Increased Wildfires and Global Warming

BuzzOnEarth is an online publication on environmental sustainability and human wellness, focused on creating positive impact. BoE aims to bridge the knowledge gap and act as a catalyst in accelerating sustainable development.

Introduction

The universe is connected with each action that we perform and consequently gives us results. Environmental issues, with dangers that are continuing, are warning us about the damage we have done to the Earth and its resources. Climate change is similarly related to the forest as they are the main reason that is making changes in the climate.

Deforestation due to increased demand in urbanization, furniture, agricultural and land for grazing or other activities, all lead to cut down in the amount of oxygen. Along with the decreased amount of levels of oxygen, there is an increase in the amount of carbon released in the atmosphere which in turn depletes the ozone layer allowing harmful radiations of the sun to enter the Earth. All of these affects humans, lives underwater and above land.

As conditions are becoming hotter and drier day by day the forests are burning along with the wildlife too. Every element is essential for the ecosystem, so is fire. An increase in wildfires in the past years, especially in the year 2020 has created a massive loss in the world’s ecosystem.

How do wildfires start?

Wildfires are counted as natural disasters by the Environmental Protection Agency. Still, around 10 to 15 per cent wildfires happen naturally, and the rest 85 to 90 per cent wildfires are caught due to humans because of discarded cigarettes, un-attempt camps and debris, and arson. Natural wildfires are caused because of droughts or dry weather, and the factors that speed up the process is the flammable fuels, strong winds, and warm temperatures that increase combustion. Added to it, for making the situation worse lightning can also damage the whole wildlife or a downed power line.

Wildfires on the rise around the world

Climate change has increased the temperature, which in turn is leading to the melting of snow and the increase in water levels. The rise in water levels in different parts of the world has resulted in floods destroying lives, home and washing away the fertile soils used for agriculture. With an increase in the amount of evaporation due to high temperatures in recent years, there is less water available for drinking. Thus the amount of rainfall that is required has decreased drastically. Droughts are one of the main reason why rain is essential and if not received, makes the land unfit for agriculture or other use and gradually into a wasteland.

With the increased temperature in recent years, the year 2020 has been the worst in terms of nature’s revenge. Listing the wildfires of 2020 country and region-wise:

Asia:

Uttarakhand forest fires in India

Siberia wildfires in Russia

North America:

The US was the worst-hit country in terms of wildfires this year with,

Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Oregon.

South America:

Argentina wildfires and Brazil rainforest wildfires

Europe:

Chernobyl exclusion zone wildfire

Oceania:

Australian bushfires

These are the list of wildfires that have caused because of humans and nature, but more importantly, the temperature change has been the prime reason behind it.

The California wildfire burnt down the whole town into ground and thousands were forced to flee their home. Burning more than three million acres of land in the California wildfires, scientists fear the increase in global warming is again a warning for us. The temperature in August at California was the highest and each year the weather is increasing by one or two degrees sucking the moisture out of the vegetation and soil.

The Uttarakhand forest fires was another bad news that came from India amid Coronavirus pandemic. The forest was burning for four days and what made it worse was the heatwave in the region. What happened next was some acres of the green cover was got glutted and made it difficult for the wildlife living there hard to save their lives with water drying up. The worst-hit area was Kumaon as North India recorded a high temperature of 40 degrees Celsius in the plains and above 30 degrees in the hills. As per meteorological norms if places record having five degrees above these benchmarks leads to ignition of fires. More than half species of birds were in danger in the Uttarakhand wildfires and affected more than 71 per cent repository herbs and species.

The Australian bush fire season of 2019-2020 was called the Black Summer which started since September 2019. The Australian Government warned of a bushfire in Northern Australia as it reported of arid conditions and lacked moisture in soils. The central fire broke out in December 2019 to January 2020, and the fires continued throughout the summer in Australia. The bushfire burned 18.6 million hectares of land, 5,900 buildings and killed at least 34 people. Considering the wildlife, around three billion terrestrial vertebrates were affected, and some endangered species even extinct.

NASA analyzed that the Australian bushfire emitted 535 million tons of carbon dioxide and the air quality became hazardous. It even burned down one-third land of the Kangaroo Island. All-in-all the bushfires added to increase in temperature and global warming at the same time killing millions of plants and species.

Brazil rainforest wildfires reported in January 2020 with more than 44k fires registered. As per reports, the fire was due to human action. The previous year Amazon rainforest caught fire, which is known as the world’s most massive carbon dioxide sink and plays an essential role in mitigating global warming. All this was due to human interaction and deforestation of forests.

How can forest fires be prevented and controlled?

The obvious answer is afforestation and planting of trees in your locality or any space that has no plants.

Other options are not allowing developments near fire-prone areas, removing fuels and dead trees from the forest that acts as a catalyst, developing recovering plans before any fire hits and implementing strategies for controlling floods, erosion and habitat.

Due to lockdown, this year recorded in the largest drop in greenhouse gases in human history as vehicles, industries and social interactions were brought to a halt. But scientist fears that this is not a permanent solution and not sustainable.

Conclusion

For managing forest fires and protect the people and property, proper plans must be incorporated. Smokes that emit due for fires remain in the atmosphere for a relatively long time and pose a severe risk to public health. People suffering from heart and lung diseases, young and older people mostly come under the risk list.  Most importantly, global warming emissions should be curtailed, and measures must be taken so that wildfires do not become out of control shortly.

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