Wildfires are breaking out all over the world – Western United States, India, Australia, the Amazon – and it’s only getting worse. According to the UN Environment Program, wildfires could increase globally by a third by 2050 and by over a half by 2100. Even places that one would consider safe from this issue are said to be effected: Areas like the Arctic and the tropics are all said to face major increases in fires.
How Climate Change plays into it:
It’s a damaging cycle. Climate change itself causes droughts and higher temperatures across the globe, making it easy for fires to ignite and spread. Successively, those wildfires release more carbon into the atmosphere, there’s a reduction in carbon sequestration with the loss of trees. These, in turn, fuel climate change.
As mentioned previously, the Amazon rainforest is experiencing more and more forest fires: both from purposeful burning after deforestation and the forest’s increasing vulnerability for fires. In just this past August alone, there have been over 30,000 forest fires.
The Amazon is essential player in the world, regulating the oxygen and carbon cycles (it produces around 6% of the world’s oxygen!) In addition, its shear land coverage makes it a vital carbon sink, absorbing large quantities of carbon dioxide.
We are approaching the critical tipping point, the point of no return. Scientists say that when 20-25% of the Amazon is lost, the Amazon will have fully lost its ability to regenerate even with human intervention because the Amazon is experiencing dieback, it’s losing its resiliency. Soon it will no longer be able to handle the immense pressure we put on it. It is a global crisis, but at this time, Brazil’s government, led by a president who seeks economic gain from the forest’s resources over its preservation, is adamant that this is a domestic issue.
As I write this, I see how tragic this all seems. It is, but it’s not all bad. With the media pushing out story after story of climate disasters, we forget often about progress and efforts that have been made. I’ll have a post coming soon about some good, some positives happening with the environment today, so stay tuned!