|Lightning causes wildfires / Photo by Getty Images|
Wildfires are blazes that are uncontrolled and fueled by different types of weather, dry underbrush, and wind. It burns lands by the acres and takes over everything in its path in just a few minutes. Fossil charcoal indicates that wildfires began soon after the appearance of terrestrial plants 420 million years ago. Wildfire’s occurrence throughout the history of terrestrial life invites conjecture that fire must have had pronounced evolutionary effects on most ecosystem’s flora and fauna.
U.S wildfire losses during the past 10 years have totaled $5.1 billion, according to Verisk Analytics, a data-analytics provider that serves the insurance industry. About 4.5 million U.S homes are at high or extreme risk of wildfires because most of them reside in a nearby forest. As many as 90 percents of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans. Human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson.
However, wildfires have also resulted in natural causes. A fairly good number of wildfires are triggered by lightning. Researchers have out that lightning is a common trigger of most wildfire cases. A lightning strike can produce a spark and sometimes it can strike down power cables, trees, or rocks and any other things and this can trigger off a fire. The type of lightning associated with wildfires is known as hot lightning. It has fewer voltage currents but strikes repeatedly for a longer period.
On the other hand, volcanic eruptions could also cause wildfire when the hot magma in the earth’s crusts started to flow as lava during a volcanic eruption. Any ecosystem around an erupting volcano is at risk and it will eventually destroy anything down to its path.
The Forests Are Heating Up
In the latest report by Science Daily, they mentioned that as the world begins to slowly heat up, more forests will be at risk of wildfire. Climate could be the primary driver of wildfire risks. The warmer temperature in the summer and associated drier conditions desiccate plant materials and create more vegetation litter, providing more fuel for these fires. Several studies have linked the increase of wildfires with climate change in various parts of the world such as North America and Southern Europe.
In return, wildfires are also affecting the condition of climate change. Wildfires emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that will continue to warm the planet well into the future. They damage the forests that would otherwise remove carbon dioxide from the air and they inject soot and other aerosols into the atmosphere, with complex effects on warming and cooling.
Fires leave burned areas susceptible to erosion, flooding, mudslides, and landslides. It also destroys the habitat of plants and animals. Floods, as well as debris and sediment resulting from fires, can contaminate water supplies. Forest fires also affect the lives of the people who are living near the forests. In a web post by The Conversation, they mentioned that minority groups like black, Hispanic or Native Americans are more at risk to wildfire casualties than other communities in the US.
Climate Change, It’s Time to Act
The effects of short-lived climate pollutants represent a major development issue that calls for quick and significant global action. Delayed efforts to mitigate either carbon dioxide or short-lived climate pollutant emissions will have negative, and potentially irreversible, consequences for global warming, rising sea levels, agricultural yields, and public health.
National governments are passing fossil fuel cap-and-trade laws. In Germany, mile after mile of solar panel arrays flank freeways. In Amsterdam, bicycling is not just a sport. It’s also a free, healthful, and environmentally friendly means of commuting to work. In the United States, many individuals, corporations and local governments are taking positive steps to reduce the carbon footprint.
As individuals, people can help by taking action in reducing their personal carbon emissions. But to fully address the threat of global warming, people must demand action from their elected leaders in order to gain support and implement a comprehensive set of climate solutions. One example is by expanding the use of renewable energy and transform the energy system into a cleaner and less coal-dependent and other fossil fuels.
Efficiency standards for dozens of appliances and products have kept 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the air. That’s about the same amount as the annual carbon pollution coughed up by nearly 440 million cars. Also, saving water reduces carbon pollution too. That’s because it takes a lot of energy to pump, heat, and treat the water that most people consume all over the world.
Choosing to live in walkable smart-growth cities and towns with quality public transportation leads to less driving, less money spent on fuel, and less pollution in the air. Less frequent flying can make a big difference too since air transport is a major source of climate pollution and experts say that it would be better if more people use trains than airplanes.
|The use of renewable energy instead of fossil fuels can lessen the emission of carbon dioxide / Photo by Getty Images|