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Community siberia  africa and australia  are burning  why  | Upload Society

Siberia, Africa And Australia, Are Burning: Why?

by: Joris Zuid
siberia  africa and australia  are burning  why  | Upload

It would probably be an understatement to say that Siberia, Africa, Australia, California, and Brazil did not have their best year in 2019 in their existence. World leaders are tripping over each other to offer their assistance to Australia and the troubled Brazilian government, who are still struggling to get a grip on the problem. Meanwhile, hectares and hectares of forestland are catching fire with each passing minute.

Siberia, Africa, Australia, California, And Brasil Are Burning

While the Amazon is grabbing headlines with these historically fierce and ferocious fires, it is not the only part of our world that is on fire. Central Africa is facing some of the worst wildfires in its history as well, standing by more or less helplessly as vast areas of savanna are ablaze. And just before those started, we were confronted with the startling headline that the Arctic is on fire: with Siberia, a place usually associated with icy cold tundras, now in danger of being burned to the ground. And what about Australia? Its bushfires threaten thousand of people, nature, cities, animals like Koalas.

Recommended: Heatwaves Worldwide: Nothing New! How To Protect Your Self

Koala, water bottle, arms, hands

The one thing that stands out here is that wildfires are becoming much more severe - and occurring in places where there was previously unheard of. Many are exclaiming that this inevitably means that the world is ‘on fire,’ and climate change is shifting to a higher gear. While this does make for some interest-grabbing headlines, it surely would be too easy to say that climate change has caused these fires. Or wouldn’t it be?

Recommended: Climate Change: China Floods The Arctic On Fire

What we can safely do is turn the matter around. We do know for a fact that wildfires are active contributors to climate change. They kill millions of trees and vegetation, which function as the lungs of the earth. With fewer trees and plants, the earth cannot remove as many harmful emissions from the air - while a wildfire is pretty much the equivalent of a cigarette, releasing a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Think of it as smoking one pack of cigarettes per day at a time when your lung function is decreasing rapidly as the result of lung disease of sorts.

Wildfires Globally: What On Earth Is Going On?

Wildfires Globally. What are the different types of wildfires? There are three basic types of forest fires:
  • Crown fires burn trees up their entire length to the top.
  • Surface fires burn only surface litter and duff.
  • Ground fires (sometimes called underground or subsurface fires) occur in deep accumulations of humus, peat, and similar dead vegetation that become dry enough to burn.

The numbers are - staggering. Take Siberia, where some six million acres have been burned to a crisp. Or Alaska, another part of the Arctic, which has already lost 2.5 million acres to wildfires. This is a massive loss for the Arctic region, which is already suffering disproportionally from global warming, warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Potentially catastrophic, especially as this will lead to an increase in lightning - a leading cause for the fire.

Recommended: Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected

Here, it seems as if we are entering some sort of vicious circle. As the world gets warmer, wildfires will become more prevalent. And as there are more wildfires, it will leave us with fewer vegetation and higher carbon emissions. This will only serve to speed up global warming, mainly if those wildfires occur in regions - like the Amazon or Arctic - that are powerful catalysts for our climate system.

Complicating matters even further is the unpredictability and variety of wildfires: there is no easy way to categorize them, nor is there a single root cause that can be identified that causes those fires. Some fires may be set intentionally, to obtain land for agricultural purposes. In contrast, others are accidental or perhaps more directly linked to global warming, as in the example of the Arctic.

Worldmap fires in the world red dots
Siberia, Africa, Australia, the world is burning

Wildfires Globally: Australia. First Impression

In Australia, beds are burning. So are entire towns, irreplaceable forests and endangered and precious animal species such as the koala.


                                 

  Bushfire emergency has claimed 1000 homes and razed an area the size of Belgium | 7.30 | 1 of January 2020
                                             Wildfires Globally: Australia, America, Africa, The Artic, Siberia

What are the linkages between climate change and extreme weather events?

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the great wonders of this planet. Subject to the twin assaults of warming-caused bleaching and ocean acidification, it will be gone in a matter of decades in the absence of a dramatic reduction in global carbon emissions.

