As temperatures rise due to a variety of natural and anthropogenic causes, various consequences promote forest fires and further degradation of the earth’s habitability and living conditions. Climate change is the long-term shifts in the earth’s temperature and weather pattern. The temperature has been rising since the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s. Natural causes of rising temperatures include forest fires, shifts in the earth’s position, temperature variations, volcanoes, and so on. The wildlife and forest areas are dying as a result of the rising temperatures. Increased temperatures cause trees to die and dry due to a scarcity of water, which contributes to forest fires. Drought seasons may last longer as temperatures rise, affecting wildlife and humans in a variety of ways.
Human actions, such as careless campfires, are the primary cause of forest fires. Rising temperatures, lightning strikes, etc. are examples of natural causes. Forest fires release a variety of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon and methane, which contribute to the greenhouse effect and, as a result, global warming. Forest fires cause an increase in air pollution due to the smoke and numerous toxins produced. If inhaled, this toxic air can cause death. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Forests play an important role in maintaining the fresh air levels in the environment. They are essential for both animals and humans. According to the World Wildlife Organization, “Trees purify the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, prevent erosion, and act as an important buffer against climate change.” Forests have many advantages, among them are the following:
As the temperature is rising, the earth’s surface and air are also warming up. This is worsening various natural disasters such as floods, storms, droughts, etc. Various natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, and droughts, are becoming more severe as a result of this. Even a small increase in temperature is enough to create a shift in our planet’s climate. A warmer climate, according to the NRDC, creates an atmosphere that can gather, retain, and release more water, altering weather patterns so that wet areas become wetter and dry areas become drier.
These are a few of the effects of rising temperature:
2. Increase in the number of deaths: Climate change and rising temperatures endanger everyone, especially children, the elderly, and the most vulnerable members of society. When the temperature rises, it causes lots of new diseases and deaths. Lower-income groups, who cannot afford air coolers and air conditioners, are more likely to die as a result of excessively hot days when the temperature does not drop even during the night.
The moisture in the soil dries out as the temperature rises, resulting in combustible trees and vegetation. This causes droughts, rendering the area unfit for irrigation and future usage. Construction of industries, for example, becomes impossible when the soil grows more gritty.
Trees become drier and more prone to catch fire as the temperature rises. Glaciers and ice sheets melt at the same time, leaving forests dryer for longer. Forest fires will become more common in the coming years as the temperature and global warming continue to rise. A temperature rise will affect both the vegetation and the wildlife in a forest. Heat and water scarcity will kill animals, and wildfires will kill even more.
Forest fires are caused by human activities such as careless campfires, which account for 95% of all forest fires. Forest fires will become more common in the future decades, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as a result of climate change and human activity. “Extreme weather events, such as higher temperatures and more droughts, extend fire seasons and raise the risk of fire weather conditions,” according to the UNEP’s Frontiers report. The following are some of the reasons behind the increase in forest fires.
The Global Fire Monitoring Center’s (GFMC) Global Wildland Fire Network Bulletin contains the most recent statistics on wildfire consequences: in 2017, 36 fires in protected areas were reported in 19 countries, burning more than 196000 hectares worldwide.
Forest fires can be classified into three categories depending on where they started:
Human activities are the primary cause of forest fires. Forest fires are aggravated by a variety of factors, including:
Gradual cutting of trees and forest areas for several purposes like habitation, agriculture, cattle grazing, wood, and timber, among many others is known as deforestation. It happens when new trees are not replaced by the old ones. Deforestation is anthropogenic and can cause forest fires to spread out of control. Forest degraded by deforestation is more likely to catch fire than a dense forest cover. This is because the lush forest cover will act as a wind barrier, preventing the fire from spreading. As the forest cover becomes denser, fewer winds may penetrate, preventing forest fires.
Natural surfaces that reflect more heat than concrete floors have been reduced as a result of deforestation and urbanization. Concrete reflects less heat, resulting in a warmer environment. Trees provide a cool environment and clean air but due to deforestation, the temperature is rising as well.
Wildfires are unquestionably harmful to the forest, wildlife, and humans. Uncontrolled fires exacerbate forest deterioration. They have a wide range of detrimental environmental and human health consequences. These are some of them:
Some examples of forest fires around the world:
Environment: Wildfires destroy homes, wildlife, habitat, and timber. Forest fires emit huge amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and others. Air pollution and the greenhouse impact are both exacerbated by these pollutants.
Flora and Fauna: Plants and animals that live in the forests come under the flora and fauna category. Forest fires change the necessities of life that are required to keep them alive. Food, water, and shelter are the three necessities. They cannot survive without these basic necessities.
Humans: Forest fires destroy many natural resources that humans rely on, such as timber, food, etc. Many residential areas near forests are susceptible to fire, rendering them uninhabitable and resulting in property loss. Harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, and others can cause respiratory disorders (lung cancer, asthma, chest pain, COPD), heart issues, skin burns, and even deaths.
Rising Temperatures: Temperatures have been steadily rising for decades. Rising temperatures have an impact on many disasters. Heat waves, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters are examples. Climate change and human health are interrelated. As the climate heats, more water is released into the environment, causing weather patterns to shift, enabling hot areas to become hotter and wet areas to become even wetter. Rising sea levels will also result in increased coastal flooding, salinization of water sources, and other effects on humans and the ecosystem.
Forest Fires: A forest fire does more harm than good. Forest fires have several negative consequences, including soil degradation, the loss of life in forests, damage to flora, fauna, and tundra, air pollution, and so on. It also ruins property near the forestation; smoke and harmful fumes have an impact not only on persons but also on the ecosystem. Humans are prone to a variety of respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and exposure to these gasses can result in death. Carbon is a prominent by-product of gaseous emissions, and as carbon is one of the key components causing the greenhouse effect, it contributes to it. Air quality monitoring becomes very important in such areas where there is a forest fire and areas surrounding it.
Following are some tips for preventing forest fires, according to the US Department of the Interior:
According to NOAA’s 2020 Annual Climate Report, the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit ( 0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880. The average rate has increased twice since 1981. As a result of climate change and the greenhouse effect, woods become drier and more prone to fires. The melting of ice peaks as a result of rising temperatures has resulted in natural disasters such as floods. The water bodies that serve to avoid forest fires are drying up within the forest region.
Forest fires have an impact on not only species but also the environment and mankind. These contribute to air pollution and cause a variety of ailments in humans, including respiratory and cardiovascular problems, among other things. Wildfires result in property loss, flora and fauna destruction, and toxic gas and smoke emissions. These gasses contribute to the greenhouse effect, which traps heat within the earth’s surface and increases the temperature of the atmosphere. Forest fires have a few advantages in addition to their drawbacks. Soil fertility is improved by fires, which release useful nutrients into the soil.
Forest fires should be avoided by taking preventative steps. Because human activities are responsible for more than 90% of forest fires, precautions must be taken to prevent them. These include avoiding campfires or completely extinguishing them before leaving.
To know the status of active fires in your area, visit https://www.aqi.in/
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