I Can Feel the Earth Move
By Cal Orey
Western Wildfires… On the Rise?
Perhaps, there is something to global warming and we will see more effects including more wildfires during the summer into the fall. – 2013 Forecasts, Cal Orey January Oracle 20-20
The news is, Western wildfires are becoming “more immense” than ever before. This summer, science gurus claim the Arizona wildfire and other fires burning in the West are not an earthshaking surprise as the planet gets hotter. And, of course, warmer temperatures and drought are not to be ignored during a longer fire season.
In July, more than 24 wildfires are burning in the West (including Colorado, Southern California, and Nevada), many triggered by the heat wave, lack of humidity, and winds. One unforgettable wildfire in Arizona, took the lives of 19 firefighters in the mountain town of Yarnell.
Worse, the U.S. Forest Service notes wildfires in the West are more commonplace than a half a century ago. So, are Western wildfires really raging out of control? Read on—find out the lowdown on terrifying and destructive summer/fall wildfires and Mother Nature.
GLOBAL WARMING TO BLAME—OR NOT?
Like many of the effects attributed to global warming, fires have been occurring for many years—with and without man’s help. Yes, surprisingly, the world as had its share of fires before you were born and before industrialization of the 20th century.
In nature, lightning causes a number of fires every year. Whether we like it or not, fires actually serve a purpose in the environment. A forest not gardened out or not subject to brush clearing fire on a regular basis will develop a ground cover which can cause an extremely hot, low fire that sterilizes the soil when a fire eventually does occur.
The main complaint in the thinly stretched global-warming-leads-to-more-fires chain is that fires created by global warming will have a negative effect on the total count up of species, ecosystems, and peoples’ habitat in a given location. And that’s not all…
FIRE SEASON IS GETTING BIGGER, BADDER
Some researchers believe that some areas of the world, including the western United States should prepare themselves for more wildfires. It doesn’t take a savvy scientist to tell you that wacky weather and rising temperatures thanks to the below average snowfall in the Western states is partially to blame for wildfires in the past and future. While weather is a key factor, the jury is still out whether Western states are victims of climate change.
Whether you live in the Western states or East Coast, Deep South, or Midwest, wildfires may affect you one day. Take a look at these factoids, straight from the website http://www.smokeybear.com/wildfires.asp—and find out what you can do to stay aware of a problem on our planet that appears to be on the rise.
Facts on Fires:
- In 2011, there were 10,249 wildfires caused by lightning, but 63,877 wildfires caused by human error (as reported to the National Interagency Fire Center).
- In 2011, more than 8.7 million acres burned due to wildfires in the U.S. More than 5.4 million acres burned due to human-caused wildfires.
Common ways YOU could unintentionally start a wildfire
- unattended debris burning
- equipment fires such as from lawnmowers, ATVs, power equipment
- unattended campfires
- carelessly discarding fireplace or BBQ ashes
For more information: https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2022/
As a native Californian, I know the danger of wildfires. More than 30 years ago, I lived in Santa Cruz Mountains, Calif. In the summertime, the High Fire Danger signs were a constant reminder that our community was a victim of wildfires. In 1991, I was on the beat as a journalist for the deadly Oakland Firestorm—an unforgettable event that affected homes, people and their pets. And in 2007, I ended up evacuating South Lake Tahoe, to avoid the drama of the Angora Fire...and the Caldor Fire was horrific as we almost lost our town after the mandatory evacuation.
While fire season is not over, and the wildfires continue to spread, this year may or may not be one that goes down in history. As wildfires break out in the states West of me, I cannot help but wonder, “Are we next?” The sound of sirens and plumes of smoke have me and my pets on guard. I know living in the forest I am too close for comfort and a wildfire during the summer and fall can become a harsh reality of living in paradise.
(August issue Oracle 20-20 Magazine, by Cal Orey)