Wildfires Globally. How does a wildfire form?
Sometimes, fires occur naturally, ignited by heat from the sun or a lightning strike. However, the majority of wildfires are the result of human carelessness. Causes include arson, campfires, discarding lit cigarettes, not burning debris properly, playing with matches or fireworks.

The Blue Mountains, another of Australia’s natural wonders, known for its lush temperate rainforests, majestic cliffs and rock formations and panoramic vistas that challenge any the world has to offer. It, too, is now threatened by climate change.

firefighters

Wildfires Globally: Australia

Gone are the vast expanses of rainforest framed by distant blue-tinged mountain ranges. Instead, there are now smoke-filled valleys, with only the faintest ghosts of distant ridges and peaks in the background. A brown haze replaced the iconic blue tint (which derives from a mist formed from ‘terpenes’ emitted by the Eucalyptus trees that are so plentiful here). The blue sky, too, had been replaced by that brown haze.
Locals would volunteer that they have never seen anything like this before. Some even uttered the words ‘climate change’ without any prompting.

Wildfires Globally. Does fire reproduce?
Fire is a self-sustaining chemical reaction where heat produces flammable gases, which burn and produce more heat. So to answer your question, 'Can fire reproduce?', reproduction is a process by which living creatures perpetuate their species. Fire is not a living thing and therefore does not reproduce

The brown skies observed now in the Blue Mountains are a product of human-caused climate change. Take record heat, combine it with an unprecedented drought in already dry regions, and you get unprecedented bushfires like the ones engulfing the Blue Mountains and spreading across the continent. It’s not complicated.

Wildfires Globally: Australia, New South Wales

In the worst-affected state, New South Wales, fires have burned more than 4 million hectares (9.9m acres), destroying more than 900 houses. Across the country, 12 people have died - including three volunteer firefighters - with most of the casualties in New South Wales.

Australia Is Burning: What Caused It?

Hot, dry weather combined with prolonged drought and strong winds have created perfect conditions for a fire to spread rapidly. Around 100 wildfires are burning across the state, with up to half as yet uncontained by firefighters and continuing to threaten lives. The fires have been exacerbated by 40C temperatures and strong winds, creating challenging conditions for the 2,500 firefighters deployed in the field.

Graph bush-fires North South Wales Australia
Wildfires Globally: Australia. Source: New South Wales Rural Fire Service. 31-12-2019

The small town of Balmoral, south-west of Sydney, was mostly destroyed, and scores of homes were razed amid catastrophic conditions on 22 December. In northern NSW, large fires are burning in the region between Port Macquarie and Byron Bay.

Australia, bush-fire, Balmoral, VW Beetle on fire
Wildfires Globally: Australia, Balmoral: A VW Beetle on fire

In the countryside to the west of Sydney, there are fears that the huge Gospers Mountain fire, which originated in the Wollemi National Park, may merge with the Green Wattle Creek blaze in the lower Blue Mountains. The fires in the Blue Mountains, a world heritage area and popular tourist destination, has burnt over 64,000 hectares, though much of it is now being controlled, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service. Fire crews in the region took advantage of cooler conditions last week to perform 'back burning,' where small areas are deliberately burned to create breaks to stop or slow the primary fire.

Smoke from bushfires has periodically blown south-eastwards to reach Sydney, causing severe air pollution in Australia's largest city. Further south of Sydney, significant roads have been closed several times during the last week with emergency-level fires spanning a 500km (310 miles) area across New South Wales and the neighboring state of Victoria.

An Australian farmer was forced to shoot 20 of his cows after they were severely injured in the bushfires ravaging the coastal areas of southern New South Wales. Steve Shipton from Coolagolite, between the hard-hit towns of Cobargo and Bermagui, was consoled by neighboring farmers after the heart-wrenching task of putting down the cattle, which had been severely burnt by fires that swept through his property.

Man kills cow
An Australian farmer was forced to shoot 20 of his cows after they were severely injured in the bushfires.

Graph how big are the fires
Australia is burning: What caused It?. Source: New South Wales Rural Fire Service. 

To put the fire damage in New South Wales in perspective, 1.8 million hectares burned in the 2018 California wildfires, and some 900,000 hectares were lost in the 2019 Amazon fires. Flames up to 70m (230ft) in height have been reported.

