Are California Fires Caused By Global Warming

It’s a common misconception that global warming is only causing larger and more frequent heat waves and droughts – in the western United States, the effects of climate change are being felt in a different way. Wildfires, for instance, are actually getting worse in California, due to the changing climate.

Though most people blame the increase in wildfires on human activity, such as logging or careless campers, climate change actually plays an even larger role. The scientific evidence is compelling – hotter and dryer weather, caused by global warming, creates the perfect conditions for wildfires.

For example, California experienced its hottest summer on record in 2018, and it was accompanied by a drought and innumerable wildfires up and down the state. According to researchers, this is not a coincidence. Warmer temperatures cause snow to melt and evaporate quicker, leading to drier surroundings. This, combined with persistent winds, causes wildfires to spread rapidly and uncontrollably.

Not only can global warming lead to more and bigger fires, it can also cause them to burn hotter and last longer. In years past, a fire usually burned itself out in a matter of days; now, they can last for weeks, or even months. This is especially troubling, as it gives firefighters less time to contain the fires, making them even more difficult to manage.

The news is not all bad, however: better fire prevention and suppression techniques, combined with an improved understanding of the science behind wildfires, have helped to reduce the number of lives and homes lost to the flames. For instance, firebreaks (which involve clearing away trees and brush to create gaps that can slow or stop a fire from spreading), are now used to great effect in many areas of California.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for policy regarding climate change. Despite it being a major contributing factor in California’s wildfires, the state’s politicians have yet to come up with a comprehensive and effective policy to address it. In 2020, California passed a zero-emission vehicle law, but its effects won’t be felt for a few years, and it is yet to be seen how effective it will be.

Given the unavoidable truth that a warming planet will cause more and deadlier fires, it is essential that policymakers work together to address climate change in a meaningful way. Movement has started, but much more needs to be done to ensure that future generations won’t have to contend with the disastrous effects of global warming in the form of raging fires. It is only through collective action that this goal can be achieved.

Ernestine Warren is a passionate environmentalist, author, and advocate for the protection of the Earth's precious resources. She has written extensively on the causes and effects of global warming, providing accurate information to help educate people on how to combat this major global problem. With a background in science and biology, Ernestine has the tools to help develop solutions that meet everyone's needs while minimizing environmental damage. Her hope is that each person can do their part for the planet and make a real difference to help reduce climate change.

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