WE should be thankful that our UK climate is so moderate, often damp and very rarely too hot or too cold. It means we avoid a deadly danger that has increased in severity and size over the last thirty years elsewhere in the world. We rarely burn.
Our so called ‘wildfires’ are the occasional man made heather burning getting out of hand, and a few acres of woodland destroyed in a hot spell, but they are insignificant compared to elsewhere where the wildfires are just that – out of control threats to very large areas of land, property, and often to life itself.
The increasing list is quite remarkable, and reflects the warmer temperatures over the last thirty years, and a three month longer burning season with less snow, earlier melting, and drier conditions.
Since 2015 fires destroyed 20,000 sq km of woodland in Alaska, another 2,000 in California and a whole town of 80,000 people had to be moved in Alberta. In Australia the number of bush fires is up by 40 per cent in the last ten years, and recently Tasmania had over 1,000 sq km destroyed.
Last year India had 21,000 wildfires in the Himalayas, southern Africa didn’t escape and just a year ago forest fires in parts of southern France, Spain and Portugal ruined many holidays.
Not only does the burning vegetation and soil release its CO2 into the atmosphere, but the attempts to control the destruction, with all the fire fighting vehicles, pumping equipment, helicopters and water dropping planes add to the carbon emissions and help make matters worse for the future, and raise the cost of fire fighting to billions.
It’s not just the vegetation and animals that are destroyed as human deaths are increasing and in Victoria, in 2009, around two hundred Australians were killed by rampant bush fires.