Bush-fires last week of 2019

Australia Is Burning: What Caused It? The Situation In Other States

In Victoria, the state's Country Fire Authority issued emergency warnings across the region of East Gippsland, telling 30,000 people to leave the area before roads became too dangerous. Fires have been burning in the area since late November, but the latest warnings for East Gippsland are of bushfire-driven thunderstorms, which would increase the risk of the fires spreading further out of control.
In the small town of Mallacoota, residents fled to the beach following a warning siren, with only a change in the wind direction keeping the fire from reaching them on the shore.

In the state of South Australia, the Cudlee Creek fire is reported to have destroyed more than 80 homes in the Adelaide Hills region. The fires are also thought to have destroyed up to a third of the vines that provide grapes for the Adelaide Hills wine industry.

Australia Is Burning. Are Bushfires Getting Worse?

Many Australians are asking that very question and whether these fires are linked to climate change - but the science is complicated. Scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate will contribute to fires becoming more frequent and more intense.

Graph fires Australia
Australia's worst fires

Australia's deadliest bushfire disaster was 'Black Saturday' in February 2009, when some 180 people died in Victoria. Data shows that Australia has warmed overall by slightly more than one degree Celsius since 1910, with most of the heating occurring since 1950, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

Australia is getting warmer.

Graph Australia is getting warmer

Australia is Burning. Hottest Day On Record

Australia broke its all-time temperature record twice in December. An average maximum of 40.9C was recorded on 17 December, broken a day later by 41.9C, both beating 2013's record of 40.3C. By the end of the month, every state had measured temperatures above 40C - including Tasmania.

Australia's Maximum temperature 29 December 2019
Wildfires Globally: Australia. Maximum temperature 29 December 2019

The main climate driver behind the heat has been a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) - an event where sea surface temperatures are warmer in the western half of the ocean, cooler in the east. The difference between the two temperatures is currently the strongest in 60 years.

Wildfires Globally. Are wildfires good?
Wildfires, when allowed to burn in areas where they do not impact human development, are regenerative for the forest, revitalizing for the watershed, renew the soil, and reset the clock for the ecosystem. As a researcher on wildfire and streams let me recount the many ways that natural wildfire is beneficial.

Brazil, The Amazon, And Indonesia Are Burning: Intentionally Set Fires

The Amazon, though, is a perfect example of a wildfire that was set intentionally. Brazil is looking to expand its presence on the economic world stage, for instance, through its growing export of soybeans and cattle. These agricultural products require more land, which can, in the Brazilians’ minds, easily be obtained by ‘borrowing’ it from the rainforest.

Recommended: Brazil Is Burning For Your Beef: Amazon’s Nature, Our Luxury

New president Jair Bolsonaro is more focused on the economic gains and is, in doing so, rolling back all kinds of measures that were put in place to protect both the environment as well as the indigenous groups living in the forest. All of this has undoubtedly added to fears of further deforestation, and while numbers of the exact amount of forest that has gone to waste are not yet available, concerns are that it will only get worse in years to come.

fire fighters palm oil planation
Firefighters at a palm oil plantation in Pekanbaru, Indonesia

Southeast Asia is looking at a similar issue. Under pressure to live up to rising demand, more and more agricultural land is ‘forged’ in countries like Sumatra, Borneo, and Malaysia. Up to 71% of so-called peat forests have gone to waste in the past three decades, making room for farms producing palm oil. This hazardous practice does not only significantly add to global warming, as peat releases some of the most damaging and polluting gases, it also poses a significant risk to those living around it. Although the government has attempted to call a halt to this trend, it has not had much of an effect yet: as wildfires are back in full force this year.

Recommended: Amazon’s Fires, Madonna And DiCaprio: Questions & Answers

The Arctic Is Burning

An area that is new to wildfires in the Arctic, including Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. These areas have not dealt with the issue previously. Still, they are facing the worst effects of global warming thus far - with temperatures rising to record heights and plants and vegetation becoming drier than they have ever been. Combined with the increased likelihood of lightning, it is kind of like throwing a lighted match into a stack of hay. 
In total, 180 megatons of carbon dioxide have been emitted as a result of the Arctic wildfires. This massive number is a multiple of the amount as emitted by entire countries. This is substantially speeding up global warming, the very same thing causing the Arctic to suffer so severely from wildfires and melting glaciers.

