As fires rage in California, many families are facing nightmarish situations with the fires, smoke, and devastation. This brings the rise of a new controversy: what is the origin of this living nightmare?
by Sriya Gundlapally
California is burning. Wildfires have been relentlessly reducing houses to ash and forcing several people to evacuate, possibly at the risk of losing their entire lives. With the number of separate wildfires reaching nearly 8,000, the smoke, the orange skies, the lightning, and the fire… it all seems like a nightmare.
Thousands of Californians have been negatively impacted, both mentally and physically, as families are devastated, many left with no place to call home. Meanwhile, thousands of firefighters are risking their lives to save others from these helpless situations. As many cities like Paradise and San Francisco are struggling to compensate for the massive wildfires, there’s a question circulating in people’s minds: why are these wildfires happening? Well, one of the most popular answers is none other than climate change. With our increasing negative impact on the planet, climate change is the cause of many of the world’s natural disasters. However, there are oppositions to that claim.
And that’s where the trilemma lies. Is climate change the culprit of the relentless California wildfires, or are there others that have more of an impact? Or is there a neutral stance? It’s important to understand why some think climate change is the culprit and some don’t, so, let’s find out.
Climate Change is the Cause of the Wildfires
Climate change has been happening for over a century (ever since the Industrial Revolution) due to natural and human-originated impacts. There are strong reasons to believe that climate change is the driving force for the recent California wildfires. According to Park Williams, a bioclimatologist, climate change and the fires can be connected to each other since “warmer temperatures dry out fuels” like grass, dried leaves, and shrubs. Those dried materials are what lead to easy fire breakouts.
New high temperatures were also reached within the past two months as Death Valley touched 130 degrees Fahrenheit! These temperatures have increased over past years, and the rising temperatures are used to justify climate change. These shocking temperatures were a part of the heat waves rippling through California, and research from institutes such as the NASA Earth Observatory and the National Weather Service backs up that it has a correlation to climate change by showing trends of heat waves “occurring earlier and persisting later.” In California, this heat wave due to climate change was a major way in which fires kindled and spread in various cities and towns.
Climate Change Has No Part in This
Mr. Limbaugh, a host who has millions of radio listeners, informed the large group of people that climate change and global warming are “not a scientific certainty.” He adds that climate change is thought of by environmentalists who just “want to convince you that your lifestyle choices [are what caused the wildfires]”. Furthermore, Tucker Carlson from Fox News says climate change is “merely reciting a partisan talking point”. President Trump also supports this view by claiming that “poor management of forestland” is to blame.
Although there is scientific evidence of climate change, many turn to look into other possibilities. Some of the other explanations around these fires include the winds. Because of the high-speed winds, “California’s fires swell to such massive sizes,” according to an article by Popular Mechanics. Fire tornadoes were also reported as a result of the winds. Apart from rather natural causes, some explain several fire cases as beginning through a criminal act of arson. Police have been investigating, and are finding out more and more. For example, Highway 101 fires were mainly traced back to Anita Esquivel who was “arrested in Monterey County, California” and charged with arson after it was reported that, according to journalist Aaron Groff, she was “accused of intentionally starting fires on the side of Highway 101 near Boronda.”
The Neutral Stance
Some believe that climate change is the true cause of the fires and back it up with scientific evidence and years of research. Others believe that climate change itself is a hoax and there must be policies, winds, and other factors that must be involved. If climate change is really the cause, does that mean policies do not matter? And if climate change doesn’t exist, why is research being gathered to support it?
Amidst such controversy, there must be a neutral stance in which climate change and policies are both to blame for the uncontrollable wildfires. Perhaps if policies were stricter and stopped actions like excessive carbon emissions more effectively, then climate change wouldn’t have come to the stage many believe it is at today; consequently, the fires may have been reduced and not been as catastrophic. Either way, people are being affected in several aspects due to the fires and there will always be people with varying points of view. It’s up to us to decide where we lie in the controversy of this living nightmare.