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Stella Glaubensklee

Atmo1010
Final Project
12/04/16
What is Causing the Increase of Fires in the United States?
Abstract: The increase of fires is dangerous to our earth and the beings living on the earth. In this
essay, we will learn why the amount of fires are increasing, what fires do to our environment and
the living organisms in the environment, and what the increase of fires is closely related to,
climate change. There will be a few graphs throughout the writing that will help illustrate my
findings and explain the information visually. The effects that will be explained (environment, air
quality, human beings etc.) are not just short term effects and may turn into long term fatal
effects.

There is scientific evidence that shows an increase of fires in the United States. The
amount of fires between 1970 and 1986 are less than the amount between 1986-2003 (Global
Warming and Wildfire Risk, UCSUSA). The amount of fires per year continues to rise. What is
causing this to occur? What effects does it have on our environment? Does this have an effect
across the United States? These are some of the questions that will be answered in the following
paragraphs.

The graph above can be found on southwestclimate.org and shows the increase of fires
over the years (1970-2000). The graph shows the wild fire frequency and temperature as well as
the timing of spring snowmelt. These extra factors help explain why there is an increase in fires.
The earlier the spring snowmelt, the more time the land has to be dry meaning there is an
increased risk of wildfires. The higher the temperature means the warmer the earth is which also
results in more fires. If you match up the two graphs and pretend to combine them into one
graph, you can see a clear pattern. There are more fires that occur the earlier the spring
snowmelt. There are more fires the warmer the temperature. Some may say this is a coincidence
and global warming is a Chinese hoax, but clearly there is evidence that supports the hypothesis.
If the world is warmer, then there will be more fires. If the spring snowmelt is early in the year,
then there will be more fires. Precipitation patterns also contribute to the frequency of fires. The
warmer the earth, more evaporation occurs meaning that there is a decrease in the amount of

moisture in the air. The amount of moisture in the air controls how much precipitation the earth
receives. A decrease of moisture in the air means the earth will receive less precipitation
(Changing Patterns, EPA.gov).

What contributes to climate change? Is there really a problem among the human race?
How much of a change has occurred over time? This graph above is a perfect display of global
surface temperature. It shows the pattern that the path is continuing over the years. This graph
shows the surface temperature from 1880 to 2000. This is a broad range and displays a clear
image of the increase of surface temperature. This is a problem. Climate change is a problem.
Climate change does not only affect the frequency of fires; it creates many other problems. These
problems include loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves
(Vital Signs, Climate.NASA). The problems listed are not the only issues that are effecting our

earth. This is the only earth we have, and I am not sure everyone has realized that fact. The effect
climate change has on the ocean and aquatic life is devastating. I have watched multiple
documentaries on how global warming is changing the aquatic population. Salmon are fish that
live in cold water temperatures ranging from 55-64 degrees Fahrenheit. As the earth is warming,
so is the water which effects salmon. Salmon have not yet adapted to the temperature change of
water and are dying because of the fact. Fires are affecting salmon by burning the roots of nearby
rivers which contribute to the rivers ecosystem (Salmon and Global Warming, NWF). Salmon
are only one of the many species that are being affected by fires and climate change; human are
one of them.

In Utah, we live in a valley which acts as a smoke collector. When a fire has been burning
or is currently burning, all the smoke is collected in the valley. Fortunately, we have technology
and people who monitor our air quality and who give us air quality ratings on the news. These
reports are more helpful to some people than others. Smoke is not good for any human being.
Smoke is made up of harmful gaseous particles. The particles can get into your eyes or lungs
which causes problems. Some symptoms from inhaling smoke include the following: burning
eyes, runny nose, and bronchitis. Some people are more at risk than others such as people with
lung/heart disease, older adults, and children. Children breathe more air (and air pollution) per
pound of body weight than adults; and theyre more likely to be active outdoors (How Smoke
from Fires Can Affect Your Health, Environmental Protection Agency). I remember days in
elementary school when certain students with asthma were not allowed to go to recess because of
the bad air quality. That student was always isolated and was an outsider and never really fit in. I
think this student would have been more social if he was able to go out and play with the other

students during recess. I remember that student being absent from school because he had been
admitted to the hospital for respiratory issues. Older people are always telling the younger
generation to go outside and play, but how if our air quality is dangerous to our health? We as
humans need to address the environmental issues that are occurring around us right before our
eyes. We need to do something about our air quality and about are continually warming earth. On
the air now website (www.airnow.gov) they explain how to protect yourself from the air
pollution. Some of these tips include use common sense (if it looks too smoky, it is probably not
the best time to go outside), if you are advised to stay indoors, do as you are told, and keep
particle levels inside lower (invest in an air purifier). This website also includes a helpful chart
for air quality. I also found some statistics on how many people die due to pollution related
problems and found the statistics to be astonishing. I focused mainly on outdoor air pollution
because fires pollute the air outside. 40% of the outdoor air pollution-caused deaths belong to
ischaemic heart disease, 40% stroke, 11% COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), 6%
lung cancer, and 3% acute lower respiratory infections in children (7 million premature deaths
annually linked to air pollution, World Health Organization). These numbers can be reduced if
we can reduce the amount of pollution in our air (decrease amount of driving, fires, and so much
more that contributes to air pollution).

The process to reduce the amount of fires can be done by following a cycle. Throughout
this paper we have learned that the risk of fires has increased due to global warming. To reduce
the risk of fires we must slow down the warming of the earth. To slow down the warming of the
earth we must reduce driving and instead, carpool; buy efficient products; conserve energy; plant
trees; reduce, reuse, recycle; trim your waste; and increase carbon taxes (10 ways you can stop

climate change, David Suzuki). It is important to follow these tips to save our planet. By
following these tips, we will also be able to reduce the amount of fires. By being able to reduce
the amount of fires we will be able to reduce the amount of pollution in the air, reduce the
amount of pollution in the water, help the aquatic life, and help the human race continue to live
comfortably and healthy lives. For more information on what you can do to help out, visit:
https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-you-can-stop-global-warming.

Works Cited
"7 Million Premature Deaths Annually Linked to Air Pollution." WHO. World Health
Organization, n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
"Changing Rain and Show Patterns." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 27 Nov.
2016.
"Consequences of Climate Change." Global Climate Change NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 27 Nov.
2016.

Global Surface Temperature. N.d. NASA. Earth Is Cooling... No It's Warming. NASA. Web. 27
Nov. 2016.
"How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health." How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your
Health. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
"How You Can Stop Global Warming." NRDC. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
"Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks?" Union of Concerned Scientists. N.p., n.d.
Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
@nwf. "Salmon and Global Warming - National Wildlife Federation." National Wildlife
Federation. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
Suzuki, David. "Top 10 Ways You Can Stop Climate Change." David Suzuki Foundation. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
Western US Forest Wildfires and Spring-Summer Temperature. N.d. Southwest Climate Change.
Southwest Climate Change Network. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.