Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Russia Declares Emergency Over Huge Wildfires in Siberia

Climate

An area of 3.2 million hectares (7.9 million acres) was engulfed by forest fires in remote regions of Russia on Monday. In comparison, the total surface of the nation of Belgium is 3.07 million hectares.

With fires raging for days, immense clouds of smoke reached large population centers, including Russia's third biggest city, Novosibirsk. Authorities declared emergencies in several regions.


"The smoke is horrible," pensioner Raisa Brovkina told state television after being hospitalized in Novosibirsk.

"I am choking and dizzy," she added.

No Money to Put out Fires

Siberia regularly faces immense wildfires, but the impact this year had been boosted by strong wind and unusually dry weather. The blazes have been allowed to spread as cash-strapped local authorities usually ignore fires in remote regions.

Talking to Siberian Times, an emergency pilot in Krasnoyarski Krai said he had spent days waiting to fly his firefighting plane, but received no order to do so.

"Every day the whole team and I are on duty. There are four aircraft," he said in an article published on Monday.

"Since the beginning of the fires, not a single specialized [plane] has been lifted into the air."

"They say it is expensive to extinguish and if part of the forest burns down — it is not scary," the unnamed pilot said.

Greenpeace Steps in

Separately, the region's officials said that cost of the firefighting effort is sometimes "ten times larger than the possible damage" caused by the fire.

But the pilot slammed the calculation as "absurd."

"Of course, now, probably it will be expensive to extinguish everything that burns," he said.

"But why was there no order to fly out earlier, when the fire had just begun to spread?"

The Russian charter of Greenpeace had launched a petition to force the government to move against wildfires in Siberia, which was signed by some 245,000 by Tuesday evening.

Burning in the Sun

The wildfires "have long stopped being a local problem" and have "transformed into an ecological disaster with consequences for the entire country," Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace expert Grigory Kuksin said the soot and ashes accelerate the melting of the Arctic ice and permafrost, which in turns releases even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

"It is comparable to the emissions of major cities," he told the AFP news agency. "The more fires affect the climate, the more conditions are created for new dangerous fires."

The group said almost 12 million hectares have already burned this year, destroying forests that absorb carbon dioxide.

Siberia was almost 10 degrees Celsius (18 Fahrenheit) warmer than the long-term average in June, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Fino Menezes

Everyone adores dolphins. Intelligent, inquisitive and playful, these special creatures have captivated humans since the dawn of time. But dolphins didn't get to where they are by accident — they needed to develop some pretty amazing superpowers to cope with their environment.

Read More Show Less
Protesters face off against security during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

In just two weeks, three states have passed laws criminalizing protests against fossil fuel infrastructure.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listen to White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx speak in the Rose Garden for the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has bowed to the advice of public health experts and extended social distancing measures designed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus till at least April 30.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Charli Shield

At unsettling times like the coronavirus outbreak, it might feel like things are very much out of your control. Most routines have been thrown into disarray and the future, as far as the experts tell us, is far from certain.

Read More Show Less
Pie Ranch in San Mateo, California, is a highly diverse farm that has both organic and food justice certification. Katie Greaney

By Elizabeth Henderson

Farmworkers, farmers and their organizations around the country have been singing the same tune for years on the urgent need for immigration reform. That harmony turns to discord as soon as you get down to details on how to get it done, what to include and what compromises you are willing to make. Case in point: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165. The Senate received the bill the next day and referred it to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains. Two hundred and fifty agriculture and labor groups signed on to the United Farm Workers' (UFW) call for support for H.R. 5038. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez rejoiced:

Read More Show Less