+
Heroes

Watch California's wildfires spread in this wild time-lapse video.

California is burning, and these photos and video explain why.

California is burning.

Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.


The wildfires that scorched over 300,000 acres of land last year have finally been contained, but The Golden State still finds itself in the midst of a five-year drought affecting over 34 million of its residents as of March 2016, according to the U.S Drought Monitor.

Filmmaker Jeff Frost recently uploaded a time-lapse video depicting the power of last year's wildfires as they spread across the state.

GIF via Jeff Frost/Vimeo.

Terrifying, isn't it?

With summer on the horizon and the El Nino storms offering some but relatively little reprieve for many parts of California, the drought is causing "perfectly terrible" conditions for forest fires to once again rear their ugly heads.

Here are 11 examples of what it might look like if they do and a few facts to keep you prepared.

1. Wildfires are devastating.

Image via Jeff Frost, used with permission.

On average, we lose more than 4 million acres of land to wildfires each year. This photo depicts just a few of the 76,067 acres that last September's Valley Fire scorched through in a matter of days.

2. They spread at an insane pace.

GIF via Jeff Frost/Vimeo.

If the wind is right, a wildfire can travel at speeds of up to 14 mph, engulfing an area as massive as this San Diego hillside in a matter of minutes.

3. They can turn nature against itself.

Image via John Newman/U.S. Forest Service/Wikimedia Commons.

Extreme droughts like the one California is currently facing can often turn lush, green vegetation into little more than dried-out kindling capable of not only starting a fire, but determining the direction and manner in which it spreads.

In some parts of California, citizens are actually detesting what little water El Niño's storm system has given them, claiming that the rain will actually worsen the effects of fire season by helping grass grow taller across highways and vacant properties.

4. Wildfires are also INCREDIBLY expensive to fight.

Image via Andrea Booher/FEMA/Wikimedia Commons.

The average annual amount it has cost the United States to fight wildfires since 2000? About $1.4 billion. That's enough money to buy everyone in the country *three* bottles of Fiji water. Three!

5. They can cause lasting health problems.

Image via Jeff Head/Flickr.

Beyond the immediate damage they can cause, wildfires also pump the atmosphere full of carbon-monoxide-ridden smoke, which in great enough quantities can cause bronchitis and premature death for those with heart, respiratory, and lung conditions.

At this time last year, the entirety of California was basically the smoking section of a 1990s-era Pizza Hut. Who knows what the long-term effects will come of this year's fires.

6. They destroy thousands of homes each year.

GIF via Jeff Frost/Vimeo.

Since 1990, more than 17,000 homes and structures have been lost to wildfires in California alone. That Valley Fire I mentioned? It tore through 1,300 homes in just a couple days, forcing thousands to flee to state-run encampments in the chaos. One such journey through the flames was documented by an Anderson Springs resident, and it is horrifying.

7. They can change the weather.

Image via iStock.

As wildfires grow, they often create their own wind in order to fuel the massive chemical reactions taking place inside them. These "in-draft" winds can reach speeds of over 60 mph, overpowering the large-scale, global wind patterns surrounding them and allowing wildfires to move in unpredictable directions and intensify seemingly at random.

8. Oh, and did I mention the FIRENADO?!

Image via iStock.

Yes, a firenado — which is a nightmarish combination of a fire and a tornado, in case you're curious — occurs when a fire's winds are powerful enough to create a vortex within itself. Why the Syfy channel has spent years trying to scare us with Sharknado when this very real, arguably scarier threat exists remains a mystery.

9. Wildfires are only getting worse.

Image via iStock.

Three of the most destructive years in American history wildfire-wise have come in the past decade — 2006, 2007, and 2012 — with an average of 9.5 million acres being lost to wildfires those years. And in 2015? We hit a record-breaking 10,125,149 acres. Considering the average for the entire 1980s was just about 3 million acres, the uptick since is looking like a trend.

10. The biggest reason? You guessed it, climate change.

Photo by Lucas Dawson/Getty Images.

It may seem obvious, but the effects that the increasing temperatures of our planet are having on wildfires simply cannot be overlooked. A higher global temperature means drier conditions, longer fire seasons, and a whole litany of issues for the ecosystem. If the average summer temperature increases at the current rate, scientists predict the overall area burned across 11 western states will double by late this century.

