Where There is Smoke, There is Fire

By Elle Baker

September 21, 2020

   Over the past few weeks, the United States has been hit by extreme weather of all kinds,  including record-breaking hurricanes, wildfires, and heatwaves. Many people were expecting an intense hurricane and fire season this year, but what has occurred is far worse.

   California alone has been ravaged by a series of record-breaking wildfires, heatwaves, and heavy winds.  The first fire recorded this season was started on August 17th by a series of lightning storms in the Bay Area, named the Bear Fire, according to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. 

   The lightning strikes themselves were record-breaking from the last storm in 2008 where there were more than 5,000 strikes that sparked thousands of wildfires across the West Coast. This storm struck nearly 7,000 times in a span of three days and the fires it ignited have continued to destroy over 254,000 acres with 38% containment. The evacuees included those who were forced to flee the Camp Fire in 2018. 

  As of September 10th, “about two dozen major wildfires are now raging in a year that already has seen 2.2 million acres charred. That’s a record for the Golden State for one year, and four months remain in the fire season.” Cal Fire said.

  A more interesting source of these fires began on September 5th in El Dorado at a gender reveal party. The couple decided to use a  “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” to announce their baby’s gender, which resulted in a 7,400-acre fire as of September 7th according to The New York Times.    In addition to fires, hurricane season is upon the Eastern Coast and records have been broken within the first month. Hurricane Isaias was a destructive Category 1 hurricane that caused extensive damage across the Caribbean and the East Coast of the US, including a large tornado outbreak that created the strongest tropical cyclone-spawned tornado since Hurricane Rita in 2005. The hurricane began on July 30th and lasted until August 5th. In total, the hurricane cost more than $4.3 billion dollars in damage and 18 lives in total.

   Hurricane Laura came in with the same gusto as Isaias, but with three times the fatalities and racked up a category 4 rating. It tied with the 1856 Last Island hurricane as the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in Louisiana. 67 fatalities in just over a week. Just devastating.

   It is difficult to deny the reality of climate change when there is a winter storm advisory warning for Denver residents after temperatures in the 100s just two days later. They are set to have temperatures dropping over 60 degrees from 101 degrees on Saturday to a predicted 32 degrees on Tuesday according to CNN.  

  Climate change has been an incredibly large contributing factor to all of these natural disasters and it has been proven by multiple scientists across the world. Rostin Behnam, a Democratic commissioner, told CNN “It’s incumbent on policymakers, elected officials and regulators to start building in rules about climate resilience so we don’t suffer in the long run from these dramatic weather events. These are real-world climate events happening on a more frequent basis and more extreme manner.” 

   The only reason why these extreme weather events have become more and more frequent is from the lack of action by the United States government in taking preventative action against the ever-growing threat of climate change. The president has blatantly denied the reality of climate change and has even gone as far as to say that windmills cause cancer – which is one of the best natural resources in efforts to reduce pollution – and has called climate change a “hoax”.

  Regardless of what the theories are about how climate change came to be, there can no longer be any denial of climate change’s presence and the impact it is having on the whole world. 

   With every hurricane, heatwave, winter storm, and wildfire, all anyone can do is hope that the U.S. can get through the rest of 2020 in one piece. 

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