Wildfires such as those in the Amazon Rainforest and Indonesia have made the headlines this year. The increase in numbers of wildfires is largely a consequence of human activities. Humans are trying to gain access to the wildland. Meanwhile, governments in some areas weaken environmental protection policies for economic gain. However, another important cause of these fires is global warming.
How is Global Warming Increasing the Risk of Wildfires
Wildfires occur naturally in many forestial ecosystems. Yet, when the number of fires rises as a result of human activities, the damage to the flora and fauna can become irrecoverable. However, how exactly does global warming contribute to increasing the number of wildfires?
Global warming means higher temperatures. This makes hot and dry locations even more so. The hot periods of the year tend to last longer, while colder ones become shorter, thus resulting in longer wildfire season – i.e. from five to seven months. .
Moreover, higher temperatures make the soil – and everything that grows on it – drier. This leads to more severe, frequent and bigger wildfires. If we add to these human activities, the rise in wildfires does not look so surprising.
Just to make matters worse, these wildfires contribute in their turn to global warming. The fires release a large amount of carbon in the atmosphere, mostly because the areas involved already have biomass rich in carbon. Therefore, the burning of these territories increases the quantity of carbon released into the atmosphere. Moreover, the carbon released by the fires contributes to making global warming worse – as carbon particles capture heat and increase the rate at which the surface of the Earth warms up.
What Can We Do?
The lives of many people and the preservation of our planet depend on whether this never-ending loop is dealt with and stopped. Wildfires are dangerous for the health of people living in the areas concerned, because of the poor air quality. Moreover, many people end up losing their homes because of fires.
To slow down the effects of global warming, governments worldwide should work together and come up with solutions that can satisfy – more or less – everybody. Not surprisingly, this is proving hard and the process may take more time than we might have at our disposal. The question is not whether our planet will survive the hardships we have put it through – because it most likely will. The question is whether we will survive as a species if we keep on delaying appropriate measures.