We’ve all seen the pictures: a glowing orange and red blanket of smoke stretching for miles across the west of the United States. According to a report by CNN, this year’s wildfires have burnt through nearly 650,000 acres, spanning across 15 states in the US, including California, Oregon and Arizona.
Wildfires are caused by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and dry air. They release copious amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, in particular carbon dioxide. This year alone, US wildfires have produced a total of 200 million tons of carbon dioxide – the highest since records began in 2003 and 28% more than in 2019. Fires also contribute to particle pollution which has long-term negative impacts on human and environmental health.
But it’s not just in America that fires are blazing. The Arctic, Siberia, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia and Argentina have also been suffering from the impacts of some of the worst wildfires in history. These are not just the natural ways of the world, but a direct consequence of man-made climate change.