It's this terrifying fact that led filmmaker Frost to make a point about the toll wildfires will have on our environment in the near future (and already are):

"As each year gets hotter and fire season in the state continues to expand, I have become increasingly concerned about our continued existence on this planet," said Frost in an interview with National Geographic about his film.

"I wanted to show what we are up against right now, let alone down the road when global warming intensifies heat and drought which will further exacerbate wildfires."

11. And the warming goes both ways.

Photo by Jesus Vecino/AFP/Getty Images.

Forests capture millions of carbon particles from the air, and when set aflame, they release those carbons back into the air and, in turn, speed up climate change. According to a study published by the National Park Service and UC Berkeley in 2015, 5% to 7% of carbon emissions from 2001 to 2010 came from wildfires. Talk about a vicious cycle.

The truth is, California's drought is a national crisis, not a local one.

As the fifth-largest supplier of food in the world, California's current drought is already having enormous effects on the global economy. It cost the farming sector nearly 20,000 jobs and close to $2.2 billion in 2014 alone.

Even worse is the fact that drier lands are forcing farmers to dig deeper into the soil in search of groundwater, which is both expensive and environmentally damaging.

But lo, there is hope.

Image via iStock.

There's the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which accounts for one-third of California's water supply.

At this time last year, the snowpack was at just 5% of its normal level. Thanks to the effects of El Niño winter storms, the snowpack water content in early 2016 was 87% of normal, which should lend a hand to the state's water conservation efforts this summer, helping to reduce fires.

Additionally, El Niño's showers had helped California’s second-largest reservoir — Oroville in Butte County — reach 69% full and had restored Shasta Lake to 100% full by late March.

Wildfires are and have always been a necessary part of nature.

They're agents of change that shape entire ecological systems by helping to determine what kinds of plants and animals can flourish in a given area. They can essentially press the reset button on a habitat at risk of being overpopulated or otherwise destroyed from within. Destruction is a necessary part of creation after all.

Still, California has a long way to go before it recovers, and we should all chip in however we can.

You can watch Jeff Frost's stunning time-lapse video here:

[vimeo_embed https://player.vimeo.com/video/155926338?color=ffffff&portrait=0 expand=1]
Sponsored

ACUVUE launches a new campaign to inspire Gen Z to put down their phones and follow their vision

What will you create on your social media break? Share it at #MyVisionMySight.

True

If you’ve always lived in a world with social media, it can be tough to truly understand how it affects your life. One of the best ways to grasp its impact is to take a break to see what life is like without being tethered to your phone and distracted by a constant stream of notifications.

Knowing when to disconnect is becoming increasingly important as younger people are becoming aware of the adverse effects screen time can have on their eyes. According to Eyesafe Nielsen, adults are now spending 13-plus hours a day on their digital devices, a 35% increase from 2019.1. Many of us now spend more time staring at screens on a given day than we do sleeping which can impact our eye health.

Normally, you blink around 15 times per minute, however, focusing your eyes on computer screens or other digital displays have been shown to reduce your blink rate by up to 60%.2 Reduced blinking can destabilize your eyes’ tear film, causing dry, tired eyes and blurred vision.3

Keep ReadingShow less

Karlie Smith shows the meal she's bringing to the restaurant for her son.

A mom who admitted she packs her 2-year-old a meal when they go out to dinner has started an interesting debate on TikTok about restaurant etiquette and how it applies to young children.

The video posted by Ohio mom, Karlie Smith (unbreakablemomma on TikTok), has received nearly 600,000 views and has over 1,850 comments.

“Call me cheap, call me whatever, but if we’re going out to a restaurant, I’m packing my kid a meal," Smith, 21, said in her post. "I do this for many reasons. On Friday nights, my family and I get together, and tonight, we’re getting food out. My son is not getting food out.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Man rewatches shows from his childhood and his recaps of the bonkers storylines are priceless

Rob Anderson's hilarious recaps of shows like "Mighty Ducks," "Beethoven," and "7th Heaven" might make you wonder how they got made in the first place.

@hearthrobert/TikTok

These plots makes zero sense.

While there are no doubt some timeless classics from our childhood that remain every bit as amazing as we remember, many are straight-up cringey upon a later viewing. Really, it’s to be expected as societal viewpoints change…sort of a marker of how far we’ve collectively come.

