Aug 19, 2019
Environmental satellites are tracking a high number of wildfires covering very large areas of Siberia, Canada and Alaska near or above the Arctic Circle. Over 100 wildfires have been tracked already this summer. Remote forests covering 6.7 million acres of land across six Siberian and eastern regions are currently burning. Such a scale of wildfires is unprecedented in earth's history.
Because of global warming, the earth's average temperature is increasing. The last months saw the warmest June and July on record. But average temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at a much faster rate than the global average. Warmer conditions dry the earth's surface, creating tinder-box conditions, which fuel fires once they have been ignited.
These wildfires create smoke, blocking sunlight from reaching to the earth's surface over very large areas. Carbon particles (soot) emitted from the flames fall back to the snow and ice-covered ground, decreasing its reflectivity. This increases the absorption of solar radiation, accelerating snow and ice melting and further raising ground temperatures when the smoke is cleared out.
These wildfires also drastically increase emissions of carbon dioxide from the earth's surface at levels that can be reached by industrial activities of a mid-sized country like Belgium in a year. All these well-known and well-studied physical and chemical mechanisms create nasty feedback loops that could further exacerbate climate change, working against our survival.
The wildfires not only harmfully affect the ground and weather. They also release harmful pollutants and toxic gases into the atmosphere.
The exacerbation of these wildfires to catastrophic levels is a result of global warming. And global warming is linked with our current social system, the capitalism that exploits the workers and the earth's resources to increase profits for its rich rulers. We must move beyond this social system!