Climate Change, Hurricane Ida, and California Wildfires
Updated: Oct 8, 2021
Over the years, climate change has continuously been impacting the Earth in more harmful ways than helpful. In recent observations and experiences, world records of natural disasters and temperatures have been seen internationally, resulting in a surge of panic from people all over the world. Disasters caused by climate change, such as floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and, specifically, California wildfires are all happening, causing the Earth to be in a state of emergency. Human activities and lifestyles are the larger factors that play a role in climate change, which force scientists, environmental advocates, nation officials, and the media to inform people about what is happening on all corners of the planet.
The cause of climate change, specifically global warming, is mainly the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. After years of humans burning fossil fuels which include coal, gasoline, and oil, the balance of the four greenhouse gases have been altered significantly . Fossil fuels and pollution from human activity constantly increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. When there is too much of an imbalance and influx of one gas in the atmosphere, the temperature overall is increased, which enlarges the occurrence of stronger natural disasters. According to Steven Mufson from TheWashington Post, this temperature increase has also led methane to be leaked into the atmosphere. Methane, the greenhouse gas that is used to fuel and carbonate, has been found in a copious amount underneath the permafrost in Siberia’s wetlands. After the record breaking heatwave in the summer of 2021, an increase in methane was found to be released into the atmosphere due to the permafrost thawing. More of the methane was found in even larger amounts in Antarctica, causing concerns to spike among scientists.
When climate change occurs and there is an increase in the global temperature, it increases the amount of and the destruction caused by natural disasters worldwide.. David Wallace-Wells reveals in The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/01/adapt-or-die-that-is-the-stark-challenge-to-living-in-the-new-world-we-have-made?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-1 ) that the flood occurring in Henan Province, China, was a record breaking disaster. The flood ended in 99 reported deaths, millions of livestock dead, and acres completely destroyed. After reflecting on what has occurred and what is probable to occur, Sadiq Khan reveals that not even the most climate conscious countries are safe. The Earth is at a record level of heat since the dawn of human civilization, and natural disasters have worsened throughout the years, increasing in power and destruction, causing everyone to be unprepared for any hurricane, flood, or wildfire to occur, no matter how resistant buildings might be..
Hurricane Ida, a category 4 hurricane, hit Louisiana on August 26th, devastating the entire eastern coast of the United States. A reported 109 people died due to the storm, 40 of which were caused by the aftermath of the destruction and flooding in the Northeast alone. After hitting Louisiana, Ida continued its way up the east coast, causing record breaking amounts of rainfall in New York and floods in New Jersey. After NPR revealed that after New York was in a declared flash flood emergency for the first time during the modern human era , President Joe Biden planned to expedite a Major Disaster Declaration in support. Central Park’s world record amount of rainfall in an hour nearly doubled from 1.94 inches during Tropical Storm Henri, to 3.15 inches. All air and public transportation was shut down throughout that region of the United States, and the unprepared area was forced into a state of emergency. New Jersey experienced record breaking floods throughout the state, ruining buildings and infrastructure that were not built for such circumstances, which shut down the state completely. In Pennsylvania, a power outage hit as part of the aftermath of a rare occurring tornado in Mullica Hill. These disasters and emergencies are all connected to climate change because of how drastic the weather and temperature has changed over the years. More damaging and powerful disasters are occurring, and modern infrastructure is not equipped to withstand these circumstances, which puts the entire world at risk. .
As of September 8th, around 2.2 million acres of California land has been destroyed by new wildfires in 2021. Currently, 14 active fires are being contained by about 14,000 personnel. Compared to 2020, the amount of acres burned so far is “on par” with how many acres that have been burned as of now, making this a “new reality” (Chief Thom Porter in the New York Times). The spreading and ongoing California fires are said to continue up until December, concerning cities all around rural forest areas that may be at risk by the fires. The Dixie Fire, the largest wildfire this season, may become the largest wildfire in California history with 960,000 acres and over 1,300 buildings destroyed, with only 59% of it contained by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The Caldor Fire is threatening South Lake Tahoe and cities on the border of Nevada, already burning around 220,000 acres, with some of those acres on the Sierra Nevada being recorded for the first time . Although the fire has slowed, with around 50% currently being contained, Caldor has been reported to spread miles at a time, being one of the fastest growing fires discovered.
On top of the existing fires throughout California, a storm over northern California has been reported to spark lightning-induced fires all over the area. Although the storm came with rain over the Dixie fire, it was claimed that the fire was not affected by the rain in the slightest, and instead grew during the time of the storm. A reported 385 lightning strikes, according to the Sacramento Bee, hit northern California, producing small, but quickly growing fires. As the temperature grows, the summer season in California will continue to experience fires throughout the state, and the amount of acres burned continues to increase every year.
There has been a steady increase in people who are attempting to save the planet by discussing and spreading awareness about what is occurring in the environment with individuals who ask, “if the temperature is only increasing one degree, why is it such a big deal?”, and while scientists address that the smallest increase in temperature may not sound like something to worry about, the Earth is made up of millions of interconnected systems that all rely on each other to function correctly. When a small portion of a system alters, it throws off the entire structure, forcing the system to adapt or die. In this case, there is a small increase in global surface temperature, resulting in it throwing off every system that has relied on the same, consistent temperature to function properly. To measure the effect of a change in temperature, NASA used the example of an ice age occurring when the temperature was estimatedly 5 degrees lower than it is today. According to CNN weather, Earth has warmed 1 degree Celsius since the pre-industrial time period. In current times, there has been an exponential increase in population, human activity, pollution, and burning of fossil fuels since before the industrial revolution, making the trend in how much the temperature will soon increase to keep rising. It has now been estimated that the Earth will increase 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the next century..
Due to the growing increase in natural disasters caused by climate change, Earth is at a constant state of change that puts humanity in danger. The daily activities that everyone has grown used to is now creating an imbalanced atmosphere which is resulting in stronger natural disasters, and the warming of the entire planet. It has been seen and documented in all parts of the world with many variations in the aftermaths of different disasters and the destruction caused by the impacts of climate change. It has created a state that the world has never before seen or experienced.