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OC students affected by California wildfires, climate change

As summer progressed, some Oklahoma Christian University students spent their time in the midst of record-breaking California wildfires, which scientists claim are a direct association with the increasingly prevalent effects of climate change.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, fires throughout the state will increase by 50 percent while the amount of land burned each year will rise to 77 percent by the end of this century. State officials, such as California Governor Jerry Brown view these facts as a call to recognize the danger of the global situation.

In California, facts and science still matter,” Brown noted in a tweet on Monday. “These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change”

While many continue to question the link between climate change and wildfires, sources such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration assert a link between extreme weather patterns and climate change. Still, other factors contribute to the extreme wildfires seen throughout California this summer.

California wildfires are getting worse every year, and according to Harrison Holmlund, a native Californian, he has noticed a difference in the intensity of the fires in the past 10 years. Though Holmlund, a Sophomore mechanical engineering student recognizes the legitimacy of climate change, he also notes additional causes for the magnitude of these extreme fires.

“I think that [climate change] is a part of it,” Holmlund said. “The biggest issue is that the forest system has mismanaged wildfire containment for years. We’re putting out all of the little fires, and the underbrush grows up and when a big fire comes through, it’s huge.”

Freshman Christopher Chung grew up in the East San Francisco Bay area, where the Mendicino Complex fire, the largest fire in California’s history, continues to thrive just a few hours away. Chung states that these fires affect everyone in the state.

“When you’re younger you don’t really understand,” Chung said. “You think ‘oh there’s just a fire,’ you don’t actually understand the devastation it causes. Last year the smoke was so bad that it shut down the entire bay area. You [could] see the smoke in front of your face. It’s that bad. Whether you’re in an area that has fire danger or not, you will be affected by it.”

Despite questions over the cause of these fires, people throughout California and firefighters from around the world are attempting to help however they can. Now, at the beginning of the semester, the danger posed by these fires consume Chung’s thoughts.

“My hometown area is said to be in the most amount of danger in these next couple of months,” Chung said. “So that’s what terrifies me the most right now. That my family’s property will be caught in a fire or worse and I’m not there. That’s been the most pressing thought on my mind since I’ve moved out here- when. It’s not a matter of if, it’s more a matter of when are the fires going to happen and whether or not my family will be safe.”

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