We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo
Global Warming

Wildfires getting worse worldwide and governments are unprepared – UN report

The report said nations spend too much time and money fighting fires rather than preventing them.

A WARMING PLANET and changes to land use patterns mean more wildfires will scorch large parts of the globe in coming decades, according to a UN report.

This will mean spikes in smoke pollution and other related problems that governments are ill prepared to confront, experts said.

The report from the UN Environment Programme said the western US, northern Siberia, central India, and eastern Australia already are seeing more blazes, and the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires globally could increase more than 50% by the turn of the century.

Areas once considered safe from major fires will not be immune, including the Arctic, which the report said was “very likely to experience a significant increase in burning”.

Tropical forests in Indonesia and the southern Amazon of South America also are likely to see increased wildfires, the report concluded.

“Uncontrollable and devastating wildfires are becoming an expected part of the seasonal calendars in many parts of the world,” said Andrew Sullivan, with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia, one of the report’s authors.

But UN researchers said many nations continue to spend too much time and money fighting fires and not enough trying to prevent them.

Land use changes can make the fires worse, such as logging that leaves behind debris that can easily burn and forests that are intentionally ignited to clear land for farming, the report said.

In the United States, officials recently unveiled a $50 billion effort to reduce fire risks over the next decade by more aggressively thinning forests around “hot spots” where nature and neighbourhoods collide.

However, the administration of US President Joe Biden has so far identified only a fraction of the funding called for in the plan.

The UN researchers also called for more awareness of the dangers from smoke inhalation, which can affect tens of millions of people annually as plumes from major wildfires drift thousands of miles across international borders.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel