The science could not be clearer. The burning of fossil fuels is making the Earth hotter. That makes trees and other vegetation drier. And those conditions make wildfires start more easily, burn hotter, and spread faster. These hot, dry conditions increase the likelihood that wildfires will be more intense and burn longer, making them harder to put out.
Highly detrimental to the environment, people’s health and livelihoods, wildfires are destroying forests, agriculture, and communities. Accelerating in their devastation year after year, by mid-September, 2020, five of the 10 largest wildfires in California’s history – including THE largest ever – had happened. 79 large wildfires were still actively burning in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming leveling acreage the size of New Jersey, with one in every 33 acres burned in the state of California. In Oregon, ten percent of the population had been evacuated and critical populations of endangered species and native habitats incinerated. It is questionable whether they will ever recover. Unimaginably, the smoke travelled 3,000 miles to Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland and over the Atlantic.
Extraordinary photographs were published in the New York Times on September 10, 2020.