98,392 acres burned. 6,190 recorded incidents. 732 buildings destroyed. 3 people killed.
The California wildfires have been in the headlines for a long time now—long enough for them to become a normal occurrence.
But this isn’t normal. Something is definitely wrong, but what is it exactly?
The term “wildfires” is something that many Californians associate with a negative connotation and the pristine image of Smokey Bear, delivering his token slogan,
Only you can prevent wildfires
And while it is important that people don’t leave their fires burning on a campsite, they aren’t always all bad.
Wildfires are a natural occurrence that happen in order to clear the land of old, dead plants and make way for new life and vegetation. Consider it the rebirth of a forest. These fires are important to ensuring that ecosystems are revitalized and remain healthy for years to come.
But humans have changed that idea.
Ever since the beginning of modern building and expansion across California, residents have become more and more concerned about people’s and animals’ safety when it comes to wildfires. “Fires burn down animal homes. Where will the squirrels live? There will be less trees, and less trees is bad!”
Is it really though?
Because humans have continually piled these concerns over the years, they have also decided to make detrimental mistakes. People started to stop wildfires from spreading. They put them out with water. They ensure that the forest can not and will not burn. But what happens for generations to come is worse.
Trees start drying out, not being revived via wildfires that replant their seeds. This is a huge problem. Now with dry, easily-flammable trees, forests have become susceptible to massive, rapid-spreading fires. People are terrified of these fires and the buildings, forests, and sometimes people that they are destroying. But what many fail to understand is that past human actions are the root of this problem anyways.
Wildfires will always be natural occurrences, but human interference had changed nature for the worse.
Nature is finally retaliating with unrelenting wildfires—big, strong, yet natural—wildfires.
Annika Garza is a high school junior living in a small city of Northern California with her family. She is a part of her school's robotics team and serves as the Chief of Communications Officer for her team. In addition to AP and honors classes, Annika is enrolled in the engineering pathway at her school and hopes to become an engineer in the future. While she doesn't know specifically what she wants to major in, her interests lie in fields that involve biology or the environment. With the Ecolibrium Project, Annika hopes to not only bring awareness to the deteriorating environment, but she also wants to make a change by starting small in her local community and build from there.