Wildfires And Climate Change: What You Need To Know

Wildfires, Climate Change, and The Ecosystem

On September 5, 2020, a gender reveal party started a horrendous wildfire in California called the El Dorado fire incident. Eleven days after the party, the fires consumed 18,506 acres, and was only 68% contained, forcing 3,467 people to evacuate their homes.

Unfortunately, humans indirectly start wildfires more frequently than we would like to admit. In fact, humans are to blame for starting 85% of wildfires in the United States. 

Is climate change a cause of wildfires, and what is humanity’s role in the increase of wildfires in the past decade? More importantly, what can we do to stop the spread of dangerous wildfires? 

To answer these questions, we need to look at wildfires and climate change, examine their correlations and think of active ways to address the problem. 

What Are Wildfires?

A wildfire is an uncontrollable fire that burns in forests, grasslands, and savannas. They often burn in rural areas.  Wildfires are a natural part of our ecosystem and have occurred for hundreds of millions of years. Forests benefit from small-scale wildfires because they help clean the forest floor, kill plant and animal diseases, provide new habitats for animals, and enable the growth of a new generation of healthier more fire-resistant trees. 

Unfortunately, our planet’s changing climate is making the environment hotter, resulting in drier land and increased drought. Two conditions that result in greater frequency and size of wildfires that have seemingly catastrophic consequences. 

Wildfire Causes

Wildfires can either start from natural occurrences, like a lightning bolt, or a man-made occurrence,  like a gender, reveal party gone wrong. In fact, it is estimated that 85% of wildfires are caused by humans. 

Climate Change And The Ecosystem

Rising temperatures, a leading sign of climate change, causes moisture to evaporate from the ground. When this happens, the land and vegetation dry up, which makes the area more susceptible to catching and staying on fire. 

As global temperatures continue to increase, scientists expect increasingly more land and vegetation to dry out. More so, rising temperatures cause winter snowpacks to melt a month earlier and shift meteorological patterns, driving away the rain from wildfire-prone areas. 

These changes in the planet’s climate make land more susceptible to wildfires while simultaneously removing many of nature’s natural barriers against wildfires.

What You Can Do?

Although wildfires and climate change appear to pose a grim outlook for the Earth’s future, they don’t have to. As humans, we have the power to break the vicious cycle and create a more sustainable future that nourishes the land.  Here are some ways  you can make an impact:

If you live in fire-prone areas:

  • Know the status of fire risk in your area and adhere to federal and state guidelines 
  • If you live in a home, mow grassy lawns and prune trees with dead branches and remove dead and dry plants that could fuel fire (e.g., pine cones, fallen leaves). 
  • Don’t start trash, campfire/bonfires, or use fireworks on windy days 
  • If it is ok to start trash, campfire/bonfires and use fireworks always have water nearby to extinguish flames if they get out of hand
  • Become a CarbonForest member. All of our trees are planted in the United States and we work with our planting partners to have our member’s trees planted in areas of highest risk
  • Support state and federal firefighters and their families

If you don’t live in fire-prone areas:

  • Become a CarbonForest member. All of our trees are planted in the United States and we work with our planting partners to have our member’s trees planted in areas of highest risk
  • Support state and federal firefighters and their families