Oregon and Montana Forest Fire Widespread Destruction – What This Means for the Environment
It’s been an arduous process over the past few months trying to keep up with the news. It seems like either war is brewing, another city is flooding, or the White House is experiencing another round of turmoil. It’s easy to get discouraged, but don’t. Even as Hurricane Irma is stealing the news (especially for us on the East Coast), gigantic fires are raging all over the United States, even in places that rarely experience forest fires of this magnitude.
The events unfolding in Montana at the moment are being called an environmental crisis, and Governor Steve Bullock has declared it an emergency, as crews struggle to contain numerous patches of fire that have decimated half a million acres since July. Western Montana is literally being covered in a pall of smoke, with no visible relief in sight. People are being told to evacuate certain areas and take caution going outside in others, as the air quality has become so poor. The conditions over Montana have been particularly dry this year, and the temperatures are not helping anything. We’re seeing unprecedented rainfall in Texas while the western half of the country is still in a severe drought. Parts of California had relief from this earlier in the summer, but for the most part, much of Northern California, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana could do with some rain.
— Sara Fisher (@FlyfishMT406) September 5, 2017
The situation begs the question, is the climate in the NW finally changing permanently? The lush forests and generous precipitation that this region has enjoyed for thousands of years might be drawing to a close. These fires seem to be worsening every year, and keep in mind, that is with the full force of various agencies and groups fighting around the clock to contain the fires and put them out. Imagine what would be happening across these states without humanitarian and government aid? We may only be delaying the inevitable at this point. The landscape of the West seems determined to change.
Something similar is happening over in Oregon, as dozens of fires have been raging over the state for weeks, leaving fire control crews at a loss. The gorgeous area around Eagle Creek has almost completely burned up, with several areas having to be evacuated. Rumors are indicating that the fire near Eagle Creek began by human carelessness, such as a firework, though the conditions are ripe for disaster, as Oregon has not been getting its usual rainfall. With the sheer amount of different fires emerging over the past month, it’s impossible to attribute them all to human causes however. As we are seeing in Montana, the dry, windy conditions are forcing nature’s hand in a way we’ve never seen before. Hundreds of thousands of acres in Oregon have already burnt, and the situation is far from being contained.
— Christine Pitawanich (@CPitawanichKGW) September 4, 2017
The Problems we Face Must be Addressed
When people hear about these crisis situations, their response tends to be, “how can I donate to the victims,” but we all need to start doing more. It isn’t enough to try and clean these messes up with money after the fact. Irreparable harm is being dealt to our forests. Some of these places won’t recover for hundreds of years. Giant communities of wildlife, perfectly healthy trees that have been standing for generations, bustling towns, gone. All because we are choosing a lifestyle not in line with the flow of the planet. It’s hard to look at weather reporting right now. We have new “storms of the century” popping up every year, sweeping forest fires that are changing entire landscapes, some areas in severe drought while others flooded to the roof’s of houses, all while more pests spread and pest control animals like frogs and bats dwindle in number. You have to be extremely ignorant or willfully obtuse not to see the situation for what it is.
Want to do something for Montana and Oregon? That’s great, start with yourself. It’s easy to throw money at other people without looking in the mirror at our own life choices. We know why these events are unfolding all over the planet and only seem to get worse with each passing year. Climate extremes are becoming the norm, and that’s not a viable course for our species or the planet. Scientists agree on why this is occurring, there is no room for personal opinion in this matter. It’s time we demand more of ourselves and actually protect the world that sustains us. The best way we can do that is by living responsibly and getting the word out.
- Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of climate change. Improve your diet, period.
- Every piece of non-biodegradable material that ends up as litter eventually leeches chemicals into the soil and our drinking water.
- All harmful chemicals that end up in the rivers and oceans change the pH of the water, leading to widespread fish and coral death.
- Be mindful of the industries you support. Monitor their building materials and habits. Boycott when necessary.
- The destruction caused by the digging up of fossil fuels is not worth any and all “jobs” that it may create. Jobs do not outweigh the health of our planet. Not even close.
- Invest in clean energy and renewable resources whenever possible.
- Plant trees. This is an investment that can’t be put into words. The life of a tree means homes for numerous animals, food for others, stronger topsoil, and oxygen for all of us.
These are not complicated points, and they are well within your ability to undertake. Is helping the environment as easy as taking quicker showers or remembering not to use aerosol? Not quite – responsibility for the world around you means actively doing things that have a significant impact. Focus on changing the paradigm. How many more Hurricane Harvey’s and Montana blazes do we have to endure before we collectively say “enough”?
Your choices have real consequences. The people who died or lost their homes in the Texas flood need us to be better, wiser. The forests being engulfed in flames in the NW need us to be stronger, smarter. Get out there and start making a difference, not only for the planet, but for yourself and the people around you. Plant trees, eat healthy sustainable food, and spend your money on brands and companies that honor the Earth rather than dollar signs. Then maybe we’ll be able to go back to experiencing “storms of the century” once a century instead of several times a year.
Donate to victims of Montana fires.
Donate to victims of Eagle Creek.
Donate to victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Donate to support our national forests.
Watch Cowspiracy, learn that what you eat has an impact on the environment.