By Jennifer Liyanage
A wildfire in California can seemingly ignite out of nowhere, something many longtime California residents are far too aware of. Wildfires belittle us; serving as a harsh reminder that we are mere mortals and Mother Nature really has the upper hand. In the face of such a large, almost uncontrollable force of nature, we humans need to realize that we are part of the cause of these immense fires that are becoming more intensified by climate change each year.
Global warming has contributed to turning California into a dehydrated desert, an oven. A perfect blend of extreme heat, dry conditions, and odd new weather patterns like tropical storms creates an ideal environment to burn acres of land.
“In pretty much every single way, a perfect recipe for fire is just kind of written in California’s nature. It creates the perfect conditions for fire, as long as people are there to start them,” Dr. Park Williams, a drought expert, said to The New York Times.
California’s fires are notorious for mostly being started by humans. Take for example the current El Dorado Fire started by a gender reveal photo shoot or the 2018 Camp Fire caused by electrical transmission lines. Not only are these fires a threat to public safety and property, but they are becoming increasingly dangerous to the planet’s air quality.
As humans, when the threat of a fire reaches our hometowns, our only worries seem to be ourselves, our family, and our property. However, as these fires are slowly intensifying in severity each year, we should also be concerned about what will happen to our environment, our atmosphere, and our Earth as a whole. If we don’t take responsibility to slow down these extreme conditions that come as a result of climate change, we are going to face major issues that will soon enough be completely out of our control. One fire multiples into a dozen fires in a span of minutes, hours, or days, and it’s happening much more unpredictably and quickly compared to previous years. And the more fires, the more damaged property, trees, and soil that will result. These kinds of fires can also lead to the loss of ecosystem services and human lives.
Wildfires themselves are a natural part of our environment, however, when not caused by humans. When something in nature dies, it finds a way to renourish itself and grow again. Some positives of natural fires include releasing seeds for more tree species to flourish, clearing dead plants from the forest floor for new ones to grow, and the breakdown of nutrients for the soil. However when fires spread too dramatically, as often happens with human-caused fires, that fire can burn too hot, destroying nature’s chance to regrow properly.
“Fire belongs in the mountains. It’s healthy. The one thing that doesn’t belong here is us,” a firefighter said to The New Yorker. It is clear that humans have no power against the force of nature. We simply adapt to our conditions. There’s a beauty in how a fire expands from one small flame to an entire forest in such little time. It can only be described as a phenomenon of nature. The workings of a wildfire can be complex but fascinating to the eyes. If large enough it can be seen from space.. Fires are a powerful and eerily mesmerizing natural occurrence, though we must learn to prevent the destruction they can cause by treating our planet correctly, slowly but surely healing the damage we have already made. We need to preserve the beauty of nature.