With temperatures constantly changing throughout the world, there has been an increase in wildfires, making it harder to control these continuous disasters. Each year, fires in California leave homes and the environment destroyed. Currently, forest fires in Indonesia are producing thick black smog, which contains harmful chemicals that make it difficult for individuals to breathe. 

Jerry Dorsett

Jerry Dorsett, adjunct instructor in environmental studies, currently teaches three courses, one of which is Community Agriculture Fall Harvest. Dorsett discusses the effects of wildfires and why he believes they are increasing. He also highlights actions individuals can take to assist in decreasing wildfires.

Q: What is your insight on the rapid increase in wildfires?

A: The increase in wildfires is definitely an adjustment for our world because vegetation is constantly burning. Wildfires are occurring at a more rapid rate, but wildfires are also a natural process in the ecosystem. The sudden increase in wildfires could be due to coverage of stories in media or natural phenomena such as thunderstorms or drier grounds. 

Climate change is something that is always occurring and something that will continue to occur. As human beings, we are most likely having a negative effect on the environment with our use of materials and overuse of natural resources. 

As individuals continue to have a negative relationship with the Earth ... the amount of wildfire sightings will continue to increase because the relationship with natural resources and man has constantly been exasperated. We definitely need to improve on our stewardship of the world.

Q: What is the difference in wildfires started by individuals versus ones that occur naturally?

A: My viewpoint is that they all have negative and positive impacts. A lot of the factors that we see go back to how we are managing our natural resources. There have been several studies that show that we are not properly using forest and areas. Managing them better will eliminate the catastrophic damage of wildfires we see. 

All factors of wildfires whether started by individuals or naturally, are all a problem, and other devices such as Mother Nature and the world, eventually we regenerate self and reestablish ... What really matters is what ways are individuals utilizing their natural resources and becoming more aware of their human footprint on the environment?

Q: What effect are climate change and global warming having on the ability to control wildfires?

A: I prefer to go with the term climate change because there is evidence of warming and cooling air in areas. There is a lot of thought in the world about how much climate change is affecting the environment ... All factors … of global warming and climate change are increasing the damage and frequency of wildfires that are occurring.  

Q:  What are the steps individuals can take to help lessen the effects of wildfires?

A: It goes down to the basics of how we use natural resources ... such as water, use of paper and lumber products, technology, electricity ... The legislative standpoint of how we use forests are managed and our national park … is an important factor to look at … How do we as the U.S. and United Nations interact with other countries with these issues in terms of are we being supportive, or are we getting on them for doing the same things that we are doing?