Wildfires Globally. Why don't trees burn in fires?
Trees in fire-prone areas develop thicker bark, in part, because thick bark does not catch fire or burn easily. The species also drops lower branches as the trees grow older, which helps prevent fire from climbing up and burning the green needles higher up the tree.

Man, fire, the Arctic
Indigenous leaders call for Arctic cooperation against wildfires.

California And Africa Are Burning. The Seasonal Cycle Of Burning

One other category of wildfires is those that are expected and - one could say - even needed. The western part of the United States and Africa, to mention just a few, have a seasonal cycle of fires that actually ‘replenish’ the landscape. Take the lodgepole pines, for instance, a staple tree that requires the wildfire heat to release its seeds. In Sub-Saharan Africa, savanna ecosystems are used to their periodical ‘burn’ and will flourish once again not long after the fires have passed.

Car on fire california
America Is Burning: California

This does, however, not mean that we should stand by and idly watch those wildfires destroy large pieces of land. Often, the root cause will be accidental - like someone dropping a cigarette or a campfire gone wrong. This still sets in motion an event that is potentially dangerous and disastrous to the surrounding area, and that is bound to become even more so in years to come as the direct result of climate change. Research has shown that the Californian wildfires are a staggering 500 percent larger than they would have been without it. They are unnecessarily massive, so to speak, endangering both human and animal lives in the process.

Wildfires Globally. What plants grow after a fire? Fire-activated Seeds
Perhaps the most amazing fire adaptation is that some species actually require fire for their seeds to sprout. Some plants, such as the lodgepole pine, Eucalyptus, and Banksia, have serotinous cones or fruits that are completely sealed with resin.

Siberia, Africa, Australia, Are Burning. The World Is On Fire

trees, fire

While it may feel and look as if our world is quite literally on fire, one should always consider the root cause first. And while some of those vast wildfires that have been raging in the past months have other reasons, there are a few that can already be traced back to global warming directly - and all of them can, without a doubt, be considered a significant contributor.

Funny how it works: global warming-induced wildfires ending up accelerating that very same phenomenon. However, one might wonder if ‘funny’ really is the most appropriate word.

Recommended: Climate Change And Its Effects Like Droughts: The Heat Is On

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Siberia, Africa And Australia, Are Burning: Why?

