When we think of human-induced climate change, we immediately picture melting polar ice caps, resulting in floods that swallow cities and outlying islands whole. Movies like “Waterworld” depict the chaotic destruction of our world through jarring illustrations of the havoc increased sea levels can reap on mankind. However, the silent danger that oftentimes remains unmentioned is forest fires, expanded on by Tatiana Schlossberg in her piece about the dangers of wildfires. These almost unstoppable, sweeping forces of nature blow through towns, causing high death tolls, extreme costs, and displacement of families, and not to mention, the decimation of wildlife habitats.  A study proposed by Columbia University and the University of Idaho in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have used “fuel aridity”, also known as the dryness of the climate and forests, to measure the role of anthropogenic factors in the severity of forest fires. The higher temperatures and prolonged droughts lead to a very flammable forest undergrowth and additional warm air means an increase in moisture drawn from trees and therefore, more kindling; all of which is supported in their study provided. Also, the implementation of heavily enforced fire suppression techniques does not let minor forest fires burn through this layer of kindling, leading to a more intense, inevitable fire. Its importance is evident; Many lives are lost and great amounts of money are allocated towards extinguishing fires when it would likely be of better use for prevention techniques, such as prescribing forest fires to eliminate accumulation of undergrowth. Carbon dioxide is also released through forest fires, causing further buildup in the atmosphere, increasing global temperatures and therefore promoting a surplus of different catastrophic events that are fueled by climate change. It seems as though mankind’s demise can be credited to humans themselves, and that is the real complex implication of the Anthropocene.

 

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