After the recent fires that ravaged through California Wine Country, many have wondered about the causation of this disaster. Destroying nearly 7,000 buildings, evacuating 90,000, and killing 42 people, the fires have been named the most destructive in state history and costliest in United States history with 200,000 acres burned. The most affected city is Santa Rosa, with several of its most populous neighborhoods being burned to complete ash. When it first happened, it seemed as if it came out of nowhere but in reality these fires were just waiting to happen.
There were a number of factors that made this area especially vulnerable to wildfires and climate change is a big part of that. It’s common knowledge that until this past winter, California had been suffering from a major drought for around seven years. Santa Rosa’s 2017 winter had the highest rainfall total since records began in 1902, which was great news in terms of the seemingly never-ending drought. A plethora of plant life resulted from this and the area was lively and green again. Following the wettest winter on record was the hottest summer in state history, turning all the new and fresh vegetation into dry tinder, making the area extremely susceptible to wildfires, allowing a lot of room for destruction.
The night the fire started, there were winds as high as 70mph, which caused the fire to spread very rapidly and uncontrollably. The fire might still have occurred at a lesser degree regardless of this change in weather, but that certainly made it into the national tragedy that it is, making this disaster yet another effect of climate change. This acts as another wake-up-call that we need to start focusing more on climate change and the effects it has on our earth, or else instances like the Wine Country fires will become a common occurrence. Now is a great time to stand up and take action to change the fate of our planet before it’s too late.