Over the past few weeks, wildfires have swept through the states of Washington, Oregon, and California. The fires have burned a record number of acres compared to previous years, as well as created major pollution across America. These wildfires have not only resulted in tens of thousands of people fleeing their homes, but have also served as a wake-up call for Americans about the dangerous reality of climate change.
In 2019, a total of 4.2 million acres of land were burned by wildfires, compared to the 4.7 million acres burned in 2020 so far. The recent wildfires have caused major pollution issues in the United States. The city of Portland, Oregon now has the second-worst air quality in the world, second to Vancouver where wildfires are also occurring. Moreover, other U.S. cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have all recently ranked within the top ten spots of the worst air quality index in the world.
This wildfire season has made Americans realize how climate change impacts the wildfires. Climate change has caused “forest fuel”—organic matter that burns and spreads wildfires—to dry up, ultimately doubling the number of major forest fires in the U.S. over the last 35 years. In certain forests, even a 1°C increase in temperature can cause the median amount of burned land to increase by up to 600%.
A recent survey conducted by Stanford University shows that 25% of Americans now consider climate change to be their top concern. The survey also reported that 82% of Americans believe that the U.S. government, as well as businesses, should take at least a moderate amount of action toward combatting climate change. This is most recently seen in Michigan politics, with Governor Gretchen Whitmer signing an executive order yesterday to instate a plan ensuring complete carbon neutrality within the state’s economy by 2050. Michigan is now the ninth state to implement a plan to combat climate change in such a manner.
In order to save our planet from irreversible climate change, everyone needs to do their part. Many small, but effective changes can be made to our lifestyles to help the planet. If you’re unsure of what to do, here are some simple ways to help the planet:
- Use public transportation, ride your bike, or walk to your destination instead of driving a personal car/motorized vehicle.
- Reduce the amount of energy you consume: this can be done by simply turning off the lights after you leave the room, or by unplugging devices that you’re not currently using.
- Recycle: collect any plastic, glass, and paper and bring it to a local recycling center, where it will be properly handled. Additionally, in the state of Michigan, up to $0.10 can be earned for every carbonated container that is recycled. You can do this by returning discarded cans, plastic bottles, and glass bottles to grocery stores such as D&W or Meijer.
- Educate yourself and others about climate change: you can spread awareness about climate change by using social media, as well as by starting conversations with others to inform them about the dangers of climate change.
Featured image courtesy of Land Line Media.