Between Mars and California – Ariel Abonizio Gomes Soares, Brazil

At the end of September, NASA announced a groundbreaking discovery. After decades of speculation, it has been confirmed that Mars has salty water flowing on its surface. That means 2015 saw the wettest day ever registered in Martian history!

Back on Earth, 2015 is expected to be the hottest year ever registered, according to data from the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) . Even though some countries and states are experiencing this to different extents, California serves as a good example of what is happening on our Planet.

While Mars is having a “wet season”, California is going through its fifth year of drought in a row and it’s the worst in 500 years. Even now,  after months of government action, the situation does not seem any closer to resolution. As if the drought itself was not enough troubling, more than 446,000 acres of forest have been burned to the ground since Jan 1st. Great droughts are usually accompanied with greatly increased fire seasons,as states the data from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

    The Golden Coast as a whole is in the grip of an endless cycle; wildfires and drought feed into each other, fueled by climate change. Long periods of drought affect  not only the ground, but also forests, to a certain level. The chance of wildfires increase  in response to the increasing temperatures and decreasing humidity. The scarcity of water makes it harder for firefighters to combat the wildfires, leading to depressing  current situation in California today. In the end, since there is less ground covered by forests, sunlight directly hits the soil, leading to desertification. With less ground covered by trees and higher average temperature, more water vapor is dissipated into the atmosphere before it turns into the much needed rain.

    Bad planning and global climate change led California into the present situation. There is no water to firefight, while at the same time frequent  wildfires further reduce the water available. Unfortunately, the Golden Coast is merely a precurser of what is to be expected in the next decades, as shown by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA).

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It will require more than one state’s efforts to pull California out of this dire situation. Until then, we must get used to the fact that the Red Planet appears to be doing better than the Pale Blue Dot.

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