Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Megafires, Record Heat and Drought: How Climate Change is Affecting the Southwest

Climate
Megafires, Record Heat and Drought: How Climate Change is Affecting the Southwest

EcoWatch

Huge and devastating wildfires are currently ravaging large expanses of the southwestern U.S. As the Guardian reports, low intensity wildfires have always been part of the landscape of the southwest, but a study by fire scientists last month "charted a disturbing new trend of large and devastating fires, consuming record areas of land and burning for weeks."

These "megafires" have become a regular summer occurrence in the southwest "because of drought, climate change and human interference with the natural landscape," according to the Guardian. New Mexico, for example, is currently experiencing the biggest fire in state history. The fire, which started at the Whitewater-Baldy complex in the southwestern part of the state, currently covers an area of 337 square miles.

There are also currently large wildfires burning in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. Last summer was a record setting fire season in Texas and Arizona and there are fears this year will be even worse, with the wildfire season having already started early.

Among other factors, the wildfires are a result of the region experiencing record-setting heat and drought. Last summer Oklahoma recorded the highest ever average summer temperature in U.S. history, narrowly edging out Texas's average temperature for that same summer.

The severe heat and drought in the southwest comes in light of reports detailing how climate change has led to increases in the frequency and severity of heat waves. According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion and other human activities is the number one greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. NOAA released a startling report just last week which stated that for the first time ever the parts per million (ppm) concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a NOAA monitoring station in Barrow, Alaska reached 400, far past the acknowledged safe limit of 350 ppm. This is the first time the 400 ppm threshold has been crossed as a monthly average at a remote location.

 Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

 

Colette Pichon Battle, attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Colette Pichon Battle

By Karen L. Smith-Janssen

Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A palm tree plantation in Malaysia. Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Getty Images Plus

Between 2000 and 2013, Earth lost an area of undisturbed ecosystems roughly the size of Mexico.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A home burns during the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills, California on September 18, 2020. Kyle Grillot / AFP/ Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."

Read More Show Less
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world. PickPik

A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.

Read More Show Less
The label of one of the recalled thyroid medications. FDA

If you are taking medication for an underactive thyroid, check your prescription.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch