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Trouble in Paradise

The+Island+of+Maui+before+the+fire+taken+by+an+Hawaii+Guide.+
John C. Derrick
The Island of Maui before the fire taken by an Hawaii Guide.

On the morning of August 8th, large blazing wildfires in Lahaina, Maui caused death and destruction to most of the town. The large flames killed tons and forced a mass evacuation of the area.  The narrative of many news sources has been that the fires were caused by bad atmospheric conditions mixed with a storm with nothing truly transformative to look into. This instance is one of many due to climate change and its inherent effects on the way we live and operate going forward. 

What is climate change? Climate change is when shifts in temperature and weather patterns occur, caused primarily by humans. Temperatures rise caused by the sun’s heat being trapped, which is a result of people burning things like gas and oil that form greenhouse gas emissions.

Colonial Forge science teacher Mr. Heller describes how environmental conditions due to climate change caused the fire. He’s been teaching for 24 years and has actually been to Lahaina, Maui. 

“Climate change just makes it [the environment] hotter, and if it’s hotter there’s more evaporation, and if there’s more evaporation then it’s drier, mixing that with the wood and winds creates the perfect setup for that [the fire]. The storm was stronger because of climate change, it was drier, it was hotter because of climate change, so it all conspired together which led to the big fiasco,” Heller said.

We’re ignorant because climate change is a result of our actions, and daily activities like driving are a major source of the problem. Climate change and global warming are genuine problems that lead to issues such as excessive heat and extreme weather. The ozone layer is meant to absorb the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation.  We were able to help slowly restore the ozone layer starting in 1989 via the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer.

The protocol called for the phasing out of ozone-depleting chemicals such as CFCs. CFCs are chlorofluorocarbons, which are used in the manufacture of aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams, and packing materials. They harm the ozone by their release of chlorine. Unfortunately, there is really no stopping climate change or preventing it. The best society can do is slow it down or reverse some of the effects. Ultimately humans are at the forefront of the issue and whether it is minor or not can do something to help future generations. 

Climate change has become a bit more acknowledged but is still denied by large oil corporations such as ExxonMobil.  The financial incentive is a major driving force of the issue especially for companies against climate change.“More often than not, they[major corporations] aren’t gonna say climate change is real, because the product itself costs to function. Why would they say that? They’re gonna be prompted to say that it’s premature, or it’s cultural,” Heller said. 

The financial incentive has made corporations grift and spread propaganda about climate change, leading to the overall consensus on the issue shifting. Wildfires have become a normality in everyday society, being known in California as wildfire season. This describes the dry, hot, drought-affected climate seen in California from July to October. But climate change affects more than just the America’s.   In 2020 bushfires in Australia led to around eight hundred deaths, and just recently wildfires in the Island of Tenerife have been the central cause for evacuation. 

If those instances feel detached from your everyday life, a pile fire on Courthouse Road has taken the efforts of many in the fire department to extinguish.  Even though our actions might seem insignificant, it’s crucial to acknowledge their impact. Being mindful of the environment and advocating for change through conversations with lawmakers can contribute to a more sustainable future. “Yes, but what can we do? I mean, small actions. Sure. I mean, ultimately, it’s gonna come down to big decisions. Hey guys, we’ve got a global problem. It’s not just an American problem. This is a global problem.” Heller said

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About the Contributor
Limah Yaskey, World News Editor
Limah Yaskey is a junior and this is his second year working for the Forge Press. Beyond the paper, he has club soccer, plays his piano, and hangs out with friends.
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