Every single day, a new natural disaster seems to be dominating the news – in the past month, wildfire after wildfire have lit up our screens, choked our cities, burned our woodlands, and even tinted our moon.
If you’re a fan of trivia, you may have heard about the city of Yakutia, as it is the world’s coldest. Having your nose exposed during the winter months here is considered dangerous, and people have to adjust their wake-up calls to make time for putting on as many layers as possible.
And now? Well, the city is currently locked under a haze blanket caused by wildfires that are ripping through the nearby forest, this after weeks of record temperatures. The sheer volume of smoke being generated is so great, that its travelling as far as Alaska – that is, if you were to draw the shortest possible straight line between the two places, it would take you more than 2 and a half days of driving at 70km/h without stopping, and still finding a city half covered in the same smoke that was bellowing from the fire you escaped. The wildfires in Yakutia have consumed more than 6.5 million acres since the beginning of the year, according to figures published by the country’s Aerial Forest Protection Service. That’s the equivalent of roughly 5 million football fields.*
According to Greenpeace Russia, almost 19 million hectares of land have burnt since the beginning of the year, an area larger than Greece. The amount of woodland on fire has more than quadrupled in a week, according to Russia’s state-run news agency Tass. Researchers are afraid that the region’s high temperatures will have a long-term impact, especially on Arctic permafrost. Ground that has been frozen for at least two years is known as permafrost. It includes a significant quantity of organic material, which begins to decompose when thawed, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas, into the environment.**
Currently, 79 large fires have burned over 1.5 million acres across 12 states – an area that would easily fit Malta 20 times in it. More than 21,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents across the country.
Eight fires have burnt over 475,000 acres in Oregon so far, officials say, in a fire season unlike any they’ve seen before. Because the Bootleg Fire is so big and produces so much energy and heat, it’s creating its own clouds and thunderstorms. It has evolved into a gigantic complex with its own weather, spewing dense smoke 3,000 kilometers across the continent to the other end.**
The Canadian province of British Columbia has declared an emergency due to wildfires there effective Wednesday. Nearly 300 active wildfires have been reported in the province. Firefighters are waging a near-impossible battle to smother the infernos with water bombs and hoses, and preventing their spread by digging firebreaks.
Whereas the continent’s northern regions are experiencing several floodings, the south is seeing fires at almost unprecedented strenghts. Devastating wildfires have , torn through the Spanish and Greek countryside and forced around 1,000 people from their homes on the Italian island of Sardinia. In Sardinia, 7,500 people and over 20 aircraft have been deployed to fight the fires. Italy has also received support from neighboring countries, with France and Greece deploying four planes to provide assistance in putting out the flames. In Greece, over 50 forest fires have burned in the past week, with more than 700 firefighters being deployed to take control of the situation.
In Spain, more than 1,700 hectares have burned in the regions of Conca de Barberà and Anoia, more than 2,500 hectares in the central east region of Castilla-La Mancha, and Catalonian firefighters continue to defend the region’s perimeter against oncoming blazes.
According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), “more severe fire weather and, as a consequence, substantial expansion of the fire-prone area and longer fire seasons are projected in most regions of Europe, in particular for high emissions scenarios.”
“The increase in fire danger is projected to be particularly large in western-central Europe, but the absolute fire danger remains highest in southern Europe,” the EEA said in their forest fires assessment.
And that is only part of what’s going on. The flames are part of a cyclical pattern of climate change. Not only is climate change fueling the flames, but their smoldering releases even more carbon into the sky, exacerbating the problem. “By mid-July, the overall projected emissions are already greater than many prior years’ totals for summer months, indicating that this is a very persistent problem,” said Mark Parrington, senior scientist at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.**
We are seeing first hand what scientists have been warning about for years. Wildfires are becoming larger and more intense and they are happening in places that aren’t used to them. Most of Europe, the Western US, southwest Canada and some regions of South America experienced drier-than-average conditions in June, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, making tinderboxes of forests.
Written by: Anonymous