The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Russia Declares Emergency Over Huge Wildfires in Siberia
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.
- The Vicious Climate-Wildfire Cycle - EcoWatch ›
- The Arctic Is Burning: Wildfires Rage from Sweden to Alaska ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Mancini
On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.
By Alex Schwartz
Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.
I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change
By Caroline Hickman
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?
For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.