It would probably be an understatement to say that Siberia, Africa, Australia, California, and Brazil did not have their best year in 2019 in their existence. World leaders are tripping over each other to offer their assistance to Australia and the troubled Brazilian government, who are still struggling to get a grip on the problem. Meanwhile, hectares and hectares of forestland are catching fire with each passing minute. Siberia, Africa, Australia, California, And Brasil Are Burning While the Amazon is grabbing headlines with these historically fierce and ferocious fires, it is not the only part of our world that is on fire. Central Africa is facing some of the worst wildfires in its history as well, standing by more or less helplessly as vast areas of savanna are ablaze. And just before those started, we were confronted with the startling headline that the Arctic is on fire: with Siberia, a place usually associated with icy cold tundras, now in danger of being burned to the ground. And what about Australia? Its bushfires threaten thousand of people, nature, cities, animals like Koalas. Recommended:  Heatwaves Worldwide: Nothing New! How To Protect Your Self The one thing that stands out here is that wildfires are becoming much more severe - and occurring in places where there was previously unheard of. Many are exclaiming that this inevitably means that the world is ‘on fire,’ and climate change is shifting to a higher gear. While this does make for some interest-grabbing headlines, it surely would be too easy to say that climate change has caused these fires. Or wouldn’t it be? Recommended:  Climate Change: China Floods The Arctic On Fire What we can safely do is turn the matter around. We do know for a fact that wildfires are active contributors to climate change. They kill millions of trees and vegetation, which function as the lungs of the earth. With fewer trees and plants, the earth cannot remove as many harmful emissions from the air - while a wildfire is pretty much the equivalent of a cigarette, releasing a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Think of it as smoking one pack of cigarettes per day at a time when your lung function is decreasing rapidly as the result of lung disease of sorts. Wildfires Globally: What On Earth Is Going On? Wildfires Globally. What are the different types of wildfires? There are three basic types of forest fires: Crown fires burn trees up their entire length to the top. Surface fires burn only surface litter and duff. Ground fires (sometimes called underground or subsurface fires) occur in deep accumulations of humus, peat, and similar dead vegetation that become dry enough to burn. The numbers are - staggering. Take Siberia, where some six million acres have been burned to a crisp. Or Alaska, another part of the Arctic, which has already lost 2.5 million acres to wildfires. This is a massive loss for the Arctic region, which is already suffering disproportionally from global warming, warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Potentially catastrophic, especially as this will lead to an increase in lightning - a leading cause for the fire. Recommended:  Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected Here, it seems as if we are entering some sort of vicious circle. As the world gets warmer, wildfires will become more prevalent. And as there are more wildfires, it will leave us with fewer vegetation and higher carbon emissions. This will only serve to speed up global warming, mainly if those wildfires occur in regions - like the Amazon or Arctic - that are powerful catalysts for our climate system. Complicating matters even further is the unpredictability and variety of wildfires: there is no easy way to categorize them, nor is there a single root cause that can be identified that causes those fires. Some fires may be set intentionally, to obtain land for agricultural purposes. In contrast, others are accidental or perhaps more directly linked to global warming, as in the example of the Arctic. Siberia, Africa, Australia, the world is burning Wildfires Globally: Australia. First Impression In Australia, beds are burning. So are entire towns, irreplaceable forests and endangered and precious animal species such as the koala.  {youtube}                                   Bushfire emergency has claimed 1000 homes and razed an area the size of Belgium | 7.30 | 1 of January 2020                                              Wildfires Globally: Australia, America, Africa, The Artic, Siberia What are the linkages between climate change and extreme weather events? The Great Barrier Reef, one of the great wonders of this planet. Subject to the twin assaults of warming-caused bleaching and ocean acidification, it will be gone in a matter of decades in the absence of a dramatic reduction in global carbon emissions. Wildfires Globally. How does a wildfire form? Sometimes, fires occur naturally, ignited by heat from the sun or a lightning strike. However, the majority of wildfires are the result of human carelessness. Causes include arson, campfires, discarding lit cigarettes, not burning debris properly, playing with matches or fireworks. The Blue Mountains, another of Australia’s natural wonders, known for its lush temperate rainforests, majestic cliffs and rock formations and panoramic vistas that challenge any the world has to offer. It, too, is now threatened by climate change. Wildfires Globally: Australia Gone are the vast expanses of rainforest framed by distant blue-tinged mountain ranges. Instead, there are now smoke-filled valleys, with only the faintest ghosts of distant ridges and peaks in the background. A brown haze replaced the iconic blue tint (which derives from a mist formed from ‘terpenes’ emitted by the Eucalyptus trees that are so plentiful here). The blue sky, too, had been replaced by that