Opinion

California is on fire. What can we do to fix it?

Wildfires have blighted California and the rest of the west coast this year at a historic level

Wildfires have blighted California and the rest of the west coast this year at a historic level

Image By: Jeff Head

Deadly wildfires are spreading across California this season, causing mass destruction and forcing families to abandon their homes during this unknown time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2018, the wildfires destroyed over a million acres of land in California. Wildfires in 2020 have already torn apart over 2.2 million acres in California and this is just the beginning. Last week, over half a million people were evacuated all over the west coast, and this number is rapidly growing as more fires are developing. 

President Trump recently visited California after three weeks of silence on the wildfires, which have continued to spread uncontrollably due to climate change. Trump has falsely blamed this disaster on “poor forest management, not climate change”. He also incorrectly stated, “I don’t think science knows” what is happening. In reality, scientists say that the wildfires result from continuous fuel emissions which have caused more extreme climate events. 

Trump has previously threatened to withhold federal aid and emergency money from California amid previous fires, due to their lack of political support for him.

Trump has also continuously removed environmental regulations from the country, endangering the people of California and the west coast who live in high-risk fire areas. Some of the eliminated regulations include replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which set strict limits on carbon emissions and canceling the requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions. Scientists have proven climate change is a major factor in these wildfires discrediting Trump’s comments. 

Knowing the history and evident damage from the fire season in California, further action must be taken by our government to provide more aid and inform people about our changing environment. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom attributed the mass outbreak of wildfires to climate change and stated that, “California is America in fast forward” and that other communities should be prepared for what is to come in our country. 

As a California native, I was evacuated from my home in 2018 and I know the fear that these people are going through. Climate change is rapidly impacting our world and more immediate action needs to happen. This climate-change-driven drought in California is causing temperatures to reach record highs and burning the place I call home. 

Over the last few years, fires in California have been growing in intensity and have devastated the state. Scientists explained that these rapid wildfires are a perfect example of climate change in our country.

California’s population is constantly growing and people are finding homes in high-risk fire areas. The state is also experiencing hotter temperatures, resulting in less precipitation and leading to drier soil and less moisture in the air. For example, San Diego has been experiencing heat waves of 100 degrees and in the L.A. area, temperatures have reached up to 113 degrees over the last few weeks.  

Firefighters have already battled over two dozen blazes and it is just the beginning of fire season. These wildfires are pushing people out of their homes as firefighters are scrambling to save the structures. California is in desperate need of assistance from these emergency evacuations during the pandemic. 

The reason this year is so intense is because climate change is driving the severity of the wildfires. They are bigger and spreading faster than history has ever seen.  The main cause of the inevitable wildfires are plants and trees that are dying out due to climate change, scientists stated.

California is not the only state facing mass destruction due to fires this year; Oregon and Washington have also experienced the effects of these blazes. 

In Oregon, they are facing raging wildfires, which have caused the greatest loss of human lives and property due to fires in the state's history. These wildfires are spreading fast and are proving to be more destructive than ever thought possible.

Due to the magnitude of the fires, smoke and haze have spread across the United States this past week, demonstrating how powerful these blazes are. Trump blaming California for this mass burning and destruction is insanity. He has been neglecting the severity of these blazes, and thus hurting millions of Americans. 

The federal government needs to provide support to the communities and firefighters that are suffering and struggling to contain these fires. The United States Forest Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have failed to properly address the devastation from these fires. It is time to implement strategies to prepare for these wildfires and take them seriously. 

There is no be-all-end-all solution when it comes to these wildfires, and it is difficult to prevent these fires from starting due to the sky-rocketing temperatures and dry forestation. But there are measures that need to be taken. California needs a new state agency whose sole purpose is to reduce the risk of these wildfires and prepare for fire season.

We know these wildfires are coming. Year after year we see mass destruction and losses due to these blazes. It's time California takes action and starts preparing for fire season.

A new state agency specifically focused on reducing the risk of wildfires would help keep communities safe who are in high-risk areas. They could specifically set out to protect lives and homes that are in jeopardy. The U.S. and state governments need to provide funds to make an agency like this possible to stop these life-threatening wildfires every year.

Such an agency could not only protect California but other states along the west coast who are facing unimaginable losses due to these wildfires. No one hesitates when creating more public schools or special police departments, and at this point, California wildfire preparedness agencies should be no exception.

Samantha is a Junior studying Strategic Communications, with a certificate in Digital Studies. How alarmed are you by these recent wildfires? Do you think more should be done to fight and prevent them? Send all comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com

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