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RISING WILDFIRES- A reckoning for lack of Climate Action

~Shayadri Singh

“Humanity should not remain insensitive to the forest fire or wildfire every year. Unless we act, the loss of biodiversity and extinction of herbs, birds and animals and the pains of the trees, birds, animals and the poor is also an alarming signal for the extinction of humanity itself.”- Amit Ray, Nuclear Weapons Free World Peace on the Earth


From the very nascency of human existence, nature and human beings have always found a common ground to co-exist, however not to our surprise the relationship soon turned out to be an exploitative one from the human’s side with every successive year. Similarly, fire and humans have co-existed from the very day when humans discovered fire with the use of nature. The balance which was once achieved between nature and human beings no more exists, there has been ruthless exploitation by the humans of the earth’s resources leading to several manmade disasters in the world. With several developments in the world that is rather showing the result of regression when it comes to the environment needs serious attention, and calls for a stringent Climate Action to protect of whatever’s that’s been left to us.


“Climate warming from increasing greenhouse gas emissions is forecast to dramatically increase the risk of very large, damaging wildfires over the next several decades, a new NOAA-funded study says.”


With the natural mechanism of the climate being hindered by the unmonitored behaviours of the human population, the natural phenomena of wildfires that were once considered beneficial for several reasons are now taking another turn and are being seen as catastrophic because of their uncontrollable nature triggered by several human activities. Every country must take action towards the developmental activities that do not follow eco-friendly strategies. Nobody talks about the urgency of a solid climate action until bombarded with a damaging disaster. Increasing wildfires in the world are the bi-product of human modifications of the environment selfishly which have deemed wildfires to no more appear to be a natural but a human-induced phenomenon. The wildfires what used to be a rare weather phenomenon has been occurring more frequently in recent decades because of climate change. For several decades the earth has been increasingly used in a very anthropocentric perspective that has led to the world facing an environmental crisis in the middle of a pandemic and an urgent need to act towards protecting the environment because we’re already in deep waters, and if not now then there’s no tomorrow for the planet. From mid-2019 and early 2020, large bushfires ravaged Australia for months, devastating towns, rural communities and livelihoods. It was the broadest and most prolonged bushfire season in modern Australian history. The intensity of this wildfire thirty-four people was killed and 3,000 homes destroyed as an area covering 37 million acres was destroyed across the southeast of Australia, this also included millions of hectares of bush, forest and national parks that got burned, leading to death and displacement of a very large number of animals affecting Australia's largest cities including Melbourne and Sydney. The wildfires of Australia majorly affected as mentioned above three billion animals. According to a report released by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), nearly three billion animals were killed or displaced by Australia's unprecedented 2019-20 wildfires. The report called it "one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history". With the increase in the greenhouse gases all over the world, the temperature of California has exponentially increased resulting in several fires in California that were recorded as the largest fires in the state history. According to an article in The New York Times, “California has become Ground Zero for Climate Disasters”. The impetus for these rising wildfires is the problematic engineering and land management due to increasing growth of the state exposing the vulnerabilities and developments that were not planned on a proper premise keeping the sensitivity of the environment hand in hand with the development plan this has left California vulnerable for wildfires, the enormous increase in the temperature and prolonged droughts and water scarcity.


“The 2018 wildfire season in California was the deadliest and most destructive on record, burning almost 1.9 million acres—an area 2.5 times the size of Rhode Island and more area than had ever burned in California within the past 50 years. Most scientists, managers, and firefighters would tell you that last year's fire season was not a surprise.” - Jeffrey Kane


Uttarakhand in India experienced wildfire this year with little coverage by the media for the same, over 1,000 fires ravage 1,369 hectares of forest cover in Uttarakhand, the main reason was foreseen rising temperature and hot winds making Uttarakhand the natural beauty full of forests and wildlife inhabiting several endangered species, susceptible to wildfires and landslides.


“There can be fires of choice or chance. We can have good fires or bad fires. We can ready ourselves to truly manage fire or scramble in blustering incredulity. But the fires are coming.”- Stephen J. Pyne


It is inevitable to acknowledge that this unprecedented increase in the wildfires is due to climate change and needs strong action from the government of every country and the population to act on it and preserve the burning planet. There have been several efforts by the state to suppress these fires in the fire-prone ecosystems but this has only resulted in a reverse phenomenon leading to catastrophic fire with a large magnitude in these places. Heat and Dryness are the two driving forces behind these rising wildfires, accompanying together due to the climate change that is happening all over the world. To stop this suffering of the planet, there needs to be a collective climate action around the world. The Metronome’s Digital Clock in Union Square has been reprogrammed and shows the Climate Clock to present the years left to prevent the global warming effects to be irreversible in the world, depicting the idea that earth has a deadline and we’re nearly left with little more than 7 years. In a world where dealing with two contagious problems of Covid-19 and the wildfires may seem like an overwhelming experience but it’s high time that we come up with a comprehensive climate action to curb these greenhouse gases that have the potential to cause these disasters. There needs to be a great focus on providing ing license to only those industries that do not emit greenhouse gases which is detrimental for the climate, so strict regulation of the industries to follow the guidelines to protect the environment. Create zones less-fuel in fire-prone ecosystems. There needs to be strong discouragement of settlements near the fire-prone areas to reduce fuel load through smart zoning rules. Increasing the resources to fire fighting and fire prevention. With these implementations and several others that have been in action, there is no denial in the fact that these rising in wildfires is something that we all saw coming with the flimsy climate action plan that the world was following that helped little too less in protecting the environment. The world the nature for granted and pushed it on the edge that has caused these unprecedented disasters all over the world. With an active climate action plan to tackle the global warming and its effect is something which is indispensable and needs our attention because this will get only worse in terms of the disaster until we collectively act on it and reduce activities that produce excessive emissions. We have had our share of the lesson with these recently encountered wildfires that have caused severe damage to the environment in the absence of a properly implemented climate action.


Bibliography


1) 2020, http://renaudbarbero.weebly.com/uploads/2/1/5/5/21555380/barbero_etal_ijwf.pdf. Accessed 24 Sept 2020

2) 2020, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258769431_Fire_and_Society_A_Comparative_Analysis_of_Wildfire_in_Greece_and_the_United_States. Accessed 24 Sept 2020

3) "The Past, Present, And Future Of California Wildfires | Humboldt The Magazine Of Humboldt State University | Fall 2019". Www2.Humboldt.Edu, 2020, http://www2.humboldt.edu/magazine/fall2019/californiawildfires.html

4) Keywood, Melita et al. "Fire In The Air: Biomass Burning Impacts In A ChangingClimate’Academia.Edu2020, https://www.academia.edu/43400186/Fire_in_the_Air_Biomass_Burning_Impacts_in_a_Changing_Climate.







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