The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Devastating Wildfires Are Even Changing the Appearance of the Moon
This wildfire season has burned 7.8 million acres to date, an area larger than the state of Massachusetts. In Alaska alone, 5.1 million acres have burned. Washington has officially had its most destructive wildfire season on record, including its largest wildfire in state history.
"Even if all the fires went out across the West tomorrow, this year would still rank as the seventh-most destructive wildfire season in terms of acres burned," reports Climate Central. And there is still at least another month to go to see if experts were right in predicting 2015 will top 2006 as the worst wildfire season on record.
Smoke from the wildfires has been seen from space and has even drifted as far east as the Atlantic Ocean. Large stretches of the U.S. are experiencing persistently hazy skies with serious health impacts and the smoke is even altering the moon's appearance. "Heavy smoke from forest fires in Washington, California and Montana has now spread to cover nearly half the country in a smoky pall, soaking up starlight and muting the moonlight," says Universe Today.
If there is a silver lining to the fires, it's that the sunrises, sunsets and the moon have looked spectacular in recent days because of the fires. But, of course, there are so many harms to human health and to the environment.
"Forest fire smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and soot," says Universe Today. "On especially smoky days, you can even smell the odor of burning trees in the air at ground level. Some may suffer from burning eyes, asthma or bronchitis on especially smoky days even a thousand miles from the source fires."
— Jeremy Cohn (@JeremyGlobalTV) September 1, 2015
Blood Moon. - the deepest red I have ever seen. Eerie for the last night of meteorological summer. Fergus, Ontario pic.twitter.com/jzTJBvk8ko
— Dave Patrick (@wwxchaser) September 1, 2015
And this is only a sign of what's to come as the West gets hotter and drier, according to an updated analysis from Climate Central. Large wildfires—defined as those 1,000 acres or bigger—have been on the rise since the 1970s.
The team's analysis of U.S. Forest Service data through 2014 shows that large fires are 3.5 times more common now than they were in the 1970s. They also burn seven times more acreage in an average year.
It's even more severe for the Northern Rockies. Large wildfires are now 10 times more common than they used to be and the area burned is up to 45 times greater in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Cathy Brown
Most of us have heard about UN researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.
Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.
Scotland produced enough power from wind turbines in the first half of 2019, that it could power Scotland twice over. Put another way, it's enough energy to power all of Scotland and most of Northern England, according to the BBC — an impressive step for the United Kingdom, which pledged to be carbon neutral in 30 years.
By Jessica A. Knoblauch
It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.
tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Rachel Licker
As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.