It’s time to start giving climate change the attention it deserves.
Human-caused climate change has led to severe droughts and extreme temperatures that are making countries all over the world vulnerable to wildfires – and today, we are not only seeing, but living the consequences of it.
According to the WWF, humans are responsible for more than 75% of all wildfires. While in the Northern Hemisphere most fires are caused by negligence, in regions around the equator fires are often started with the purpose of clearing land for agriculture.
How Wildfires Harm Diverse Ecosystems
Wildfires don’t only harm land and vegetation, they also bring terrible consequences for the societal and economic landscape surrounding them. Wildfires derails supply chains, tourism, real estate, and other industries.
Economists have estimated that Australia’s 2019 wildfires, for instance, have cost the country’s tourism industry approximately $2.9 billion. At the same time, it’s predicted that areas heavily impacted by wildfires have experienced a significant decrease in property values between 10 and 20%. Regions all over the world are burning. Even though the nature of each wildfire is unique, there is a common denominator in each one of them: human-driven activities such as the burning of fossil-fuels that has made the world drier and hotter, making us more vulnerable to flare up.
Countries & Regions Around the World Burning Up:
Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest
Highly known as the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazonas plays a critical role in regulating the planet’s global temperatures, carbon-budget, and rainfall patterns. The Amazon Rainforest is, practically, the Earth’s lungs, as it serves as the ‘air-conditioner’ fighting to balance the amount of heat in the atmosphere. Agriculture is one the main reasons for these constant and destructive fires. It has been estimated that the intentionally-caused wildfires have destroyed an area of land the size of 8.4 million soccer fields to deforestation.
Images are a courtesy from: CNN and BBC News.
The Arctic and Siberia
The Arctic and Siberia are one of the coldest places on Earth – and it would pose a huge threat for humanity if these wildfires continue. The region’s strong winds and increasing temperatures have worsened the already troubled situation. New York Times has reported that the Arctic has been warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the globe. These increasing temperatures increases the region’s likelihood of lightnings, which is a major source of fires.
Images are a courtesy from: CNN and The New York Times.
Paraguay is home to South America’s second largest and most important rainforest, the Chaco. Just as the Amazonas, it plays a vital role in regulating the world’s temperature and fighting the carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere. Yet, the recent fires have been uncontrollable: thousands of acres of land have been burned, countless crops have been dissipated, innumerous wildlife has been lost, tourism has suffered, and the economy (which is mainly driven by agriculture and cattle) has been heavily impacted. As a consequence, the country’s air has been filled with harmful smoke.
Images are a courtesy from: Ultima Hora, La Nacion, and ABC Color
Greenpeace Russia informs that a land area greater than the size of the entire country of Greece has been lost to wildfires in Russia. More than 47 million acres of land have been lost and countless communities have been endangered. Harmful smoke has been spreading to major cities, which just as in Paraguay, might lead to healthcare complications to the civilian population.
Images are a courtesy from: BBC News, Greenpeace Russia, and NBC News.
As millions of acres of land are being lost to wildfires in Australia, it’s estimated that more than 30 people have lost their lives and thousands of families lost their homes this year. Animal life, on the other hand, has also suffered, as it’s estimated that more than a hundred million animals haven’t survived the fires.
Images are a courtesy from: CNN and The New York Times
West Coast, USA
In California, Washington, and Oregon, more than 200 buildings have been destroyed and more than 75,000 residents have been asked to evacuate, according to NCB News. In California alone, more than 3.6 million acres of land have been burned. At the same time, The Wall Street Journal reports that wildfires in the West Coast have decimated California’s wine industry.
Images are a courtesy from CNN.
Colorado’s has recently had two enormous wildfires: the Cameron Peak Fire and the Mullen Fire. While the Cameron Peak Fire has burned more than 125,000 acres of land, the Mullen Fire has devastated more than 97,000 acres of vegetation. Both fires haven’t been contained yet, according to Fox21News. Not only wildlife and vegetation have been heavily impacted, but also the civilian population, as contaminated air has spread across all major cities in Colorado.
Images are a courtesy from Fox21News.
Home to one of the world’s oldest and most biodiverse tropical forests, Indonesia’s recent wildfires have been ringing the alarm bell. Rainforests keeps on being deforested mainly for palm oil plantations, upsetting nature’s balance of oxygen. The sad part, however, is that most of these fires are intentionally-caused.
Images are a courtesy from The New York Times.
An Existential Crisis
People tend to believe that everyone is at fault when dealing with climate change. Yet, that is not the case.
If everyone were at fault, then there would be no one responsible for it. The fact is, however, that climate change is a human-driven crisis. It’s not something that’s happening out of nowhere.
It’s the companies, leaders, decision-makers, and other executives that have placed greed and profits ahead of the common good that are responsible for what the world is going through. It’s these selfish people that, knowing what the consequences of their money-seeking decisions would be and decided to go ahead anyway, that have led the world to its current situation.
We need leaders guided by human values, not profit. The world needs leaders with the courage to understand that it’s not profits ahead of purpose, it’s purpose that leads to profits. We need leaders willing to speak up and stand up for what truly matters. The world depends on values-based decision-making – today more than ever before.
What Can Be Done?
Here is a small list of things we could and should start doing today to help make the world a greener place:
- Governments: Start investing in wildfire prediction, prevention, and management processes. Design fire-safe communities and effective evacuation plans to prepare for when chaos hits. Start taking climate change seriously. Be the role model for businesses and other organizations by taking care of the planet. You cannot serve the people if you aren’t taking care of the planet first.
- Businesses: Look after the ecosystems in which you operate. Strive to become carbon-natural, minimize your carbon footprint, rely on sustainable suppliers, donate to green causes, and implement sustainable business practices. Learn from companies like Chobani!
- Consumers: Think twice before making each purchase. Ask yourself, is the product/service I’m investing in sustainable? Is the company’s business practices sustainable? Are they driven by purpose or profits? Choose wisely. Patagonia is leading the way! Where you spend money, shows what you support.
Never before has our world been so interconnected and never before have we been so dependent on each other. What we do and how we do it matters.
We all need to take care of each other. The future of mankind depends on each one of us taking action today.