And so, what do we do with these problematic pieces of old-school pop culture? Well, we can certainly update them to better reflect a more modern attitude, but that also comes with a set of potential problems. Or we could simply never watch them again. Certainly an option given all the content out there. But then we might miss an opportunity to better understand what seemed to work for the mainstream then, and why it doesn’t work now.

And then there’s the third option—allow ourselves to be entertained by their cringiness.

That’s certainly the route taken by Rob Anderson. Over on TikTok, Anderson has taken ultra-popular movies and television shows from his childhood and given them hilarious recaps capturing how absurd some of the storylines are.
Keep ReadingShow less

"Fun" dad versus "lazy" mom.

Last November, Upworthy published a popular story about Chloe Sexton, a mother who went viral on TikTok for a video she made explaining “daddy privilege” or the idea that fathers are applauded for doing things that mothers are supposed to do.

"In my opinion, 'daddy privilege' is that subtle upper hand men sidestep into as parents that allows them to gain praise for simply…being a parent," she said. "You fed the baby? What a great dad! You held the baby while mommy bathed? So considerate of you! You picked up something for dinner? What would your family do without you?! It's all the little ways mothers do exactly what the world expects of them without a second thought and then watch fathers get praised for simply showing up."

Sadly, the post resonated with a lot of mothers, because it's true. Expectations for fathers are so low that men are commended for handling basic parenting tasks. But if a mother falls short of perfection, she faces harsh criticism.

Mary Catherine Starr, a mother living in Cape Cod who owns a design studio and teaches yoga, is getting a lot of love on Instagram for her cartoon series that perfectly explains daddy privilege.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Woman decides that she is the love of her life and marries herself at her retirement home

“I said, you know what, I’ve done everything else. Why not?”

77-year-old woman decides she's the love of her life and marries herself.

We joke about marrying ourselves or a platonic friend if some arbitrary amount of time has passed without a proposal from an imaginary suitor. And sure, some people do wind up marrying a friend in more of a business arrangement, but it's not very common that someone follows through with marrying themselves.

Dorothy "Dottie" Fideli, decided that she was going to break the mold. The 77-year-old sat down and thought about all of the things she had done in life and who was with her the entire time cheering her on. It was an easy answer: herself. She was her biggest cheerleader, the person who always showed up and the love of her life, so Fideli made the plan to marry herself.

On a beautiful May day, friends and family gathered in the O’Bannon Terrace Retirement Community, where Fideli is a resident, to witness the ceremony.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

12-year-old Texas girl saves her family from carbon monoxide poisoning

She knew something was wrong with her mom and brother, which wound up saving her whole family.

Fort Worth 12-year-old helps save family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is called a silent killer for a reason. Many people don't realize they're experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning before it's too late. The gas is colorless and odorless and tends to have a sedating effect that causes people to sleep through the fatal poisoning. Having carbon monoxide detectors is one of the most effective ways to identify the gas before it's too late to get out of the house, but not every home has one.

A little girl in Fort Worth, Texas, experienced a terrifying encounter with the deadly gas, but her quick actions saved her entire family. Jaziyah Parker is being held up as a hero after she realized something was wrong with her family members and called for help.

The girl called 911 after she noticed her mom pass out. On the call with the dispatcher, Jaziyah says she thinks her mother has died before explaining that there was something now wrong with her baby brother, who was just 5-months-old.

Keep ReadingShow less

Drew Barrymore speaks during the FLOWER Beauty launch at Westfield Parramatta on April 13, 2019, in Sydney, Australia.

Drew Barrymore, 48, has been in the public consciousness since she starred as Gertie in 1982’s mega-blockbuster, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” a performance that earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. So, it makes sense that many people of a certain age feel as if they’ve grown up with her.

Barrymore has consistently starred in hit films and movies that are rewatchable cable-TV staples, such as “Charlie's Angels” (2000), “Never Been Kissed” (1999), “Scream” (1996), “The Wedding Singer” (1998), “50 First Dates” (2004) and “Fever Pitch” (2005).

Now, she’s an even more significant part of people’s lives as the host of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” which runs every weekday on CBS. So far, the show has been a big success, attracting an average of 1.21 million views per show, and ranks as the #4 talk show in syndication. It was recently renewed through the 2024 season.

Keep ReadingShow less