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July 2019 will go down in history as one of the hottest months recorded globally. But not only. The entire summer of 2019 will be remembered for the disastrous consequences that high temperature have caused in the coldest areas of the planet, devastated as never before by fires.
4.3 million hectares of forest burned till now. A figure that leaves you breathless and continues to increase, hour after hour. This is what is happening in Siberia, whose territory has been burning continuously for days. A hell of flames and smoke, which seems to have no end. The most affected regions are those of Krasnoyarsk is Irkutsk, to which is added the Yakutia, in the far Northeast.
The affected area is equivalent to that of Lombardy and Piedmont combined. The fires also led to the emission of more than 166 million tons of carbon dioxide, roughly corresponding to what is produced in a year by 36 million cars. It is an environmental disaster. One of the worst in recent decades.
The impact of fires
Among the most serious side effects of the fires that are destroying Siberia is the production of black carbon, black particles that risk settling on the Arctic ice reducing thealbedo, or rather its reflective power. A picture that would result in greater heat absorption and a consequent increase in global warming. As reported by Martina Borghi, of the Greenpeace Italy Forest Campaign: "These fires should have been extinguished immediately and were ignored instead. Now the situation is catastrophic and the consequences they will have on the climate are not only a threat to Russia, but to the entire planet”.
What is happening underground is also frightening environmentalists and climate scientists. Many of the fires that in this hot summer are affecting Siberia but also theAlaska, are occurring on peat soils. Peat fires produce much more carbon dioxide and methane as they cause the burning of large amounts of coal that has been trapped underground for hundreds or even thousands of years. Essential carbon absorbers also disappear with flames and cannot be replaced quickly.
Climate experts speculate that global warming could cause Arctic permafrost to thaw, thereby releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases stored within it. Should fires in the northern regions become more and more frequent, the already delicate situation would be even more serious. There would be a risk of creating a vicious circle. The combustion of peat soils would cause greater emissions, contributing to an increase in temperatures, which in turn would lead to an acceleration of the melting glaciers. This increase would result in further emissions. A real domino effect, with frightening results.
Siberia: animals on the run
The indisputable victim of the Siberian fires is also the local biodiversity, especially in terms of fauna. The affected areas are in fact populated by a great variety of animal species. The largest specimens, panicked and exhausted, earn an escape route, approaching inhabited centers in search of food and shelter. The little ones, unable to cover large distances, seek refuge in the cavities of the ground but do not always manage to avoid the smoke, inevitably finding death in a trap of heat and flames.
Heartbreaking images that cannot go unnoticed. Unless you have a heart.