Wildfires may get worse due to climate change

Red zone: The 8,000 firefighters tackling the blazes are helped by special water-dropping planes.

Is climate change to blame? Raging wildfires in California have killed more than 50 people and displaced 300,000 more. If global warming continues, some predicts that the blazes will only get worse.

What’s happening

The Camp Fire is one of the worst fires in American history. Approximately 400 square miles of California has been torched (an area bigger than New York City). With 56 reported casualties, it is also the most deadly. Firefighters are still tackling the inferno with over 200 people still unaccounted for.

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One of the worst hit places was a town called Paradise. Once home to 26,000 people, it is now a smoking ruin. “Our job is to put the fire out and we couldn’t stop that,” said spokesman Tim Aboudara. “There was nothing we could do.”

As the rescue missions continues, debate also rages about how the fires started. Some point to the weather. Lack of rain in recent weeks and strong winds have produced prime conditions for fires to spread.

Scientists fear that climate change will only make fires worse. One study predicts that if fossil fuel emissions do not decrease, the area burned will quadruple by 2100.

Although, not everyone agrees. US President Donald Trump blamed the fires on poor forest management.

Should we blame climate change?

Some say…

Definitely, some argue. It is basic science. As temperatures rise, moisture is sucked out of the soil. This makes hot regions like California even drier, which leads to worse fires. Recognising the impact of climate change helps us realise that we are all responsible. The fires are in America, but we can all help by living in more sustainable ways.

Others think…

There are others factors, others say. Climate change is a broad and complex process. It is difficult to blame it on one specific event. Scientists estimate that 90% of wildfires in America are started by humans — by campfires, cigarettes or acts of arson. Rather than only blaming climate change, we should make people take better precautions too.

You Decide

  1. Do we all have a responsibility to combat climate change?

Activities

  1. Write a diary entry of somebody who has been forced to run away from their home because of the fires. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel? Use as much descriptive language as possible.

Some People Say...

“On climate change, we don’t fully appreciate that it is a problem. We think it is a problem waiting to happen.”

Kofi Annan

What do you think?

Word Watch

Inferno
A large fire that is dangerously out of control.
The fires
There are currently three wildfires burning in California, the Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire.
Emissions
Pollution that is released into the atmosphere.
Quadruple
Multiply by four.
Sustainable
Causing little or no damage to the environment.
Arson
Deliberately setting fire to a property or area.

Subjects

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