Many people still think about climate change and global warming as events that will happen many years from now and that the consequences of reliance on fossil fuels won't be felt for decades to come. But the recent wildfires that have been tearing through the desert communities around Los Angeles demonstrate that renewable energy and going green need to be the priority for citizens, public officials and policymakers now, not later.
A fire near Banning, California, a couple hours east of L.A., has grown so rapidly and so large that the state has shutdown Highway 243 and evacuated at least 1,500 people, reports local affiliate ABC-7. Fifteen structures have been destroyed, and firefighters are unsure how many of those were homes. Furthermore, there seems to be no end in sight for the disaster, as the temperature is expected to remain in the mid to high nineties for the next week. Things may get much worse before they get better.
The wildfire is another sign that the California climate is experiencing its driest year on record. Many states in the Southwest are under "moderate drought" or worse, while record rainfall in other areas signals that weather patterns are continuing to destabilize because of climate change.
If these conditions persist, the economic and environmental costs could be catastrophic. Ecosystems will be disrupted, more communities will be threatened by wildfires in the hottest parts of the summer, and local economies that depend on seasonal weather, such as ski resorts and agricultural areas, could fall into decline.
For more information on the effects of climate change, stay tuned to LifeIsGreen.com.