Climate Scientists Warn That A Global Wildfire Crisis Is Coming Sooner Than We Think
BY: Jaylene Matais
A major United Nations report predicts that in the coming decades, disastrous wildfires could increase globally as climate change worsens. This is called a “global wildfire crisis.” This assessment was conducted due to recent fires that have ravaged large portions of Australia, the American West, and even the Arctic.
Images including smoke billowing destroyed popular tourist destinations and historical buildings along with hurt and murdered wild animals have become the face of unresolved relations between humans and the environment.
The report, which was conducted by more than 50 researchers from six continents, estimated that dangerous wildfires could increase globally by up to 57 percent by the end of the century with some areas receiving more fire activity than others. This information is warning the general public about the dangers climate change could cause.
The rising temperatures across the country and dryness are the causes of wildfires and they are human-caused.
The need for national and local preparedness is necessary for educating people on how to avoid wildfires from getting out of control. The focus needs to shift from firefighting to forest management in order to prevent
wildfires from ever occurring in the first place
In some regions, such as eastern Australia and the western United States and Canada, have seen more intense wildfires over the last decade and these fires are damaging large areas. Wildfires have even started to occur in areas where wildfires had not been common. These places include Russia, northern India, and Tibet. Although there has been a record of high temperatures and dryness, the effect on fire risks can vary from place to place
Researchers are certain that the heat wave in the Pacific Northwest in 2021 would not have occurred without planetary warming caused by greenhouse-gas emissions.
The researchers also found evidence of climate change on brush fires in Australia and extreme heat and burning in Siberia.
In some areas, warmer temperatures and rainfall can decrease the amount of vegetation that is available to feed fires while in other places decreased humidity can make vegetation more flammable and that causes fires to spread more easily. The United Nations report still predicts a significant increase in wildfires even if most regions manage to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases.
With the current global warming, the likelihood of extreme wildfires could increase by up to a third by 2050 and up to 52 percent by 2100, the report estimates.
If emissions are not curbed and the planet heats up more, wildfire risks could increase by up to 57 percent by the end of the century.
The increase in burning is projected to be significantly large in places including the Arctic, said Douglas I. Kelley, a researcher at the U.K. Center for Ecology & Hydrology who conducted the data analysis for the report.
In regions of the United States and Asia, Dr. Kelly also said that wildfires could increase rapidly as emissions rise there would be vegetation to fuel blazes.
The U.N. report urges governments to become more proactive about fire hazards. Most governments spend more money on managing fires, but spend less on reducing fire risks and helping the communities recover after they were ravaged.
Countries could learn more from Portugal. Portugal created a national fire plan after two blazes killed more than 100 people in 2017. For decades the economic development had caused a decrease in farmland and an expansion of poorly managed forests, making the landscape highly flammable.
Limiting emissions would help prevent more wildfires from occurring and damaging communities, especially low-income communities. Governments also need to spend more of their time reducing the risk of wildfires and how they can be managed.