In November 2018, the deadliest wildfire in California struck the town of Paradise in Northern California. The Camp Fire destroyed 11,000 homes and, one year later, only 11 were rebuilt. According to NPR, cleanup crews removed twice as much debris as what was left of the Twin Towers after Sept. 11.
This is not the only wildfire that has devastated and displaced California residents. Wildfires are aggravated by the heat waves our state has faced. Wildfire acreage has slowly increased over the past few decades because of warmer temperatures, according to the EPA and Cal Fire. It is likely you already have an opinion about these realities and climate change’s role in them, but how often do we do the research before we form our opinions? I urge readers to educate themselves on the issue, take it seriously and not be afraid to have conversations about climate change.
I am an undergraduate student in environmental science and a fellow with Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. I care about climate change because it impacts people, not just the planet. Many indirect results of climate change directly affect our neighbors as they face the challenges of displacement. Responding to the causes of these frequent worldwide episodes matters to me because the Bible promotes caring for creation and for people. As a young person in America, I see that my generation, like each one before and after it, is capable of identifying issues and finding innovative solutions to address them. This gets me excited for the future and the ways we can work together to reverse climate change and set in place a tenable, efficient lifestyle that future generations may carry on and improve.
There is a lot out there being said pointedly on social media and cable news about climate change, but not as much being said in our day-to-day conversations. Let’s educate ourselves on this important issue, so we can discuss it together with knowledge and respect. Let’s do the work of finding information not on Twitter, but through peer-reviewed or otherwise trustworthy sources. Let’s find common threads backed by multiple sources and try to understand the subject better. It may lead us to vote with the climate in mind, or support sustainability in our communities. If nothing else, we will at least be better qualified to think through these issues and have helpful conversations about them. We will be doing ourselves a favor in self-educating. There is nothing to lose in spending time with a topic that is more prevalent and politically confused than ever.
It may be overwhelming but start learning locally. What impacts have climate change had on you? In Southern California we tend to complain daily, in the summer especially, about the heat and how we feel it gets hotter every year. In fall 2019 alone, many brush fires fueled by Santa Ana winds forced evacuations, including a couple that were very close to home, the Tick Fire and the Saddleridge Fire. Rolling blackouts are yet another unfortunate response to the intense heat in California. Climate change is local as well as distant, and while it may be gradual, it is still present.
These are some local effects of climate change, but what of local solutions? There are steps we can take here in Santa Clarita, including supporting policies that reduce carbon pollution and support green jobs. According to a press release this year, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (which presents action plans to Congress) included two of Rep. Tony Cárdenas’ bills. One of his bills introduced a bipartisan act to improve recycling infrastructure and the other introduced an act to help states interested in developing net metering programs. These are just some of the local impacts and responses to climate change, but I hope it inspires interest to learn more.
There are many resources to learn more about climate change. There are many ways to get excited about looking forward to a better future. And there are many reasons why it is essential and worthwhile. We have a chance and a choice to care for the Earth and for other people. Let’s take it together.