Russia’s wildfires have spread across its northeast region and the toxic smoke is so thick that it has blotted out the sun, and thrown swaths of the region into darkness, reports said.
This year, the fires have been particularly disastrous for Sakha and its capital Yakutsk, where a state of emergency has been declared. The winter temperatures in the region have a reputation of being the coldest on the planet.
Citizens have been asked to stay indoors as volunteers and firefighters try to control the fires.
According to government data, the forest fires have destroyed around 10 million acres of land in the Yakutia region this summer with 175 fires still blazing.
Around 2400 firefighters, supported by troops and military aircraft, have been deployed to battle the fire. Many citizens in Yakutia have filed online petitions requesting the federal government for more help in extinguishing the fires.
Volunteers like businessman Ayil Dyulurkha have pitched in to help control the fire, particularly in towns where it can destroy homes and businesses.
Dyulurkha rallied many other volunteers through Facebook and Instagram and soon he was able to gather around dozens of people for help. In their 10-12 hour shift, volunteers are equipped with respirators. They shovel dirt from trenches made by tractors, remove the fallen trees that are blocking exit routes, and use water tanks to extinguish fires.
As per scientists, the amount of CO2 released from the Russian blaze can beat last year’s world record. Similar kinds of scenes are playing across several parts of the world as emergency teams battle fires in parts of Turkey, Southern Europe, and the United States. In California and Hawaii fires have spread to over 40,00 acres of land. Scientists say extreme heat and drought in some regions have contributed to the fires.
The economic damage from this year's fires won’t be known immediately. Last year, it was around $160 million. But the ecological cost has been far higher.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, forest officials have said that almost half of the wildfires were caused by human negligence and thunderstorms. Residents say that they are choking on ash. Other major causes of fires possibly include climate change and negligence by citizens in maintaining forests.
What does it mean for us?
Environmentalists fear that the wildfires fuelled by the hot weather may thaw Siberian permafrost and peatlands, which means release of even more carbon that was stored for long in the frozen tundra, Reuters reported. European Union’s Copernicus satellite monitoring unit has also said that the forest fires have already produced a lot of carbon emission in Yakutia with still more weeks of fire seasons to come.
India must also understand that climate changes are becoming really catastrophic. Droughts, wildfires, floods, and extreme heat are making the planet inhabitable. Carbon emissions are again on the rise and these issues are triggering an alarming situation for India as it needs to be alert and careful when it comes to preventing wildfires.
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)