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Fatal threat: Wildfires!

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Fire is horrible but also simple. It takes three components: the right weather and climate conditions, plenty of burnables and a spark.

“People are changing all three of those,” says Jennifer Balch, a fire ecologist at the University of Colorado. More than four out of every five wildfires are caused by people. Climate change is not the only thing going on but, obviously, it is the human -responsible of the ignitions- that cause fires and also climate change… 

Who lights the match, Climate Change?

Climate change heats up the planet. This has been going on since the start of the Industrial Revolution, nearly 200 years ago. Since then, the average increase in the global temparature is above 1.2 – 1.5 degrees celsius. Unfortunately, it keeps on accelerating.

‘Hot air, if it’s not at 100 percent humidity, is like a thirsty sponge: It soaks up water from whatever it touches—plants and soil, lakes and rivers. The hotter and drier the air, the more it sucks up, and the amount of water it can hold increases exponentially as the temperature rises. Small increases in the air’s heat can mean big increases in the intensity with which it pulls out water. Scientists can measure this “vapor pressure deficit” -the difference between how much water the air holds and how much it could hold. If that deficit is cranked up for a long time, soils and vegetation will parch.’

So, climate change has increased fire risk in both direct and indirect ways. When an ignition happens, even if it’s natural or by the hand of a ‘human’, the chances of it spawning a big fire are much higher than they would be, absent climate change.

Today’s fires are both shocking but expected, say scientists. “That’s the tricky thing about fires -it isn’t any one thing that’s causing them. It is multiple puzzle pieces fitting together,” says Balch. Climate change. Forest management. Human behavior. Learning to adapt to the new reality and mitigate risks requires swift, decisive action from many different angles, she says.

Aftermath of the Wildfires

Not only the fire itself but the aftermath is also vital. A particularly destructive fire burns away plants and trees that prevent erosion. If heavy rains occur after such a fire, landslides, ash floes, and flash floods can occur. This can result in property damage outside the immediate fire area, and can affect the water quality of streams, rivers and lakes. Also, a large wildfire, or conflagration, is often capable of modifying the local weather conditions or producing its own weather which can create different risks. 

Once again: Action Matters!

Bottom line: The issue is fatal and sophisticated. We have to think and fix many variables at the same time. 

–       Climate change is critical. We know clearly the negative effects of climate change. Wildfires are the outcome of climate change ignited by humans. We have to take necessary actions against it -immediately.

–       Wildfires are maybe the upmost and scary threat of not only the human kind but the whole living-planet. Animals and plants are also suffering. Australia’s bushfire crisis (June 2019 to February 2020) was one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history. The fires killed or displaced nearly 3 billion animals.

–       It is the responsibility of humans to protect the planet with the whole eco-system and the living-beings.  

–       Awareness, education, knowledge and preparation is the key for the battle. Knowing how to fight and what to do with the support of scientific foresight, and for sure being always prepared is the key!

Sources: 

https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/3-billion-animals-harmed-by-australia-s-fires

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/climate-change-increases-risk-fires-western-us

https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/wildfires.html

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