By: Emily Balogh, Staff Writer
The campfire in California is the most recent in a series natural disasters that have ravaged our country. The conflagration has become the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history. The death toll is currently at 88 and is expected to rise, as over 200 people are still missing. Thousands of homes, buildings, schools, churches and stores have been left in ruins, and many Californians spent Thanksgiving in overcrowded, illness-stricken shelters as a result. But what caused this fire? Are we capable of preventing this, or are we powerless at the hands of Mother Nature?
Evidence suggests that California’s wildfires have gotten progressively worse. Many leading scientists believe that this is due to climate change. Increased droughts and rising global temperatures aid in the fast and seemingly unstoppable spread of these fires.
Climate change is wreaking havoc on California, but it is also taking its toll globally. Freak tsunamis, violent earthquakes and record-breaking hurricanes are becoming common place occurrences around the world. Climate change has caused natural disasters to become even more dangerous and deadly, yet many people argue over its legitimacy.
What can we do? The cost of damages for the campfire is incredibly high: homes have been destroyed, and most importantly, lives have been lost. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) is a thorough report from the federal government on the dangers of climate change and its effects on the United States. The report, released after the Thanksgiving holiday, addresses how heat waves, extreme weather and rising sea levels will continue to occur if greenhouse gas pollution continues to increase. The report indicates a need for immediate change.
And yet, Trump officials have responded to the report by saying it is a legacy of the Obama administration. They claim it puts forth the worst-case scenario. The head of the EPA even claimed Obama probably instructed the report to exaggerate. This is not the kind of response to climate change we need from our lawmakers, especially when a large portion of our country is literally on fire.These problems are real, pressing, and in need of immediate action.
Americans must continue pressuring lawmakers and government officials to acknowledge climate change and its effects on the earth. We need to elect officials who will advocate for preventative measures and ecological regulations that will create a safer, healthier planet. We, as American and global citizens, need to each do our part to take care of the earth while also learning to prepare for natural disasters and sustainable living. Only in this way can we prevent further loss of life and protect our planet.