by Caroline Johnston
Droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, heat waves, floods, and storms more extreme than ever have characterized the past few years. Hundreds of thousands of people and animals face displacement and trauma, their homes destroyed and their loved ones dead. Climate change caused the heightened occurrences of these disasters.
Californians have a lot of experience with wildfires, so many Las Lomas students can relate to the hardships these fires cause. Wildfires occur so frequently because increased atmospheric temperatures, thanks to greater greenhouse gas emissions, create more intense droughts, creating drier forests, making forests more susceptible to rapidly spreading fires. Wildfires create a chain reaction of harmful disasters. Burning trees release carbon into the atmosphere, furthering the effect. Forest fires also cause deforestation, creating flooding when combined with heavy rains. When there are no trees to ease the runoff, more devastating floods occur, wiping out homes and other structures.
An increase of the atmospheric temperature warms the sea surface, melts glaciers, and causes sea levels to rise. Warmer ocean temperatures, along with uniform wind patterns, can cause hurricanes and other tropical storms to happen more frequently or more powerfully.
Large natural disasters have not impacted the majority of Las Lomas students, and natural disasters impact some areas more than others. Senior Mia Portner states that, “Usually cities with more money have better ways of dealing with natural disasters and better ways of keeping people safe.” Walnut Creek is a wealthy city, meaning that we can afford to take certain measures to avoid and prevent natural disasters and to combat climate change. In April 2012, the city of Walnut Creek set forward an official Climate Action plan which provided, “a roadmap to achieving the City’s greenhouse gas reduction target of 15 percent by 2020”(City of Walnut Creek-Climate Action Plan). Many countries and states, however, have not made any contributions to stopping climate change and saving the Earth, so it is important that the people who can put in extra work, do, to make up for where others lack, because what’s best for the planet is what’s best for us.