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Maui wildfires: a blazing call for help

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Blazing fires are spreading across Maui, Hawaii, killing a historic 93 people. Although numerous speculations exist regarding the origin of the fires, the cause of the natural catastrophe cannot be attributed to a single factor; instead, it is the result of a combination of various elements.

The Maui wildfires, called the worst in modern history by some scientists, surpass the previous wildfires in northern California from 2018. The damage caused by the fires is estimated to be six billion dollars, and over 2000 buildings have been destroyed with hundreds of locals left without power. Hawaii Governor Josh Green stated that evacuation was a top priority and with fewer people around it will make recovery work easier.

“This is the largest natural disaster we've ever experienced…It’s going to also be a natural disaster that’s going to take an incredible amount of time to recover from…In the long term, people are going to need mental health care services, in the very long term, we will rebuild together.” Gov. Green stated at a Saturday press conference.

It’s no secret that the temperature around the world has been on the rise, and in fact, Hawaii itself is two degrees warmer than in the 1950s. The rising temperatures, dry air, and strong winds from a hurricane passing south of the islands, all led to severe and widespread wildfires. The hurricane winds played a large role in the fires spreading, and the drought, a direct cause of climate change, caused more severe consequences. However, human activity, in addition to climate change, had a large impact as well. With a decrease in agricultural activity, grass has grown unchecked and once well-maintained fields are no longer. Thus the wildfires are caused by compound events.

There are numerous ways individuals can contribute to helping those impacted by the wildfires. The Red Cross is actively receiving donations to establish emergency shelters for people in need of food and electricity. Moreover, the Maui Food Bank is committed to supplying four meals to the hungry for each dollar donated. Additionally, there are GoFundMe campaigns, yet it's crucial to ensure their authenticity before making any donations.

“That landscape around it has gone through some dramatic changes, just within the past couple of decades. And that’s really the message that we’ve been trying to harp on,” Clay Trauernicht, fire ecologist of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, told Wired. “Unfortunately, this is the worst outcome you can imagine. And maybe this will make people wake up,” Trauernicht says.

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