The world’s forests are critical for us to withstand climate change. Last year, a football field was lost – every four seconds.
The climate crisis has hit Europe hard this summer. According to EU Commission researchers, the drought could be the worst in 500 years, and the UK measured the highest temperatures in July.
The fact that large parts of the continent are extremely dry today increases the risk of large forest fires – and risks making them more intense once they occur.
Hundreds of fires have plagued France, Spain and Portugal in recent weeks. So far this year, 700,000 hectares or 1.4 million football fields of forest have burned down according to the EU’s statistics – the highest figure since the measurements began.
But development is happening again almost everywhere on earth.
Last year, more than a football field of forest burned down every four seconds on Earth, according to Global Forest Watch . Climate change is considered the most important explanation for the gloomy record figure.
Of the more than 9 million hectares consumed by the flames, more than half were in Russia – a country hit particularly hard by wildfires in 2021, according to the new data.
The increasing number of fires is raising the concern of scientists.
The world’s forests bind enormous amounts of carbon and are considered critical for us to withstand the worst consequences of climate change.
The fires not only shrink the areas of the forests. The health-hazardous smoke that rises into the atmosphere also contains carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases, further driving the warming.
In France and Spain, record levels of carbon dioxide have been released by fires this summer, according to data from the Copernicus programme.
Severe forest fires also occur in several other parts of the world. The Copernicus program reports that a huge plume of smoke from the Amazon forest fires is moving west, towards Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The fires in the Amazon are expected to reach their annual peak in the coming weeks.