There are many consequences of man-made climate change, including rising ocean levels and severe weather catastrophes. Another major concern for residents of heavily forested areas is the increased chance of wildfires, which thrive on dried vegetation and threaten lives and property. California is no stranger to this issue given its classically dry climate.
CNN reports that over the past several days, firefighters in the coastal areas just north of Los Angeles, in the Santa Monica Mountains, have been battling a blaze that has burned 28,000 acres and damaged 15 homes, while threatening another 4,000. Fortunately, dry weather gave way to rain which aided the firefighting efforts, but the fact remains that these catastrophes are becoming alarmingly common in the mountainous areas surrounding the Los Angeles basin.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, there have been nearly 850 fires in California since January, a significant increase over the average number of 522 that typically take place through the first four months of the year.
One of the culprits for the uptick in wildfires is quicker melting of the winter snow pack, which now takes place one to four weeks earlier than it did 50 years ago, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Once the snow melts, forests become much drier and more combustible, making occurrences like lightning strikes and errant camping fires much more likely to set large areas ablaze.
In addition to the immediate danger of damage from fire, these incidents create significant amounts of smoke, creating a health hazard for anyone living nearby, particularly those with asthma.