Stockholm (NordSIP) – This summer was marked by the hottest July on record, with abnormally high temperatures causing fires at high latitudes, as well as by increased fires in Brazil that have stocked international tensions. However, many appear confident to have identified a double standard, pointing to the neglect that Africa has suffered even as more fires have flared up there than in the Amazon. However, it appears that the African fires, because they are controlled are
Controlled African Fires
The African fires affect an area of 3.3 million square kilometres in several countries, including about a third in the DRC, with the rest in Gabon, Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic. However, according to media reports, while the fires in Brazil are out of control, the ones in Africa are largely, small-scale, slash and burn, where farmers set fire to the bush and use the ashes as fertilizer.
The trend is also visible in the data. While there is a clear rise in the number of fire alerts in the Amazonas, according to global forest watch, the region of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, where most fires alerts in the country have been noted, is actually experiencing a decline in fires in comparison to 2018.
The Amazon and the Arctic Circle
The problem with the Amazon fires is not necessarily that they are the worst on record, as some have suggested. Imperfect a measure though it is, according to our most pessimistic estimate (which did not take into account the “Day of Fire” and subsequent devastation) the level of deforestation of Brazil for this year may be the highest in over a decade, but it pales in comparison with the peaks of devastation witnessed in the early 2000s. What is troubling about the Amazon fires is the reaction of Brazil’s president and the enabling political environment in which they seem to be happening.
Much more ominously, the fires in Greenland, Siberia and Alaska are the latest instance in the increasingly unusual effects of the climate change and the spread of its destructive implication to regions heretofore unaffected in this manner.