If you’ve ever built a campfire, you know that dry materials are easier to burn. They also burn much quicker, meaning you can run out of wood, leaves, or whatever else you’re using too fast.
For wildfires, that same concept is multiplied to a much bigger scale. A large, dry forest can burn quickly. Drought conditions can make matters even worse, with the fire can spread quickly from one source to another as fast as the wind can take it.
Here, we’ll go over what you need to know about how drought conditions impact wildfire risks and what you can do to mitigate the risks in your area. Wildfire risks are only growing with climate change and climbing temperatures occurring around the world. Being prepared and doing what you can to reduce the likelihood of wildfires is often the best and only way to prevent catastrophe from striking.
Droughts and Wildfires
It’s a scientific fact that many people try to dispute, but numbers don’t lie. Global temperatures are rising. No matter where you live, chances are that you’ve experienced some of the area’s hottest summers and winters on record.
With these, higher temperatures come less rainfall and drier ground conditions. Trees, shrubbery, grass, and underbrush are all much more flammable due to the lack of moisture. When they do catch fire, they spread it fast and hard, often dramatically increasing the area that the wildfire will engulf.
Drier conditions can lead to more than just a dry bush or two. When the season has unusually low precipitation or snowpack, the area can experience smaller bodies of water, decreased water dispersion, dry soils, and tree death at a much larger scale than normal. All of these conditions can impact the likelihood, and severity, of a wildfire.
Although wildfires are an essential part of many different ecosystems’ lifecycles, they’re frequently happening in places that they shouldn’t be. Climate change is a driving force behind this increase, but unsustainable forestry practices also bear much of the blame.
What Can We Do to Combat Wildfires?
Preventing every single wildfire should not be the goal of any environmentalists. Wildfires are an essential part of the lifecycle and provide the nutrients needed for new growth and environmental reawakening.
However, wildfires can threaten the homes and environments of the people and animals who inhabit an area and various species of plants and trees. We should do everything we can to prevent unneeded and dangerous wildfires from spreading.
The best way to combat wildfires is prevention. Once a wildfire has started, it is extremely hard, even impossible, to put out. Even with our advanced technologies, wildfires can’t be matched or put down without tremendous resource expenditure, often putting many lives at risk in the process.
There are a few things that you and your local government can do to prevent unwanted wildfires. One practice, known as stand thinning, is essentially the process of reducing the density of trees in an area. This can help reduce the likelihood that a fire can spread from one tree to another.
Another method, known as controlled or prescribed burning, is increasingly looked at as a viable way to control the spread of wildfires. Native tribes around the world practiced this, and our modern governments are only just catching up to the logic. At its core, it involves burning specific areas of a forest or other biome in an attempt to prevent a wildfire from spreading beyond those points.
However, the best way to reduce the severity and likelihood of wildfires is to engage in the democratic process and push for change in environmental regulations. Climate change needs to be addressed, and governments aren’t doing enough to regulate and combat the responsible entities. Vote for representatives with a realistic view on climate change, and force them to change how our society thinks about drought and wildfires in the future.