brown haze. Locals would volunteer that they have never seen anything like this before. Some even uttered the words ‘climate change’ without any prompting. Wildfires Globally. Does fire reproduce? Fire is a self-sustaining chemical reaction where heat produces flammable gases, which burn and produce more heat. So to answer your question, 'Can fire reproduce?', reproduction is a process by which living creatures perpetuate their species. Fire is not a living thing and therefore does not reproduce The brown skies observed now in the Blue Mountains are a product of human-caused climate change. Take record heat, combine it with an unprecedented drought in already dry regions, and you get unprecedented bushfires like the ones engulfing the Blue Mountains and spreading across the continent. It’s not complicated. Wildfires Globally: Australia, New South Wales In the worst-affected state, New South Wales, fires have burned more than 4 million hectares (9.9m acres), destroying more than 900 houses. Across the country, 12 people have died - including three volunteer firefighters - with most of the casualties in New South Wales. Australia Is Burning: What Caused It? Hot, dry weather combined with prolonged drought and strong winds have created perfect conditions for a fire to spread rapidly. Around 100 wildfires are burning across the state, with up to half as yet uncontained by firefighters and continuing to threaten lives. The fires have been exacerbated by 40C temperatures and strong winds, creating challenging conditions for the 2,500 firefighters deployed in the field. Wildfires Globally: Australia. Source: New South Wales Rural Fire Service. 31-12-2019 The small town of Balmoral, south-west of Sydney, was mostly destroyed, and scores of homes were razed amid catastrophic conditions on 22 December. In northern NSW, large fires are burning in the region between Port Macquarie and Byron Bay. Wildfires Globally: Australia, Balmoral: A VW Beetle on fire In the countryside to the west of Sydney, there are fears that the huge Gospers Mountain fire, which originated in the Wollemi National Park, may merge with the Green Wattle Creek blaze in the lower Blue Mountains. The fires in the Blue Mountains, a world heritage area and popular tourist destination, has burnt over 64,000 hectares, though much of it is now being controlled, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service. Fire crews in the region took advantage of cooler conditions last week to perform 'back burning,' where small areas are deliberately burned to create breaks to stop or slow the primary fire. Smoke from bushfires has periodically blown south-eastwards to reach Sydney, causing severe air pollution in Australia's largest city. Further south of Sydney, significant roads have been closed several times during the last week with emergency-level fires spanning a 500km (310 miles) area across New South Wales and the neighboring state of Victoria. An Australian farmer was forced to shoot 20 of his cows after they were severely injured in the bushfires ravaging the coastal areas of southern New South Wales. Steve Shipton from Coolagolite, between the hard-hit towns of Cobargo and Bermagui, was consoled by neighboring farmers after the heart-wrenching task of putting down the cattle, which had been severely burnt by fires that swept through his property. An Australian farmer was forced to shoot 20 of his cows after they were severely injured in the bushfires. Australia is burning: What caused It?. Source: New South Wales Rural Fire Service.  To put the fire damage in New South Wales in perspective, 1.8 million hectares burned in the 2018 California wildfires, and some 900,000 hectares were lost in the 2019 Amazon fires. Flames up to 70m (230ft) in height have been reported. Australia Is Burning: What Caused It? The Situation In Other States In Victoria, the state's Country Fire Authority issued emergency warnings across the region of East Gippsland, telling 30,000 people to leave the area before roads became too dangerous. Fires have been burning in the area since late November, but the latest warnings for East Gippsland are of bushfire-driven thunderstorms, which would increase the risk of the fires spreading further out of control. In the small town of Mallacoota, residents fled to the beach following a warning siren, with only a change in the wind direction keeping the fire from reaching them on the shore. In the state of South Australia, the Cudlee Creek fire is reported to have destroyed more than 80 homes in the Adelaide Hills region. The fires are also thought to have destroyed up to a third of the vines that provide grapes for the Adelaide Hills wine industry. Australia Is Burning. Are Bushfires Getting Worse? Many Australians are asking that very question and whether these fires are linked to climate change - but the science is complicated. Scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate will contribute to fires becoming more frequent and more intense. Australia's deadliest bushfire disaster was 'Black Saturday' in February 2009, when some 180 people died in Victoria. Data shows that Australia has warmed overall by slightly more than one degree Celsius since 1910, with most of the heating occurring since 1950, the Bureau of Meteorology says. Australia is getting warmer. Australia is Burning. Hottest Day On Record Australia broke its all-time temperature record twice in December. An average maximum of 40.9C was recorded on 17 December, broken a day later by 41.9C, both beating 2013's record of 40.3C. By the end of the month, every state had measured temperatures above 40C - including Tasmania. Wildfires Globally: Australia. Maximum temperature 29 December 2019 The main climate driver behind the heat has been a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) - an event where sea surface