Why Is This Wildfire Season So Bad? There are more reasons than you might think.

Currently in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Colorado, Texas and Wyoming we are seeing huge numbers of wildfires. This year has brought the largest wildfire in California history and 6 out of the 20 largest wildfires in California history and is the worst year for wildfires on record and its not even peak season yet. There are currently 103 wildfires this year. Its been so bad that we are seeing pictures of San Francisco with hellish orange skies and in many places ash is falling like rain and looking at satellite imagery smoke covers much of California and is being pulled into a vortex off to the west. Its so bad half a million people have been evacuated in Oregon. Fourteen people have died in these fires this year, including a 1 year old and a 13 year old boy. We should all be praying the victims of these wildfires in our prayers and donating, if we can to help the victims.

So, let me explain why these wildfires are occurring. Most of the fires were ignited by a lightning storm and 2 explosive gender reveal parties (that’s strange and Antifa didn’t set any of them) but the more complicated question is why there was so much fuel.

As a climate science major and activist, there are actually two Climate Crisis connections. The first being that the Climate Crisis is making drought more likely and making droughts longer (but when it does rain it will pour very hard) this is putting stress on trees, is the climate crisis is also causing shorter winters, that normally kill the Western Pine Beetles but since the winters are short, more of them make it through the winter. Meaning now the insects have a huge advantage over the trees, creating dead forests that are red in color, creating an unnatural forest management problem. But the lack of response to the problem isn’t California’s fault, the federal government manages 57% of the forests of California, with the state only responsible for managing a whooping 2%, and private owners manage the rest. Also forest management isn’t a democratic platform issue nor is this just endemic to California its happening in states across the west (though most of the west’s forests are federally controlled.).

Federally Managed Lands
Deaths of Forests due to the Combination of Western Pine Beetles and Droughts
Forests killed by the Combination of Western Pine Beetle Explosion and Droughts both caused by the Climate Crisis.
The Western Pine Beetle

Now, those same droughts made more likely by the Climate Crisis make the brush drier (when its already suppose to be dry, since its California and its the dry season) and make the brush more likely to catch fire and make the fire easier to spread. The Climate Crisis is for the most part suppose to make dry places, drier and wet places wetter, and its suppose to create longer droughts and less frequent rain, but when it does rain, its suppose to rain extremely hard. One reason why the Climate Crisis is making droughts worse specifically in California is its messing with the jet stream, making it loopy in the summer, and because of this the jet stream, creates a loop around California, with the southern end being open, creating drier weather, since its harder for weather to get around the loop. There are also other reasons, as well, with the Climate Crisis messing with the energy in the Earth’s atmosphere. Its academically debated whether for droughts whether someone can say they were caused by the Climate Crisis but someone can say for certain they were more likely to happen. Its like if a baseball player takes steroids, you can’t necessarily say whether his home-run was because of the steroids, but you can say that made his home-run more likely. Either way, scientists have established that the droughts in California were made more likely because of the Climate Crisis.

IPCC’s Climate Change and the Land Report: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/4/2020/02/SPM_Updated-Jan20.pdf (See next image for key)

NASA Study on Drought Predictions

National Climate Assessment Report 2014

This year for California has been the worst on record in terms of wildfires. Also making this year special is this large storm that has caused lightning which is extremely rare in California (I have no idea if this is attached to the Climate Crisis, but I would probably go with no.). The lightning ignited the fires well, except 2 which lit by explosive gender reveals.

Also to be clear, the Republicans don’t believe in the Climate Crisis. Trump has it a “Chinese Hoax” and done literally everything in his power, including not only stopping us from decarbonizing but also restricting scientist’s language and trying to defund climate science and halting adaptation programs (Its even in the Republican platform) and democrats in Congress and Biden have a plan to do something about and get us close where we need to be and do it equitably. We are currently only at 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial times, imagine what 1.5 degrees brings, 2, 3, or 4 degrees brings. To have a 50% percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees, we must reach net zero emissions by 2050, and half that by 2030, and that isn’t counting into effect that it will take longer for developing countries to be able to decarbonize nor is it taking into account the full scale of positive feedback loops where the Climate Crisis creates impacts that make the Climate Crisis worse (for example, the white reflective Arctic sea ice melting, revealing a heat absorbent dark blue ocean increasing warming). To actually stay under 1.5 degrees we must decarbonize at least 65% by 2030, and get to net zero emissions by 2045, which Energy Scientists say is do-able and doing so would create millions of jobs and bring our economy back from our depression that we are currently in and stop the 7 million pollution deaths every year worldwide. To do this must end the fossil fuel industry, but not forget the fossil fuel employees and make sure they can still get jobs at the same wage and benefits or retire if they need to and Climate Activists, like myself will make sure they are not forgotten and we must focus on that the Climate Crisis will impact poorer countries, poorer people, people of color, rural people, children, the elderly and especially Native peoples. We can do this but we must act now. (See my medium post on “What a Green New Deal would do”.)

Now that doesn’t mean that the Governors of Pennsylvania (where I live) or the Governor of California are adequately responding to the Climate Crisis as they keep issuing fossil fuel infrastructure permits left and right and the science says we can’t do that anymore.

We need to act now on this. The clock is ticking.

I'm a 19 year old college student and Climate Activist with Asperger's who studying Climate Science and Political Science. From a small town in central PA