Final Paper - Global Climate Change
To the office of the Governor of the State of California;
Allow me to start by introducing myself. My name is Steven Feldman, world renowned climate researcher. I write to you today to renew my call for an overhaul of our current wildfire management system. As our climate warms, instances of forest fires will increase, and changes to our current system will be needed to handle them. I have gathered evidence to display for you a disturbing trend in the number of wildfires occurring within your own state.
My proposal to you will take a three-pronged approach. First I will divulge my own research proving these rising trends. This will include how our climate is changing and how it is affecting fires in the state. Second, flaws within our current system of fire management will be brought to light. Third, I will propose to you my solution to these issues. This will entail what should be changed, how we can go about implementing these new ideas, and the economic impacts they will have.
Before we begin, I would like to make one thing clear. I do not believe current policies are broken. They are as efficient for fire containment as any. The changes I will recommend are preemptive actions needed to combat fires of higher intensities and higher frequency. Over the last 50 years, there is a noticeable forest fire trend in the state of California: they are on the increase (California). The charts I have compiled on the next page illustrate this point best, so please study them carefully:
The data above is very clear: fires are getting larger, and are occuring more frequently. This brings up the next question: why is this occuring? One theory is an increase in temperatures. Obviously if temperatures within California are on the increase, our forests will also become warmer. Since heat evaporates moisture, this will have the consequence of dryer (and more fire-friendly) forests. This is especially prevelant in the desert-dominated south, where our forests are already extremely dry. They could potentially continue to dry out and become an even larger fire risk than they are today. It is no secret that temperatures worldwide are increasing. It is one of the hot topics of the day. Do these trends also apply to California? All current evidence suggests yes, they do. As noted by the following graph (Desert Research Institute), there is a clear warming trend throughout the entire state. These are facts that must be taken into account, as these trends are likely to continue into the future:
As stated, the main danger of a temperature increase, in relation to wildfires, comes from the drying-out effect this would have on our forests. So what about precipitation? How has climate change affected rainfall across the state? As we will observe, unfortunately there is no definite conclusion on that. Rainfall rates rise and fall at variable intervals, going all the way back to 1880. While there is a bit of a decrease, it is far too small a change to concern ourselves with, as we can see with the following chart:
While there is no ascertainable decrease in precipitation, this is no reason to celebrate. The last 10 years do show a dramatic decrease in rainfall, coupled with the larger rate of temperature increase occurring at the same time. While it is not unforeseeable that rainfall rates will increase over the next decade or so (as they have in the past), for now we have a forest situation that is dryer than ever. Would one not agree, governor, that this is something that deserves our attention? This leads us to what is arguably the single largest problem with wildfires today – human interaction. Many of the largest wildfires today are spawned by human activity, whether accidental or intentional. A great example of a human-caused wildfire is the Great Black Dragon Fire (Salisbury) that occurred along the Chinese/Russian border in the Black Dragon forest. A forest worker in...
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