temperatures are warmer in the western half of the ocean, cooler in the east. The difference between the two temperatures is currently the strongest in 60 years. Wildfires Globally. Are wildfires good? Wildfires, when allowed to burn in areas where they do not impact human development, are regenerative for the forest, revitalizing for the watershed, renew the soil, and reset the clock for the ecosystem. As a researcher on wildfire and streams let me recount the many ways that natural wildfire is beneficial. Brazil, The Amazon, And Indonesia Are Burning: Intentionally Set Fires The Amazon, though, is a perfect example of a wildfire that was set intentionally. Brazil is looking to expand its presence on the economic world stage, for instance, through its growing export of soybeans and cattle. These agricultural products require more land, which can, in the Brazilians’ minds, easily be obtained by ‘borrowing’ it from the rainforest. Recommended:  Brazil Is Burning For Your Beef: Amazon’s Nature, Our Luxury New president Jair Bolsonaro is more focused on the economic gains and is, in doing so, rolling back all kinds of measures that were put in place to protect both the environment as well as the indigenous groups living in the forest. All of this has undoubtedly added to fears of further deforestation, and while numbers of the exact amount of forest that has gone to waste are not yet available, concerns are that it will only get worse in years to come. Firefighters at a palm oil plantation in Pekanbaru, Indonesia Southeast Asia is looking at a similar issue. Under pressure to live up to rising demand, more and more agricultural land is ‘forged’ in countries like Sumatra, Borneo, and Malaysia. Up to 71% of so-called peat forests have gone to waste in the past three decades, making room for farms producing palm oil. This hazardous practice does not only significantly add to global warming, as peat releases some of the most damaging and polluting gases, it also poses a significant risk to those living around it. Although the government has attempted to call a halt to this trend, it has not had much of an effect yet: as wildfires are back in full force this year. Recommended:  Amazon’s Fires, Madonna And DiCaprio: Questions & Answers The Arctic Is Burning An area that is new to wildfires in the Arctic, including Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. These areas have not dealt with the issue previously. Still, they are facing the worst effects of global warming thus far - with temperatures rising to record heights and plants and vegetation becoming drier than they have ever been. Combined with the increased likelihood of lightning, it is kind of like throwing a lighted match into a stack of hay.   In total, 180 megatons of carbon dioxide have been emitted as a result of the Arctic wildfires. This massive number is a multiple of the amount as emitted by entire countries. This is substantially speeding up global warming, the very same thing causing the Arctic to suffer so severely from wildfires and melting glaciers. Wildfires Globally. Why don't trees burn in fires? Trees in fire-prone areas develop thicker bark, in part, because thick bark does not catch fire or burn easily. The species also drops lower branches as the trees grow older, which helps prevent fire from climbing up and burning the green needles higher up the tree. Indigenous leaders call for Arctic cooperation against wildfires. California And Africa Are Burning. The Seasonal Cycle Of Burning One other category of wildfires is those that are expected and - one could say - even needed. The western part of the United States and Africa, to mention just a few, have a seasonal cycle of fires that actually ‘replenish’ the landscape. Take the lodgepole pines, for instance, a staple tree that requires the wildfire heat to release its seeds. In Sub-Saharan Africa, savanna ecosystems are used to their periodical ‘burn’ and will flourish once again not long after the fires have passed. America Is Burning: California This does, however, not mean that we should stand by and idly watch those wildfires destroy large pieces of land. Often, the root cause will be accidental - like someone dropping a cigarette or a campfire gone wrong. This still sets in motion an event that is potentially dangerous and disastrous to the surrounding area, and that is bound to become even more so in years to come as the direct result of climate change. Research has shown that the Californian wildfires are a staggering 500 percent larger than they would have been without it. They are unnecessarily massive, so to speak, endangering both human and animal lives in the process. Wildfires Globally. What plants grow after a fire? Fire-activated Seeds Perhaps the most amazing fire adaptation is that some species actually require fire for their seeds to sprout. Some plants, such as the lodgepole pine, Eucalyptus, and Banksia, have serotinous cones or fruits that are completely sealed with resin. Siberia, Africa, Australia, Are Burning. The World Is On Fire While it may feel and look as if our world is quite literally on fire, one should always consider the root cause first. And while some of those vast wildfires that have been raging in the past months have other reasons, there are a few that can already be traced back to global warming directly - and all of them can, without a doubt, be considered a significant contributor. Funny how it works: global warming-induced wildfires ending up accelerating that very same phenomenon. However, one might wonder if ‘funny’ really is the most appropriate word. Recommended:  Climate Change And Its Effects Like Droughts: The Heat Is On Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about sustainability? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage.'
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