New research warns that as wildfires increase, previously unaffected areas could be hit by blazes.
Wildfires have impacted the Amazon, California, and Australia to a great extent, and they are likely to become more common and intense occurrences, new research warns.
Raising the alarm over the wildfires that are likely to spread even in previously unaffected areas, a report by the United Nations and GRID-Arendal predicted a four percent increase by 2030 and a 30 percent increase by 2050.
But why is the world not able to tackle the apparent threat?
The escalating climate change
Wildfires and climate change are “mutually exacerbating,” the report says, warning that climate change is made worse by wildfires and wildfires are made worse by the impacts of climate change.
Other factors include a constant change in land use and land management practices, as well as changing demographics.
“Climate change has led to numerous environmental changes that can increase the frequency and magnitude of dangerous fire weather – increased drought, high air temperatures, low relative humidity, dry lightning, and strong winds, resulting in hotter, drier, and longer fire seasons,” the report said.
“The increase in the frequency and magnitude of dangerous weather conditions are causing vegetation that would not usually burn (e.g., rainforests, permafrost, and peatland swamps) to dry out and combust.”
The last seven years have globally been the hottest on record "by a clear margin," according to the European Union. Globally, 2021 was the fifth hottest year on record, with average temperatures 1.1-1.2C above 1850-1900 levels, the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in a report on Monday.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current level, areas including the Arctic and southern Amazon will face more frequent wildfires, the report warned.
Not enough investment or preventative measures
Over 50 experts who worked on the report stated that although entirely eliminating the risk of wildfires is impossible, much can be done to manage and reduce the risks.
The report suggests that even if governments spare public funding to tackle the wildfires, the spending should be directed wisely to be more effective.
Instead of using the funds on preventative measures, governments are diverting the money to emergency services, the UN experts said.
“Those emergency service workers and firefighters on the frontlines who are risking their lives to fight forest wildfires need to be supported. We have to minimise the risk of extreme wildfires by being better prepared: invest more in fire risk reduction, work with local communities, and strengthen global commitment to fight climate change,” said Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the UN’s Environment Programme.
That’s why the climate experts call upon governments to adopt a “Fire ready formula” that uses two-thirds of the spending for planning, prevention, preparedness and recovery.
Among the preventative measures is managing available fuel before a wildfire breaks out. Planned burning, physical removal, or chemical treatment could reduce the severity of the fires and their impacts, such as respiratory harm in living beings, soil erosion and insufficient water catchment performance.