Because the forests in Siberia and California are burning every year and will continue to burn

Heat and fires

At least one $ 10 million mansion in California burned down this spring. Homes in the famous Californian settlement of Montecito, where Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live, are almost impossible to insure due to the high risk of forest fire. Indeed, fires in California of varying degrees of devastation are burning every year. In 2018, an entire city called Paradise burned down in Silicon Valley with a population of 27,000. The forests of Siberia are burned every year in Russia. Forest fires are raging around the world – in Italy, Argentina, Greece and Australia, and usually every year in the same areas.

Fires themselves are a natural process that helps forests regenerate: remove old trees to make room for new forest. However, the scale of fires around the Earth is increasing every year, which is not the case for natural reasons. The human factor and the increase in the average temperature of the Earth cause an imbalance in the climate system. According to the Global Forest Watch, in 2021, 25,252 hectares of forest area were destroyed by wildfires worldwide – this is the largest loss ever recorded.

Now, in addition to the human factor, climate change has become one of the reasons for the worsening of the problem of forest fires. Thus, in India, fires destroyed about 5662 hectares of forest. Anjay Srivastav, the country’s Minister of Forests, explained: “Forests are usually wet in April. This time, however, the last rain came in February. The deficit of rainfall in April this year was 90-94% compared to 84% in the corresponding period last year. The pine forests are creaking with dryness, zero humidity – only one spark is enough and the whole forest is lit.

Dmitry Fedorov, director of the Green Civilization Environmental Center, believes that the biggest fires in Siberia are caused not so much by humans as by natural and climatic factors. lightning strikes (lightning), but at the same time, the rainfall is minimal and practically does not reach the ground. This natural phenomenon is formed when the temperature remains above 30 ° C for a long time and the humidity is below 40%.

In the state of New Mexico, thousands of people were forced to flee their homes by a fire that some suspect was the result of a planned arson attack by the state government. Deliberate fires are designed to destroy vegetation and reduce the risk of fires, and experts say things rarely go wrong in such cases. However, the situation can get out of control due to climate change. “In the drought-stricken western United States, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find days with ideal conditions for controlled arson,” John Kupfer, a professor of geography at the University of South Carolina, told the Washington Post. “In rare cases, conditions change suddenly and the planned arson escalates into huge forest fires,” said State Forest Service spokesman Wade Muelhoff. “It’s important to learn from this experience.”

It seems that when it comes to forest fires, there is no lack of sad experience. If the lessons learned from this helped, fires would have long since learned to be prevented. However, according to the UN forecast, fires in the world will become more frequent and intense and by 2100 the chance of catastrophic fires will increase by 50%. At the same time, fires can affect areas that have not yet been affected. The UN also warns that more frequent fires will exacerbate the problem of climate change due to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

How do people fight fires?

Each country has different methods of combating such fires, but preventing them is somewhat more difficult than it seems at first glance. Controlled fires are one way to prevent fires, but as the experience of New Mexico has shown, they are not as safe.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change of India lists the following methods: construction of observatories for early detection, development of fire alarms, creation and maintenance of fire lines. It is also recommended to use telescoping technology and satellite data of medium resolution spectrometer (MODIS) for the detection of active forest fires.

In Greece, they are currently dealing with the rescue of monuments and historical heritage, which, due to impending fires, may be lost. Lana Mendoni, Greece’s culture minister, said 80% of the 21,000 archeological sites and monuments across the country have already been cleared of dry grass and flammable materials.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, a futurist, climate change expert and former director of the RVC Foundation, notes that historically, firefighting systems around the world have not been actively developed and the main focus has been on reducing the man-made factor in fires. in settlements and buildings of people, for which precautionary measures have been taken (liquidations, for example). “Nobody was particularly concerned about wildfires – that requires huge resources and serious technical support.”

