The temperatures recorded these days in Lytton, Canada and Pakistan are an alert to the world

This year 2021 we have seen unprecedented phenomena related to excessive heat, which has surprised the north of the planet. The situation has turned dramatic in the small town of Lytton, on June 29, where the temperature touched 49.5 ° C, causing more than a hundred deaths, just eight days after entering the boreal summer, the highest measurement ever in Canada.

Lytton is usually cold, where air conditioners are almost non-existent and rather houses are built to retain heat. As a side effect, it has started more than 240 wildfires in British Columbia, most of which are still burning.

In India, millions of people in the Northwest were affected by heat waves. Moscow reported its highest temperature in June of 34.8 °C on the 23rd. Siberian farmers are struggling to prevent their crops from being lost in an ongoing heat wave. A city in Pakistan reaches 52 °C, a temperature that borders the limits that humans can withstand.

News headlines that speak for themselves

Unprecedented heat, hundreds of deaths and a destroyed city. Climate change is scorching the northern hemisphere”, CNN, Jul 5, 2021

Four dead in Cyprus’ worst forest fire in decades, DW, Jul 7, 2021

Heat wave worsens across the American West, raising concerns of power outages and wildfires, CNBC Jun 17, 2021

California fires 2021: What to know about this year’s wildfires  San Francisco Chronicle, Jun 30, 2021

Causes, consequences, and characteristics of forest fires

Causes. Scientists have confirmed that the main cause of mega-wildfires is increased global warming. Warmer air causes drought, which makes trees and other plants burn more easily.

Local consequences. At the level of proximity, mega-fires have a devastating impact. Among the most visible effects is the destruction of ecosystems, habitats, and urbanizations, with serious damage to flora, death of a large number of animals and in many cases significant human displacement. Among its harmful effects is also air pollution in places near and far.

Global consequences. Forest fires release significant amounts of smoke into the atmosphere, which is high in carbon dioxide (CO2). This increases the anthropogenic greenhouse effect and global warming.

Characteristics of a forest fire. A mega forest fire is characterized by its great extension, speed, enormous destructive capacity, unexpected changes of direction and its ability to overcome roads, waterways and even firebreaks built precisely to prevent its spread. In its fast race, a mega forest fire can attack towns and cities, cause great calamities to its inhabitants, in addition to spreading smoke to distant areas, which in extreme cases has even gone around the planet.

Management of vegetation fires. How to prevent forest fires

Due to the magnitude and frequency of forest fires, these become a global problem and for this reason global management procedures are required, despite the fact that actions must be local and focused on the problems of each region.

Here we present the FAO document, which contains the five fundamental elements to manage fires.

“There is increasing recognition that fire management should involve an integrated approach (“integrated fire management” with five key elements (also known as the five Rs): review (monitoring and analysis); risk reduction (prevention); readiness (preparedness); response (suppression); and recovery. In all these elements, forest managers have important roles to play.”

Full text in: Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Toolbox, FAO.

Conclusions

The deforestation of forests, wildfires, drought, and desertification are today inseparable and global phenomena. SGK-PLANET have said several times that aggressive deforestation is the greatest threat to humanity and other species. The reason is that among the main causes of climate change, felling of trees is the most difficult to combat, because forests belong to countries and their governments wield the intervention of national sovereignty to avoid any interference. It should be the citizens of these nations who pressure their governments to end the destruction of the forests. Until this situation is resolved, deforestation will continue to be a big problem.

Sandor Alejandro Gerendas-Kiss

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