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Why Are We Still Surprised by Megafires?

Why Are We Still Surprised by Megafires?

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Megafires

With climate change and rising global temperatures, are Megafires the new normal for us?

Megafires and Climate Change

By the end of 2019, many countries all around the world were burning, countries such as Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia, and the United States recorded megafires on unprecedented scales

The vast forest fires in Australia, in the Amazon, California, in Congo basin and Indonesia have drawn the world’s attention to the risks of exposure from long periods of scorching and dry weather – one of the effects of climate change.

The rising global average temperature is now 1.1 ° C higher than at the start of the century. Higher temperature creates, in some parts of the world, drier environments, ever-increasing the likelihood and intensity of forest fires and potentially of the mega-fires.

For those who believe that ecological disaster will somehow be averted, it must also be clear that, over the next decade or so, sustainable development will constitute one of the most significant opportunities in the history of commerce. And innovation will be the name of the game. ~ Stuart L. Hart

 

We define “megafires” as those that cover more than 40,000 hectares or 400 square kilometers and are accelerated by the combination of droughts and high temperatures.

They are generally challenging to contain, and are usually limited only by the amount of vegetation available.

By the end of last year, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia, and the United States all recorded megafires on unprecedented scales.

In 2019, Global Forest Watch registered more than 4.5 million fires worldwide that reached more than 1 square kilometer. They were more than 400,000 fires compared to 2018 and more than twice the number of fires in 2001. Almost all – 96% of the most disastrous 500 megafires of the last decade – occurred during periods of scorching and/or dry weather.



 

Megafires_climate change

 

We are still a long way till the end of the dry season (December to March) in Australia, and this season of forest fires is already heading to be one of the worst ever recorded.

Country reports show that more than 10 million hectares (100,000 square kilometers, an area the size of England) burned in the second week of January, causing human deaths and destroying homes, and pushing some animal species to the threshold of extinction.

Likely, a billion animals died directly or indirectly from the fires, which also caused damage to the Australian economy.

The rise in global temperature was marked by successive heatwaves in the Australian summer. The average maximum temperature across the continent exceeded 40 ° C on 11 days of the month, surpassing the previous record of seven days in 2018. Only four days between 1910 and 2017 had an average above 40 ° C – two in 1972 and two in 2013.

The climatic phenomena of drought and extreme hot spell only increase the risk of further catastrophic fires in Australia.

“Megafires could very well become the new normal as global temperatures continue to rise,” says Niklas Hagelberg, Climate Change Specialist at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

“Governments, companies, industry and civil society in the G20 countries, responsible for 78% of greenhouse gas emissions, must set targets and deadlines for decarbonization”, says Hagelberg.

“We need to embrace the potential and opportunities of a world powered by renewable energy, efficiency technologies, intelligent food systems, and zero-emission transport and buildings.”

The superabundance is an ecological myth that we will never run out of resources, that the Earth, that Gaia, is in this perpetual state of renewal. And the “contagious magic” is the blind belief that this is the case and the reason we’re careering towards ecological disaster. ~ Daniel O’Sullivan

 

The truth is that we live in a Planet that has been heating up. These track record temperatures, heatwaves, and droughts are not unusual anymore, they are the preamble of a new standard.



How will things be in a few decades when we reach 1.5ºC warming?

In communities already devastated by climate change, the threats get aggravated.

As international assistance was urgently called for Australia, a country accustomed to seasonal fires, our humanity seems to be unprepared to face its new reality that is starting to manifest.

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One can only imagine what are the possible measures when climate change begins causing a new wave of Refugees, the ones from countries that are islands and from where their population will have nowhere to go.

Our current year is the year when governments will come together to take stock and their commitments to climate action.

It is the year in which global emissions are expected to fall by 7.6% and continue to decrease each year until 2030 to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5ºC.

These megafires illustrate the state of humanitarian, ecological, and economic disasters in a changing climate. Warming is a dismal reckoning, not just for Australia, but for the entire world that watches them.

“Governments, companies, industry and civil society in the G20 countries, responsible for 78% of greenhouse gas emissions, must set targets and deadlines for decarbonization”, says Hagelberg,  “We need to embrace the potential and opportunities of a world powered by renewable energy, efficiency technologies, intelligent food systems, and zero-emission transport and buildings.”

The recent upsurge of public concern over environmental questions reflects a belated recognition that man has been too cavalier in his relations with nature. Unless we arrest the depredations that have been inflicted so carelessly on our natural systems-which exist in an intricate set of balances-we face the prospect of ecological disaster. ~ Richard M. Nixon

 

Originally published on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) website

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About Earth Activism

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Earth Activism is Catherdal of the Soul initiative established with the desire to provide and spread informational alternatives that create healthy and thriving human communities in the assistance of a regenerative future for our Planet. Through our time, we will become fearlessly curious about our roles as individuals practicing Eco- ministry, community development, and how we might spiritually shepherd our multi-faith groups into a place of related awakening, connection, and community action.  Follow us on our Facebook

 



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