By Duke Staff
The images coming out of California leave a horrific impression. It looks like one is witnessing Armageddon or taking a peek into Dante’s mind when he envisioned Hell.
Since Nov. 8, California has been devastated by three incredibly destructive — and deadly — wildfires. The Camp Fire, located north of Sacramento, has killed 48 people and destroyed close to 9,000 buildings as of press time according to the New York Times. The fire is at 201 square miles and growing, which to put it into perspective, is 3.7 times the size of Pittsburgh, according to an NBC News graphic. It has been declared the most deadly and destructive wildfire in California’s history. The Woolsey Fire also started on Nov. 8, and has grown to 95,000 acres, burning the posh neighborhood of Malibu north of Los Angeles. A relatively smaller fire, the Hill Fire, burns nearby the Woolsey one.
These wildfires are just the latest flashing red warning light of the irrevocable damage being done to our planet from climate change. Just last month, the United Nations warned in a report that the world is 12 years away from crossing the 1.5 degrees Celcius of warming threshold that scientists warn will bring dramatic environmental destruction. As America and much of the world stands idly by, unmotivated to change, our situation will just get worse.
Record-breaking hurricanes, fires, floods, tornadoes and droughts will continue to occur at an ever-alarming rate. If nothing is done, these will continue to become evermore the norm. The perils of human-made climate change have long been ignored by most of the media, many politicians and a large number of the American people. Distractions like Trump Cabinet drama should seem insignificant next to an existential crisis, yet it dominates our discourse.
For some reason, climate change always seems to take a backseat to whatever else is driving the news cycle. It is difficult to filter through all of the articles and hot takes in our feeds on a day-to-day basis, and while what is happening at the government level in our country needs to be paid attention to and addressed, all of that will end up being futile if we can’t preserve our planet.
Our priorities have to refocus to the environmental and human tragedies in California and across the globe. Europe faced a record-setting heat wave this past summer, where according to the Guardian, there were wildfires above the Arctic Circle in July. In February 2018, cities in the Mid-Atlantic and New England saw the temperature rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Weather Channel. These bizarre events are canaries in the coal mine, warning us of the dangers humanity has caused.
The terror in California should serve as a motivator to start paying attention to the climate crisis. Join or donate to organizations like the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council. To assist the victims in California, there is the American Red Cross, the California Community Foundation’s Wildlife Relief Fund, the California Fire Foundation and so many others. Or if you can’t donate, put pressure on your local, state and national politicians to back solutions to eliminate the danger. Just do something, before it’s too late.