We’ve by now all heard of the Ama­zo­nas fires, which in the past weeks have swept the media and went viral, with hash­tags like #pray­forama­zo­nas fol­lowing. But what are the con­se­quen­ces of one of our big­gest forests bur­ning down?

We’ve by now all heard of the Ama­zo­nas fires, which in the past weeks have swept the media and went viral, with hash­tags like #pray­forama­zo­nas and #ama­zo­nas­fire fol­lowing. The rain­fo­rest is the world’s lar­gest car­bon sink, absor­bing about 2.2 Bil­li­on tons of car­bon dioxi­de in a year, and plays a signi­fi­cant role in glo­bal cli­ma­te chan­ge. The Ama­zo­nas fires hit the news on the 15 of August, but have been hap­pe­ning all year, sin­ce this year the­re have been unusual­ly high tem­pe­ra­tures fol­lowing the dry sea­son. The cau­se of the fires is main­ly the defo­re­sta­ti­on in the slash-burn method to make way for live­stock and agri­cul­tu­re, by cut­ting and bur­ning plants, and even though this is gene­ral­ly ille­gal, the enfor­ce­ment can be lax. 

Howe­ver, this is not the only place whe­re our pla­net is bur­ning. The­re have been raging wild­fires in parts of the Arc­tic, as well as in are­as of Sibe­ria, Alas­ka, Green­land and Cana­da. Alt­hough wild­fires are com­mon at this time of the year, the dry ground, hot tem­pe­ra­tures, heat light­ning and strong winds are at a unpre­ce­den­ted high, blowing this out of pro­por­ti­on. In Rus­sia more than 30.000 km2 of remo­te forest is bur­ning, an area big­ger than Bel­gi­um. The smog is causing several regi­ons in Rus­sia to decla­re sta­tes of emer­gen­cy. The smo­ke from the fire is blowing to major cities like Novo­si­birsk, blot­ting out the sun and making it dif­fi­cult for some peop­le to brea­the. In Alas­ka, 105 lar­ge fires bur­ned 9.000 km2 of land, indu­ced by light­ning strikes. Cana­da repor­ted 3.873 wild­fires bur­ning 18.000 km2 of forest.

So, what is the impact of the­se fires? To be frank­ly honest the impact is just as big as the sci­en­tists have pre­dic­ted. Harm­ful pol­lut­ants and toxic gases are released into the atmo­s­phe­re, which can be dan­ge­rous to ani­mals and humans the like. Ano­t­her cri­ti­cal bypro­duct of the fires is the soot in the air, which absorbs the sun­light, ther­ethrough war­ming the atmo­s­phe­re. If the soot falls on ice or snow, it redu­ces the reflec­ti­vi­ty and can trap more heat, which speeds up the mel­ting pro­cess. This then again relea­ses car­bon dioxi­de and metha­ne into the air, some of which has been held in the ground for thousands of years, war­ming up our pla­net even more.

You might be thin­king, some­thing needs to be done to stop the­se fires, and some­thing is being done. Vla­di­mir Putin orde­red the Rus­si­an army to help tack­le the fires along with pla­nes and heli­co­p­ters with fire-figh­t­ing equip­ment. The resi­dents have been cri­ti­cal sin­ce then, cal­ling for tougher action after the Rus­si­an aut­ho­ri­ties decla­red they were not plan­ning on put­ting out the fires in remo­te, unin­ha­bi­ted are­as, becau­se they were no direct thre­at to peop­le. Many argue, that the Not­re Dame fire recei­ved far more media atten­ti­on and sup­port than the bur­ning of our own pla­net. But the­re is a pro­blem that ari­ses in the Arc­tic for extin­guis­hing the fires. First, the cost of fire­figh­t­ing across huge regi­ons would be gigan­tic, as Rus­si­an for­ces are con­cen­tra­ted on the wild­fires in Sibe­ria and not the Arc­tic as a who­le. Second, put­ting out the fires lea­ves the soil rich in dead plant mat­ter, which also lea­ves more high­ly flamm­a­ble fuel on the land­s­cape for the next years, a pro­blem that many bla­me for the cata­stro­phic fires in other states.

It rai­ses the ques­ti­on, if the­se mea­su­res will only help short term or if we all, peop­le, as well as the government, need to chan­ge the way we live and per­cei­ve cli­ma­te chan­ge. Fires, hot tem­pe­ra­tures, droughts, the­se are all a pro­duct of cli­ma­te chan­ge, which is very real and hap­pe­ning right now. We need to act immedia­te­ly, whe­ther it be through less meat con­sump­ti­on, the use of rene­wa­ble ener­gy at home or redu­cing plastic was­te. But what we also need to do is edu­ca­te our­sel­ves about this cri­sis and then edu­ca­te others, so peop­le know about it and can make decisi­ons, for examp­le if they real­ly need to eat meat for the fourth time in the week, when they know are­as are bur­ning becau­se of it. We need to sol­ve this as a collec­ti­ve, else the­re will be no tur­ning back. 

0 CommentsKommentare ausblenden

Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

Du bist offline :)