How Wildfires and Climate Change are connected

Wildfires and Climate change
– are they connected?

By João Victor Bittar

Global warming is increasing the number of wildfires all over the world.

It’s a natural process that occurs when the temperature rises and the soil is dried, but it has been more frequent in the last decades because of climate change and the human action to burn down lands for livestock.

The earlier snow melts and higher temperatures result in drier soils from the increase of evaporation; of course, that is not the only problem. Bad management of forests and the past fire suppression results in a build-up of flammable fuelwood, which increases the fire risk. The prolonged drought and the changing of precipitation patterns also affect the increase of wildfires, which represents a risk to people and animals who live nearby these areas.

In the summer of 2020, the Amazon has burned in a way never seen before, breaking all records of devastated land. According to INPE, the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, there was an increase of 20% in June and 28% in July. The Pantanal, which can be considered as one with the most biodiversity local on the planet, suffered as well with an increase of 200% in the fires.

The problem in Brazil goes beyond global warming. Some laws prevent crimes against the environment, but the criminals are not getting punished for breaking the law. Basically, they are getting rewarded because if you start a fire in the Amazon, burn a lot of land, don’t get punished and begin to use the land for your profit, how is the situation going to be better? The former minister of the environment is being investigated for illegal wood exportation. The Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said in interviews (after showing data that confirms the increase of fire in the Amazon) – “This story that Amazon burns in fire is a lie.”

According to Greenpeace, Siberia, the equivalent of a third of the territory of France was burned, resulting in 21 million hectares of forests being devastated. The western United States is suffering badly too. California is the most impacted state by wildfires; after a multi-year drought, the forests can’t hold out, and started to burn. Did you know that in 2020, 58,950 wildfires burned 10.1 million acres? Did you also know that nearly 40% of these acres were in California?

The total number of lands burned by wildfires has increased too. NASA data shows that in the last six decades 61 percent of wildfires have occurred since 2000. This shows the increase of the impact of human actions on the environment.

How can we change and start to save the forests?

There are many ways we can change our ways to help save our forests directly. One way is to invest in fire-resilient measures to help existing communities recover. This will also help communities as they will have the measures in place to prevent further damage. Smoke from wildfires can travel far and poses a serious risk to health, especially for people who may have heart and lung ailments, making early warning systems and health-protective measures vital.

But the most important is to stop everything related to global warming emissions, like fuel fossils, and CO2 emissions, because those actions cause a longer drought, less precipitation, higher temperatures, and as a result, the vegetation and soil becomes dry, creating wildfires. Climate change and wildfires are interconnected, which only further emphasises the importance of addressing climate change and changing our ways to minimise our impact on the planet.

Wildfires can destroy communities, forests and harm the humans and animals living in the area. It is so crucial that we act against climate change. This will directly help us reduce the number of wildfires and deadly weather events occurring, as a result ensuring the health of the planet and those living on it.

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