Written by Ria Singh, a grade 6 student
Massive wildfires have been raging on the west coast of the United States. The situation is very severe as there are more than 90 major fires that have burned in 13 of the western states.
The wildfires – which are fires burning in forests – have caused toxic pollution and made the sky orange. Images and videos taken show disturbing conditions in major states like California, Oregon and Washington.
Air quality warnings have been issued throughout the Pacific Northwest, as people in some areas have experienced choking smoke. The smoke is so bad that it has completely blocked sunlight in some places. In the state of Oregon, about half a million people have been evacuated and more are leaving. Firefighters from around the United States have been called to help fight the huge blazes.
Heat, fires, and climate change
August is the hottest month in these areas and temperatures have been rising for the past few years. Climate change is causing a rise in extreme weather events. The fires were caused by extreme heat, which could be one of the effects of climate change.
The dry conditions have made the spread of fire easier. This is being called human-caused climate change – temperature extremes are now higher and the forests are drier, which affects fire behavior
The Western US has been ging thought severe heat waves. We wrote about the Death Valley temperatures (which is also in California) where temperatures reached 54.4C – one of the highest on the planet ever.
Since the 1970s, California wildfires have increased by eight times. Also, the area burned each year has increased by nearly 500%, according to CNN!
Scientists have warned that temperatures are now rising faster than at many other times. This is because of the greenhouse effect – which is a process that describes how our planet’s atmosphere traps some of the sun’s energy. This solar energy that goes back to space from the Earth’s surface is then absorbed by greenhouse gases, which then are re-emitted (sent) in different directions. If this didn’t happen then the Earth would have been too cold to live in.
But now what’s happening is that the gases that are being released from our earth (mainly from industries and agriculture) are trapping more energy and increasing the temperature.
This is what is called global warming or climate change. \
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