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Thousands of residents ordered to flee homes as volatile wildfire threatens town: 'Extremely concerning'

This wildfire underscores the very real threats posed by climate change.

This wildfire underscores the very real threats posed by climate change.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Thousands of residents in British Columbia, Canada, have been forced to evacuate as a fast-moving wildfire threatens a nearby town. This incident is a stark reminder of the increasing danger of extreme weather events, intensified by climate change.

What's happening?

The out-of-control Parker Lake wildfire, which began on May 10, has increased, more than doubling in size and reaching the larger Fort Nelson area. Authorities have warned residents of "extremely concerning" air quality because of heavy smoke and urged those who haven't left to evacuate immediately. 

The British Columbia Wildfire Service is battling the blaze, telling CityNews Vancouver on May 21 that wetter weather was helping to stem the tide, but its volatile nature and dry conditions create significant challenges.

Why is the Parker Lake wildfire important?

This wildfire underscores the very real threats posed by climate change. While wildfires are a natural occurrence, rising global temperatures create drier conditions and stronger winds, fueling larger and more destructive fires. It's important to note the resilience of the communities impacted by these conditions, which are displaced and face air pollution and ecological devastation.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, there's been a 600% jump in the number of acres burned (in western U.S. wildfires) today than in the 1970s and $104 billion cost of damages caused by wildfires since 1980.

If left unchecked, climate change will continue to supercharge extreme weather events, putting countless communities at risk.

It's crucial to remember the difference between isolated weather events and climate change as a long-term trend. While wildfires have always occurred, the scientific consensus is clear: Human activity is intensifying them, making them more frequent and destructive. Taking decisive action to curb changes to climates across the world and build resilience can create a safer future for ourselves and future generations.

What's being done about combating wildfires and climate change?

The fight to slow down the increase of global temperatures requires a multipronged approach. Advancements in technologies such as early wildfire detection systems and improved firefighting equipment can enhance our ability to predict and respond to wildfires. 

But it's not just about these advancements. Taking steps like supporting renewable energy initiatives and advocating for stronger environmental policies are some of many that can add up to make a difference. The TCD Guide explores dozens of ways you can make a difference to lower your own impact on carbon pollution.

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