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Is Climate Change to Blame for the Maui Wildfires?

Starting August 8th, the Maui wildfires have wreaked havoc on the local community, destroying more than 2,000 homes and claiming over 100 lives so far. Although no official causes have been reported, climate change has definitely assisted the wildfire’s intensity. Flash droughts, invasive plants, and high winds were all reported prior to the fires, and events like these are perfect conditions to start and spread wildfires.

This week, August 14, flash droughts have occurred as 83% of Hawaii has been extremely and abnormally dry, leading to plants and the ground becoming exceptionally brittle. Flash droughts occur when air sucks moisture out of its environment, leaving it very dry and extremely prone to fires. Additionally, studies have reported that 26% of all of Hawaii is occupied by an invasive species of grass; thus, when the nearby forests burn, it allows the invasive grass to grow further and spread throughout the state. Finally, Hawaii has also been exposed to high winds due to Hurricane Dora passing by, creating strong winds further intensifying the fires. Therefore, low humidity, high vegetation, and dry environment, all in due part caused by climate change, have greatly strengthened the wildfires within Hawaii, making it the worst wildfire in the U.S. in more than a century.

Currently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) is providing shelter to over 3,000 people, and the government is offering loans to homeowners and businesses that were damaged by the fires. However, there has been heavy criticism of Hawaii’s wildfire warnings, one of the largest outdoor sirens in the world, due to their inactivity. Local residents have reported that there was little to no warning or resources on how to evacuate or what to do. The wildfires do, however, show the unpreparedness states have regarding natural disasters, as many are wholly unprepared if a disaster does occur.

It is important to note that while climate change did not cause the fire, it has undoubtedly escalated them and caused it to burn more than 2,500 acres and kill over 100 people.

How can you help?

There are many ways you can help the community and survivors of the Maui wildfires. Through donating to local food banks or the community, volunteering, and signing petitions, we can all do something to ensure and prevent another wildfire or natural disaster from occurring in such a huge magnitude again.

  1. Joining Kids Fight Climate Change: If you want to make climate change news and information more accessible, you should consider joining us! Check out this link: Join the Team | Kids Fight Climate Change: Youth Climate Education. There are more opportunities than just writing, including designing, editing, speaking, and publishing.

  2. Volunteering at advocacy groups: VolunteerMatch is a great resource to find volunteer opportunities, virtual and in-person. Check out this link: VolunteerMatch

If neither of those options applies to you, there are still ways to raise awareness! Simply by sharing articles such as this one, you are doing your part to spread important climate information. That is activism.


Helsel, Phil, and Tim Stelloh. 2023. “Satellite Images Capture Wildfire Devastation in Lahaina.” NBCNews.Com. NBCUniversal News Group. August 10, 2023.

Dev, S. 2023. “How to Help Those Affected by the Maui Wildfires.” CBS News. CBS Interactive. August 16, 2023.

Sullivan, Eileen. 2023. “FEMA Outlines Maui Wildfire Support as Victims Critique Government Response.” The New York Times. The New York Times. August 15, 2023.

“Hawaii’s Robust Emergency Siren Warning System SAT Silent during Deadly Wildfires.” 2023. CBS News. CBS Interactive. August 14, 2023.

Jacobo, Julia, Samantha Wnek, and Ginger Zee. 2023. “Why Climate Change Can’t Be Blamed Entirely for the Maui Wildfires.” ABC News. ABC News Network. August 15, 2023.,it%20can%20not%20be%20blamed.

Dance, Scott. 2023. “Maui Fires Not Just Due to Climate Change but a ‘Compound Disaster.’” The Washington Post. WP Company. August 13, 2023.


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