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Wildfires and Warming: Fire Thrives On Air

Since the industrial revolution, society has tended to unethical practices that drastically changed the Earth's climate. Humans releasing copious amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has resulted in Earth's increasing temperature in a short period. Global warming stresses ecosystems through this unnatural range while also introducing escalating risks with initiating fire threats, especially in warmer and drier environments. Fire threats present concerns for wildfires, which have sustained a less than welcomed appearance in the Western United States. When considering climate change, the topic is all the more relevant.

Climate change magnifies the opportunity for perfect fire conditions - low precipitation, warmer air temperatures, strong winds, and years of fire suppression motivates savage wildfires. Also, a buildup of vast vegetation may briefly transform into fuel, and old infrastructure heightens the baseline dangers. Once a fire begins, it's hard to reverse the effects. Although individuals cause more than 80 percent of U.S. wildfires, these factors make them all the more difficult to put out. The scale of wildfires burning across the country has produced staggering consequences, with more than five million acres burned just in 2020.

Although wildfires are an expected event of many ecosystems, it is a different story when they burn more commonly and consume larger areas. Wildfires not only alter the natural environment but public health as well. The growing number of idnivdiuals in rural areas is an expanding danger to life. Smoke reduces air quality and contributes to eye and respiratory illnesses, especially among the young and elderly. Wildfires that burn in residential areas can melt plastic water pipes and instigate water pollution with known carcinogens. The property damage also puts pressure on federal and state budgets, which has increased for the U.S. Forest Service from 15% to more than 50% in 2017.

Ways To Build Resilience

Fortunately, preventative measures can be taken to decrease suck risks from becoming more of a reality. Communities, builders, homeowners, and forest managers can lessen the impacts of wildfires by:

1. Discouraging developments near fire-prone areas through small zoning jurisdiction.

2. Expanding the space between structures and trees to reduce the risk of fires.

3. Including fire-resistant design characteristics and materials in buildings

4. Removing fuels, like dead trees from forests.

5. Allocating more resources to firefighting and fire prevention

6. Developing recovery plans for wildfires and implementing them quickly to decrease erosion, control flooding, and minimize habitat destruction.

7. Avoid burning highly combustible items, such as fabric soaked in gasoline or oil, especially on a windy day. If making fire, never leave it unattended and remain cautious with the aftercare by completely dousing it with dirt.

8. Avoid gasoline or oil to spill on vegetation, and beware of parking vehicles or placing machines in dry grass.

The connection between climate change and wildfires has become increasingly relevant and has encouraged intense and out-of-control fires over the past few decades, science has strongly determined. In an unnatural state with a heating planet, rising heat, altered rain, and snow patterns, and noticeable differences in plant communities contribute to the escalating likelihood of wildfires burning more intensely and widely than ever recorded.

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