A burning issue that can’t be doused soon - GulfToday

A burning issue that can’t be doused soon

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Image used for illustrative purpose only.

Climate change is increasingly gaining urgency and not just in one part of the globe. The coronavirus has wrecked normal life like nothing else has ever done before. It has become the new normal even as more and more people are getting increasingly used to a home-bound, restriction-ringed life that is very much dependent on virtual communication. It is the reality one is forced to accept – for the sake of health and, above all, staying alive.

While the coronavirus is doing damage to the whole body, even claiming fatalities in many cases, forest fires – a dire impact of global warming – are devastating whole parts of the landscape, even homes, in several parts of the world, killing people in the process.

Europe, Africa and Latin America – there is virtually no place to hide. Every area has faced Nature’s wrath. That includes Algeria in North Africa and Bolivia in South America.

Wildfires in Montana, California are looming like the sword of Damocles over rural towns, as Western US faced another bout of nasty weather and smoke pollution rent the air.

Firemen were desperately trying to save hundreds of homes as fires rapidly spread across the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.

About 600 people were slated for evacuation in and around the town of Ashland.

At least 71 people have died in Algeria since Monday, according to the latest official toll. Authorities have said many of the fires were of “criminal origin”.

In Tizi Ouzou province, entire villages have been destroyed and terraced orchards reduced to ruins. Italy also has turned into a frying pan as wildfires gutted the country’s south, and Spain was heading for record mercury levels.

The problem is that the most vulnerable in such situations are those living alone and the homeless. They are the ones most likely to suffer under such distressing circumstances which is not of their making.

Scientists are unanimous in their view that climate change from the burning of fossil fuels is driving extreme events such as heat waves, drought and wildfires. The trend is likely to continue as Earth continues to surge towards being a boiling cauldron.

Even the Middle East, particularly Lebanon and Syria, have been lashed by wildfires.

The eastern Mediterranean, where Cyprus is located, is a “global climate change hot spot.”

Wildfires on the Italian island of Sardinia were largely brought under control. However, a conflagration near Tivoli forced 25 families to evacuate. Italian firefighters were also tackling blazes near Mount Etna, the volcano in Sicily.

Greece faced the worst environmental calamity in decades. On the island of Evia, devastating blazes in the wake of an exceptional heat wave this summer have broken out. There was a fresh blaze on Friday.

Turkey is creaking under the weight of floods in the Black Sea region.

The floods triggered chaos in northern provinces just as authorities were declaring wildfires in the southern regions had been stemmed. Around 150,000 hectares of forests and grasslands so far this year in the Bolivian lowlands have been destroyed by fires. Firefighters were battling scattered blazes since last week in eastern Santa Cruz.

Even in a cold country like Russia, there are wildfires. Blazes have been seen in Yakutia, which is Russia’s largest territory and bigger than Argentina.

More than 200 additional firefighters, two amphibious planes and two choppers were deployed to help fight the fires.

Truly, what was considered abnormal before is now the new normal. A cold country like Russia should not be having fires raging on in its area. Can the problem be solved? It is a burning question that cannot be extinguished soon.

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