Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

A scenic view of West Papua. Reza Fakhrudin / Pexels

By Arkilaus Kladit

My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.

Read More Show Less
Everyone overthinks their lives or options every once in a while. Some people, however, can't stop the wheels and halt their train of thoughts. Peter Griffith / Getty Images

By Farah Aqel

Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.

Read More Show Less
A newly developed catalyst would transform carbon dioxide from power plants and other sources into ethanol. DWalker44 / E+ / Getty Images

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a cheap, efficient way to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuel, potentially reducing the amount of new carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere.

Read More Show Less
Eureka Sound on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic taken by NASA's Operation IceBridge in 2014. NASA / Michael Studinger / Flickr / CC by 2.0

A 4,000-year-old ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed into the sea, leaving Canada without any fully intact ice shelves, Reuters reported. The Milne Ice Shelf lost more than 40 percent of its area in just two days at the end of July, said researchers who monitored its collapse.

Read More Show Less
Teachers and activists attend a protest hosted by Chicago Teachers Union in Chicago, Illinois on Aug. 3, 2020 to demand classroom safety measures as schools debate reopening. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus cases surging around the U.S. are often carried by kids, raising fears that the reopening of schools will be delayed and calling into question the wisdom of school districts that have reopened already.

Read More Show Less
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holds up COVID-19 alert levels during a press conference at Parliament on March 21, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

By Michael Baker, Amanda Kvalsvig and Nick Wilson

On Sunday, New Zealand marked 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Medics with Austin-Travis County EMS transport a nursing home resident with coronavirus symptoms on Aug. 3, 2020 in Austin, Texas. John Moore / Getty Images

The U.S. passed five million coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, just 17 days after it hit the four-million case mark.

Read More Show Less