The recent deadly wildfires that have mainly devastated the states of California, Oregon and Washington along the west coast have caused apocalyptic scenes of thick clouds of smoke in some areas. These conditions have blocked off the sun and created orange skies, poor air quality, and scorching, record high temperatures.
With these unfavorable circumstances in the lives of those living in the western part of this country, many have begun to ask the question: “What has caused these unprecedented waves of wildfires?”
According to the New York Times, while there are a multitude of reasons for this surge of burning across the west coast, including the strong Santa Ana winds that usually are present through the fall to spring months and the lack of controlled fires and burns performed in certain states such as California, much of the cause for the fires can be pointed at climate change or the warming environment.
Climate change is an issue that impacts everyone. The global temperature rise that largely began during the Industrial Age has been proven to be caused by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activity and human-made emissions, according to NASA.
Human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, which includes oil, coal and other natural gases, releases emissions such as carbon dioxide into the air that builds up in the atmosphere, according to the NOAA. As NASA also reported, it is evident that our planet needs a certain amount of these greenhouse gases, as they are a natural part of the world and allow the atmosphere to trap in some of the heat from the sun and keep the planet warm and sustainable for human life.
However, NASA has also stated that excess amounts of greenhouse gases caused by humans can amplify this process, called the greenhouse effect, and cause too much heat to be trapped and create a global temperature rise.
In general, a significant increase in the world’s temperature can cause more natural disasters and destroy some of Earth’s environments. With the potential for more disastrous natural occurrences in the future, it is vital for people to realize the dangers of climate change and make some adjustments to their everyday behavior to help reduce global warming.
A simple change that people can make is being more aware of their energy and waste production. Turning on the lights or using any electrical source adds excess carbon emissions to the environment, as reported by Science Daily.
While people obviously cannot eliminate electricity from their lives, making subtle adjustments such as turning off the lights in rooms that are not in use, using natural light in the morning and afternoon hours and unplugging unused cords and electronics can save energy and help the environment as Boston University has reported from their studies.
Other ways to help prevent climate change and help the environment includes conserving water and using less plastic.
People can use less water by taking shorter showers, preferably in five minutes, turning off the water while they are brushing their teeth, fixing leaky faucets and more. Using reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles also helps the environment as many plastic bottles end up in landfills rather than them being recycled, as CBS News has reported.
The Washington Post reported that plastic straws also have a negative impact as they are not biodegradable and release harmful pollutants to the surrounding environment over time, which is harmful as they are not often recycled and end up in the oceans or landfills as plastic bottles do. Some alternatives to plastic straws include reusable glass straws or straws made from more natural materials such as bamboo.
While some of these changes in behavior may not seem necessary or drastic enough for everyday people to help fight climate change, all of these adjustments, even though they are subtle, will help make lasting changes to the well-being of our planet.
If every person can make some changes in their life to help save the environment, the world will be made a better place and places such as California can avoid any unprecedented waves of wildfires in the future.