Olga Konovalova, Deputy Head of the Department of Research and Development at the Center for Marine Research of Lomonosov Moscow State University, believes that in order to avoid fires, it is necessary to start working on the human factor. glass that can cause fires, this means that it is impossible to defeat the fires with educational posters. It is necessary to develop clear rules of conduct, to transfer to each person walking in the forest and to determine the responsibility for actions that lead to fire. In fact, we have to fight for a zero human footprint in natural ecosystems. ”

In addition, global monitoring is helping to assess the scale of fires and develop predictive models, Kuznetsov said. “Systems have been developed that use drones or fixed surveillance systems to monitor fires, which can extinguish them quickly without allowing them to develop into large fires,” he said. “The sooner it is possible to locate the source of the fire and predict its spread, the cheaper and faster it will be to make the necessary efforts to extinguish it.”

One such tracking system has been developed, for example, by Virginia Tech graduates who have developed a Geographic Information System (GIS) that creates, manages, analyzes and displays different types of data that can trigger a fire. The GIS team examines current and historical congestion patterns, traffic patterns, rainfall, snowfall, wind intensity and direction and more to find the best answers to prevent and extinguish fires.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the FireAID project this year, which aims to create a dynamic risk map using artificial intelligence, optimize resource allocation and develop best strategies for tackling the threat of forest fires. To do this, the WEF will create a community of expert scientists and inventors of various profiles from around the world.

As climate change is a major factor in exacerbating the problem of fires in the current context, most environmentalists believe that the only way to dramatically improve the situation is to work on programs to slow these changes: “Unfortunately , other ways impossible to prevent fire in areas of the forest away from people “.

Evgeny Kuznetsov also believes that the main task of mankind in fighting fires is the systemic impact on the local and global climate – reducing global warming and increasing local soil moisture. “The biggest experiment in this series is the Chinese space project ‘Heavenly River’ (Tianhe), which has successfully increased rainfall in China,” he said. “The project aims to channel the water vapor in the air over the Yangtze River basin north into the Yellow River basin, where it falls as rainfall under the influence of rain-forming factors. According to the new plan developed, by 2025 the area of ​​soils with artificial irrigation will increase to 5.5 million km2 (one and a half times the area of ​​India).

However, this project is causing concern in India and other neighboring countries, where they fear that the Chinese project will negatively affect their rainfall, because without artificial effects, the rain would fall on their lands.

The cost of forest fires

Forest fires cause damage not only to the environment but also to the economy. And although in Russia most of the large fires occurred in forest areas where no industrial logging took place and which are at a considerable distance from settlements, there are still consequences.

The impact of damage must be viewed from many angles: both space destruction and carbon footprint absorption, says Sofia Egorova, Head of Premium Clients at Vector X. For example, an increase in its gas levels in a country where fires are raging may be reflected in the form of new requirements and climate charges, in addition to those already in place.

In California, more than 4.6 million properties – about 41% – have a 0.03% or higher chance of being hit by fire this year. This percentage is expected to increase by 7.6% in 30 years and include more than 5.5 million properties, according to forecasts by the First Street Foundation.

Forest fires not only destroy property and forests, but also cause serious damage to biodiversity and ecology, as well as human health. In Krasnoyarsk, for example, health authorities found that the concentration of fine particles in the air exceeded levels considered dangerous to human health due to smoke from forest fires. Evgeny Kuznetsov also speaks about this: “Now the degradation of forest cover is already a significant threat to the climate and human life. The local climate is changing, for example, tornadoes have appeared in Primorye, as in the United States, the local climate is changing. “Smoke from fires adversely affects people’s lives and the number of cases of lung cancer and other oncological diseases is increasing.”

In general, due to forest fires, air quality deteriorates even in areas quite far from the fires, where residents do not see the smoke directly. Thus, according to a study by the US National Academy of Sciences, in 2021, air quality in America has deteriorated significantly due to fires. Thus, fires indirectly affect the economy and due to the general deterioration of the health of a large number of people. In 2021, fires broke records for carbon dioxide emissions and smoke from fires in Russia reached the North Pole for the first time, according to NASA.

Leave a Comment