The large fires that usually occur in summer in California (USA) are known worldwide. Images of large fires, evacuated populations and kilometers burning in this area of the United States usually make the news every summer because of their dimension and consequences. However, they are not the only ones that occur in the world and certainly not the largest.
Although experts have been warning for years about the worrisome fires that occur in the lungs of the Earth, such as the Amazon, the media impact is usually not the same as in other areas. Now, for example, Africa and South America are burning brightly, but seem to have been overshadowed by others.
NASA’s Fire Information System for Resource Management (FIRMS) provides an interactive map of fires in near real time. It shows how Southern Africa and South America (Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay) are currently being ravaged by fires.
Both the magnitude and the extension of the fire is marked by an intense red color that indicates the areas of the world that have suffered or are suffering from fires in the last 24 hours.
More than 5.5 million kilometers of land are currently burning in Africa, and another 8 million – in a less concentrated manner – in the south of the American continent.
NASA indicates that much of this intense burning in the heart of South America in the months of August through October is the result of human-caused fires, “both intentional and accidental. It also points out that, in the case of Africa, when the dry season arrives each year, the indices are shot up by a “strip of widespread agricultural burning”.
Still, the numbers are troubling. The Brazilian Amazon already set a record for fires at the beginning of the dry season, when it registered 6,091 fires (almost 800 more than the previous month), seriously endangering indigenous lands that suffered 77% more fires than last year.
“Changes in the use of controlled fires, specifically for deforestation, add more variability to Amazon fires from year to year,” explained Yang Chen, an earth scientist at the University of California, Irvine, and co-creator of the Amazon fire season forecasting model. “In addition, climate change is likely to make the entire region drier and more flammable, conditions that would make it easier for fires from deforestation or agricultural use to spread to the Amazon rainforest.