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The world burns, as Bolivia and Ukraine forest fires spread

The Bobcat fire burning in the Angeles National Forest in California earlier this month. photo:Getty


The world burns, as Bolivia and Ukraine forest fires spread


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | OCTOBER 1st 2020


Bolivia and Eastern Ukraine are among the latest countries to be experiencing severe fires, coming in series, which have led to the rallying of firefighting crews, and several more accounted death tolls.

Officials stated on Wednesday that firefighters, military personnel, as well as common citizens had all been forced to rally in order to fight off a series of flames that threaten their homes, and have already scorched through around 2.5 million acres of woodland and farms in Bolivia. The government also added that in the areas of Santa Cruz and Beni, there are at least 26 fires presently burning.

The country’s Defence Minister Fernando López stated that “The firefighters of the armed forces continue; the volunteer firefighters continue and today three helicopters will be incorporated to support the areas where the heat sources are most intense.”

The Bolivian government further added that in their estimates, it was around 2.7 million acres of land that had been burned by the series of flames. However, an environmental group known as the Friends of Nature Foundation had a much more grim outlook on the situation, estimating that in fact, the amount of Bolivian land scorched by fires this year may be closer to 5.7 million acres.

Luckily, the fires in Bolivia this year haven’t been anywhere near as bad as the ones suffered by the country in the year prior. The fire season has yet to end, though some fear the fires may prevail even after it does. Even so, arguably worse circumstances have been seen in Eastern Ukraine, where it’s been reported that four people were killed by the sweep of fires spreading through the Luhansk region, and ten have been hospitalised.

Ukrainian emergency services confirmed the hospitalisations on Thursday, further adding in a statement that 120 people had to be evacuated after the fires threatened at least 22 different settlements in the Slavic country.

Authorities had also stated that there were reportedly 146 fires burning in the country, 82 of which were successfully extinguished. There’s been struggle in keeping the others under control, however. Most of these fires were located in the country’s East, in the regions annexed and put under the control of Russia in recent years. Local authorities believe the fires were sparked by shelling, on behalf of the region’s Pro-Russian separatists.

“The reasons for such a large-scale spread of fire must be clearly established,” said the Ukrainian presidential office, who have called for authorities to discover the source as soon as possible. “We also take into account the information about provocative shelling that could have been carried out from the temporarily occupied territory... and could have caused at least some of these fires in such weather conditions.”

This is only the most recent of the fires to have occurred in Ukraine, as earlier this year, another series of flames had led to the death of one, and the hospitalisation of nine other people in the Luhansk region. Clashes between Ukraine and Russia were halted after agreement to a ceasefire in 2015, but since then, there have been frequent violations of this ceasefire occurring in small incidents on the borders.

Since its beginning in 2014, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has cause the deaths of nearly 13,000 people. Whether the four that were killed by the fires will be added to this particular toll has yet to be decided. What is decided, is that they add to the toll of worldwide fires that have scorched the world throughout the year of 2020 and before.

The California fires, still burning, are some of the worst that the state has ever seen on record, having recently decimated their wine country, and left many without a home. Similarly, the bushfires in Australia were equally if not much, much more devastating, having brought about the deaths of nearly 3 billion animals. An event for which the country’s unique Koala species may soon be placed on an endangerment list.

Extreme carbon emissions were detected from the Siberian fires, having become widespread from 2019 to 2020. The more such fires spread, the more carbon -a greenhouse gas- they release into the atmosphere, ultimately worsening the very issue that’s helped the fires to spread the way that they have in the first place: climate change, and its perpetuation of global warming.

Climate change may not be the cause for the sparking of the fires on most occasions. It is, however, the culprit behind the conditions that allow it to spread and destroy with greater ease. The rising temperatures lead to drought, as well as drier conditions, which have been felt all around the world as of recent. This was seen in the Arctic, in Siberia, where a record temperature of 38 Celsius was recorded for the typically cold region, on June 17.

Another record temperature had been noted in Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad, where the heat rose to a terrible 51.8 Celsius, shattering the previous record set back in 2015. The many broken records of 2020 have been of this rather unfortunate sort, pointing towards a changing climate.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny the impacts of a burning world. If the fires and the suffering they’ve caused are to be taken as a sign of anything, it’s that things are undeniably changing – and the clues are no longer subtle. The more we start to understand the problem, the more we can do for it, though many fear that we’ve already struck the point of no return. Whether or not the fires worsen yet again next year remains to be seen, but it all depends on humanity’s response to the series of flames – both from those that head the world, and those who live in it.


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2020