Dear 2017: Good Riddance.

The Thomas Fire in Southern California. Photo Credit: Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department

I can’t say I’m sad to say goodbye to 2017. This year in many ways was truly devastating from a climate change perspective. For those who doubted that climate change was indeed upon us, the reality now couldn’t be starker.

Experts say that the record-breaking wildfires raging near Los Angeles right now are not a coincidence.

Yes, 2017 was like no other year before it in shattering records for climate change-induced disasters like super hurricanes, floods, ultra-heavy rains - and now devastating wildfires burning hundreds of thousands of acres in Southern California.

The Western fire season is now 105 days longer than in 1970.

Experts say that the record-breaking wildfires raging near Los Angeles right now are not a coincidence. They didn’t just remarkably start burning in the same year as the most expensive hurricane season on record. They didn’t displace 90,000 people in Southern California by chance in the same year as we added new colors on our precipitation map for the heavy rain that fell with Hurricane Harvey. No, experts say the effects of climate change, including drought-like conditions, higher temperatures, and abundant fuel for burning, are clearly evident.

The Facts (2016 Climate Central Report):

  • The Western fire season is now 105 days longer than in 1970
  • The amount of acres burned and the number of large wildfires has increased between 300 and 600 percent

These numbers are staggering and the climate impact landscape is evolving quickly - so quickly that many teachers are left without classroom lessons that include the latest climate impacts. That’s why earlier this year, we created a rapid response plan, Analyzing the Rise of US Wildfires, that goes along with some of our award-winning video content from Our Climate Our Future, a streamable multimedia climate education experience that we provide to the more than 10,000 teachers currently in the ACE network.

Especially in communities being ravaged by wildfires, young people have a right to know what’s causing this devastation - and an opportunity to get involved with the movement to try to stop it.

Leah Qusba

Leah joined ACE in 2009 and is currently serving as Deputy Director. She brings with her more than 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector as a relationship-builder, communicator and strategic problem solver. She manages ACE’s program, communications, media and marketing strategy.