Havana, Sep 19.- The devastating fires that burned millions of acres in the western United States once again sounded the alarms about environmental degradation and the need for changes in forest management.
Since mid-August, more than a hundred fires have struck states such as California, Oregon and Washington, where nearly 40 people lost their lives, tens of thousands of residents were forced from their homes and thousands of buildings were converted into ashes.
In the midst of this bleak outlook, climate change is pointed out by numerous sources as the main cause that forest losses have ever greater dimensions, and local and state authorities stress the need to implement more actions to confront this phenomenon.
This is a damn climate emergency, this is real and it is happening, said California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who criticized the administration of Republican Donald Trump for promoting policies that reduce environmental protections.
It is precisely that western state that is the hardest hit by the fires, which have already burned 3.5 million acres (14,000 square kilometers) and killed at least 25 people.
Climate change, in the words of a scientist, is hitting California in the face, said an article in The New York Times, which stressed that the crisis in the most populated territory of the United States is more than a simple accumulation of individual catastrophes.
What happened in California, the text pointed out, is an example of something that has worried climate experts for a long time, but that few expected to see so soon: a waterfall effect, in which a series of disasters overlap, unleashing or amplifying each other.
Meanwhile, in Oregon the flames burned almost a million acres (four thousand square kilometers) and left a dozen fatalities; while in Washington state they covered 600,000 acres (2,400 square kilometers).
Climate scientists cited by the Times said that the mechanism driving the wildfire crisis is simple: Human behavior, primarily burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil, releases greenhouse gases that increase temperatures, dry out the forests and prepare them to burn.
Wildfires have always been a part of life on the West Coast, particularly in places where urban areas and forests adjoin each other and the inland climate is arid.
"But warmer temperatures and drier conditions, caused by climate change, have made the wildfire season longer and more intense, with increasingly devastating consequences," said an article on NBC News television.
The science is very clear that there is a direct link between warming and more burning. If we don't take science seriously, we are essentially putting lives and homes at tremendous risk, Jennifer Balch, an associate professor of geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told that outlet.
Meanwhile, various sources warn about the need for fires not to become a politicized and partisan issue, and call for understanding that both confronting climate change and better forest management are necessary to prevent them. (Text and photo: PL)