kids Connections- Wildfires and Climate Change
This blog is meant for younger audiences who would like to understand the connection of our country’s wildfires to our climate change crisis.
Right now in most of the western parts of our country, and basically all across the western coast, forests and lands have been taken over by massive wildfires. These fires are way too big and way too hot to be controlled by our firefighters who are battling day and night. Many people have lost their homes, their stuff, their towns, and even their lives to these fires.
The western part of our nation has seen wildfires as a normal process for many many years. It is part of the natural ecosystem processes that help recycle and replenish the life of those environments. But, in more recent years the fires have become massive environmental disasters. They have grown to unnaturally large and dangerous levels and resulted in tons of damage and human pain and loss.
Why have fires gotten so big and dangerous? Why have we lost control over this normal ecological process? Why is the western coast of our country on fire and many suffering because of it? It is because of climate change.
Climate Change results in the pattern of global warming. As our average temperatures get hotter and drier, this means that the lands out west also get hotter and drier, and stay that way for longer each year. This makes the normal fire season out west become longer and more of an ideal environment for massive and uncontrollable fires.
Fires would have already come at some level, but the level and amount we are seeing is because the forests and lands in the west are set up perfectly to catch fire and spread fire at a super speed. When fires are starting easier, from human activity, and natural occurrences like lightning strikes, it also means there will be more of them. The main reason they are starting so much easier is because the plants and lands have been dried out and left in really hot temperatures. The plants being so dry allows them to catch fire easier and burn at amazing rates which allows the fire to spread much faster.
Simply put, a hotter and drier forest means fires start easier and spread easier. It also means fires grow to bigger sizes and more dangerous levels. There are some more advanced connections that kids can research if they’d like to learn more. They involve the facts that water supplies to western forests have gone down because of climate change and the levels of insects that feed off of forests have gone up. Both of these things have also made forests more vulnerable to bigger and faster wildfires. And both of these things are also because of climate change.
I hope this explains why our fires have grown quicker and bigger, and out of control. The pattern of bigger and more dangerous fires unfortunately will not stop anytime soon, and will continue to get worse year and year, unless we stop the process of climate change. Climate change is directly behind the speed up of these disasters, and must be stopped.
This is the sad connection between wildfires and climate change. The worsening of climate change means the worsening of wildfires. We need to all fight climate change together and do what we can to stop its terrible effects. Please try and do your part in fighting climate which will help fight wildfires as well as many other environmental dangers that come from climate change. We are all in this together, and as a kid your understanding of the problem will help you face it in the future years of your life. Hope is not lost, but action is needed now.
Thank you for reading this Kids Connection piece. I hope your knowledge about the US’s wildfires and their connection to climate change has grown.
Additionally, here is a online map of current fires in the US: https://www.fireweatheravalanche.org/fire/
Front Image Courtesy of AccuWeather