Wildfire continues to wreak havoc in California, and already generated more than 91 million metric tons of CO2, which negated past carbon reduction efforts. The carbon dioxide emissions produced by this month’s recent wildfire had actually measured 25% more than the state’s yearly carbon footprint from fossil fuelconsumptions.
California aims to bring down the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% come 2030 as the main goal of the state’s various climate change mitigation actions. Yet annually, the region struggles with the occurrences of wildfires during longer, more flammable fire seasons that produce more CO2.
How Wildfires Impact California’s Climate Actions
Here’s the thing — records show that nearly 90% of wildfires in California were human instigated as in the case of the recent El Dorado wildfires. The amount of CO2 emitted by those wildfires will then accelerate the conditions that make California’s ecosystems more flammable.
Jennifer Balch, a fire scientist at the University of Colorado said Californians are living in flammable spaces, whilst providing the igniters that start wildfires against a backdrop of warming climate conditions that cause wildfires to worsen.
Apparently, the region is already caught in a loop since the cycle continues. California wildfires are getting more serious and frequent each year, setting the stage for more CO2 emissions that will worsen the warming climate conditions.
As of this writing and 18 days after the El Dorado fire started, firefighters in Los Angeles are still trying to contain the Bobcat Fire that had spread aggressively in the Angeles National Forrest; making it the largest wildfire in the history of Los Angeles County.
How Does Climate Change Make Forest Ecosystems More Flammable?
Warmer climate results to drier and warmer conditions that lead to drought and prolonged seasons of susceptibility to wildfires. Faulty land use and inadequate forest management are factors that heighten wildfire risks.
As dry seasons become warmer, organic matters that serve as forest fuels become drier, which makes fire sparks caused by lightning or human negligence, enable wildfires to spread faster and stronger. Add to those the trees weakened and left hollow by invasive mountain insects like pine beetles that thrive on warm conditions. Albeit still standing, the dried up condition of those trees turned them into flammable materials that tend to build up in forests.
Apparently, efforts at reducing CO2 emissions in California should also focus on managing and reducing the forest fuels that make fire seasons result in deadlier and more destructive wildfires.