LOSING THE LUNGS: WILDFIRES IN 2020 AND 2021

2020 was an unforgettable year for many people due to the beginning of the pandemic. Besides the pandemic news, the most shocking and heartbreaking news was the wildfires in different parts of the world. The major wildfires were-

  1. Australia
  2. California
  3. Amazon
  4. Turkey
  5. Greece

The causes for these wildfires are natural or man-made. Natural causes are lightning strikes or caused by high temperatures. Man-made causes are arson or carelessness and for their benefit. Some happened due to agriculture clearing, welding activities, cigarettes and dropped matches, etc. Thousands of acres of land have been destroyed due to the wildfire. The biggest wildfire happened in Siberia in the past week, in which the smoke reached the north pole. Here we will talk about the major wildfires that happened around the world.

AUSTRALIA WILDFIRE

The world woke up to the devastating wildfire in Australia where more than 10 million hectares of land were burned and a billion animals are estimated to die. The wildfire season began in June 2019 and continued through the following spring. Most fires in New South Wales state were extinguished completely by March 2020, with the last fire of the season put out in May in Western Australia. The 2019-20 season came during a major heatwave and one of the country’s worst droughts in decades, fanning the flames and making firefighting conditions particularly difficult.

(Picture courtesy: NY Times)

Experts also say climate change has worsened the scope and impact of natural disasters, weather conditions are growing more extreme, and for years, the fires have been starting earlier in the season and spreading with greater intensity.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE

California has been experiencing wildfire for a long time. Wildfire is increasing due to climate change. As of July 11, 2021, more than 3 times as many acres have burned compared to the previous year through that date. 9,917 wildfires happened in 2020 which can cause global warming. Out of the six largest wildfires in California recorded since 1932, five occurred in 2020. The largest out of these were in August, called the August Complex fires, and burned an area of about 1,032,264 acres, resulting in one death.

(Picture courtesy: AP)

In an analysis of scientific articles published in January 2020 that established a link between climate change and fire risk, the authors note that natural variability is superimposed on the increasingly warm and dry conditions that have resulted from climate change, which has led to more extreme fires and more extreme fire seasons.

AMAZON WILDFIRE

Amazon forest residing in Brazil, South America is known as the largest rainforest in the world. Every year, a wildfire happens in the Amazon but the wildfire that happened in 2020 was the worst of all. There were a series of forest fires that are affecting Brazil with 44,013 outbreaks of fires. Within the Amazon, 6,315 outbreaks of fire were detected between January and August 2020. It was expected that the health systems of the Amazon region, already overloaded by the COVID-19 pandemic, will be even more overloaded due to respiratory diseases due to smoke emitted by the wildfires.

(Picture courtesy: BBC)

Expertise carried out points that the fires in the Pantanal were started by human action. Between May 28 and August 25, 516 fire points were detected covering an area of 376,416 hectares. In the first seven months of 2020, more than 13,000sq km (5,019sq miles) of the Brazilian Amazon was burned, according to the analysis of satellite data provided by Dr. Michelle Kalamandeen, a tropical ecologist on the Amazon rainforest. The degradation of the Amazon rainforest has profound consequences from climate change to global health.

TURKEY WILDFIRE

Turkey battled deadly wildfires sweeping through the country, forcing tourists to flee in boats and turning the sky red. More than 120 fires have been brought under control, but local and international firefighters battled another seven blazes.

(Picture courtesy: BBC News)

A total of eight people are known to have died. Over the weekend, tourists and residents had to be evacuated from Bodrum and Marmaris, with private boats coming to their rescue as the flames crept closer to the shoreline. Investigators are trying to establish whether some of the fires were started deliberately, amid reports that one suspected arsonist has been detained. The blazes raged for about 2 weeks as Turkey grappled with its worst fire crisis in a decade in august 2021.

GREECE WILDFIRE

The 2021 Greece wildfires are multiple wildfires happening in Greece since early August 2021, and have killed 2 people, injured at least 20 others, and burned dozens of homes, after a historical heatwave for the country with the highest temperatures reaching 47.1 °C.

(Picture courtesy: Reuters)

3 people have been arrested for arson in the respective areas of Athens, Kalamata, and central Greece. On the 9th of August, the prosecutor of Greece’s Supreme Court, Vassilios I. Pliotas, called for an investigation into a possible organized arson plot on the part of a criminal organization after fires ravaged the country for the past week.

As you are reading this article, another wildfire is happening. Earth is losing her lungs day after day. Some of the wildfires happen every year but the worst has been showing up in 2020 and 2021. If these forests are not protected and the law is not strong enough, the earth will not have her lungs anymore. This led to global warming which can bring us to drought and extinction of animals. The future generation needs these forests and nature.

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