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Giving Compass' Take:
• Kate Yoder at Grist argues that the term "natural disaster" should not be used when talking about the mass wildfires happening because she believes climate change (not natural) to be a major factor in producing them.
• How can we raise awareness about climate change’s role in disasters? What can you do to support long-term disaster relief?
• Learn more about tips for disaster giving.
Wildfires recently turned the West Coast into a hazy orange hellscape, scorching a record-breaking amount of land in California and blanketing the whole region with lung-clogging smoke. The fires have already burned thousands of houses, driven Oregonians from their homes, and killed dozens of people. And it’s not even peak wildfire season yet.
You expect to see the phrase natural disaster all over the news when hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic explosions, floods, or fires cause a lot of deaths and property damage. This fire season, however, politicians and other people are beginning to ditch natural disaster for phrases that are more specific — and more accurate.
“These are not just wildfires,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said during a press conference last week. “They are climate fires.” Oregon Governor Kate Brown wrote on Twitter that her state was experiencing an “unprecedented fire event.”
These megafires aren’t exactly “natural,” after all — they’re magnified by the hotter, drier climate humans have created, along with a century of forest fire suppression that left more fuel to burn. And 85 percent of the time, wildfires are started by people — a smoldering cigarette, an unquenched campfire, a gender reveal party gone wrong. You could argue that even the wild in wildfires is a bit misleading.
Read the full article about the term "natural disaster" by Kate Yoder at Grist.