We’ve heard so much about the awful hurricanes on the East Coast, but the West Coast has been in crisis too, with far more forest fires than usual. Although mostly only our precious wildlife and forests died, there was still great danger. For months this summer, an ever pervasive blanket of smoke covered most of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California, making it difficult for many to breath and filling the hospitals with people who already had breathing problems. Next year, it is likely to be even worse.
We actually had a lovely summer in the Pacific Northwest, visiting with family and friends and enjoying lots of unusually warm weather and very little rain. However, we were among the fortunate ones. While the East Coast dealt with hurricanes, the West Coast forests were on fire and smoke covered the west. Although we visited areas where smoke was eventually very heavy, we were long gone by then and in more secluded areas before that happened.
However, no one in Washington or Oregon, Idaho or Northern California could avoid the smoke completely. It was everywhere. Even in our secluded area, we saw the sky turn murky and the sun become a dull orange ball. I cried when I read about the devastating fires turning places I'd known and loved for years into blackened trees. Even now, my eyes tear up as I type.
When the rains did finally came in September, we joined our neighbors in cheering and hoping they would be strong enough to put out the fires. In most cases, they weren't. The rains helped but many of the fires still rage, although they are all now partially contained. The word is that the larger fires won't be totally out until December!
So much more devastation this year because of the lack of rain leaving the forests overly dry and it is not predicted to get better.
A few numbers to consider:
- 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the annual average temperature increase since 1880.(Yes, the world is in a normal warming cycle, but it was very gradual until lately.)
- 0.17 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the average temperature increase between 1970 and 2017, over twice what it would be if it followed the above trend.
- An increase in yearly wildfires for the last 12 years, compared to the annual average from 1980 to 2000.
- 5 month fire season in the early 1970's.
- 7 month fire season in 2017, with twice the smoke, and more burned area.
I suspect a person could compile similar statistics about hurricanes and earthquakes and other natural disasters. I believe that they will all increase as our planet's protective covering is burned away by excess carbon emissions.
OK, I'll get down off my soapbox now and next week, I'll be back to talking about LBD. Thanks for allowing me to use this blog for something else that I feel strongly about.
Environmental Protection Agency