Some say the world will end in fire/ Some say in ice,” Robert Frost penned in December 1920. Ironically, a century later we already see the answer to the literal and figurative versions of the poem on the horizon but we are doing everything we can to ignore it.
In recent weeks, we have heard about fires burning the northern arctic region as well as in the Amazon forest. You can believe this to be a hoax or fake news, but the truth lies in the ruined ecosystems due to the carelessness of humans.
Throughout the summer, areas like Alaska, Brazil, Greenland and Siberia have had devastating fires destroy their forests. In Siberia, nearly 21,000 square miles have been victim to wildfires, and this number is putting Russia on track to have its worst year on record for wildfire damage.
In Greenland, officials with he National Snow & Ice Data Center have said they feel sure that if the fires in western Greenland (which have been burning since early July), are not immediately terminated, then the fires will burn through the winter.
Because of global warming, Greenland’s glaciers are already in terrible danger. But with the extra carbon in the air due to wildfires, glaciers are melting faster than initially expected. By “faster,” I mean 80 billion tons of Greenland ice sheet melted within 10 days. Scientists based in Holland expect the ice Holland stands on, which is thousands of years old, to be gone within the next couple of years due to fires, carbon and water temperatures.
The increased global temperatures are being credited as a main cause for the majority of these wildfires. Although fires are normal in forested areas, the amount of fires and the length of time they have burned are unnatural for most of those areas. Many of the wildfires are stuck in a cruel cycle: extreme heat that causes fire, and fire that becomes harder to put out. It’s hard to say when this cycle will become hindered.
In Alaska, fire season began a month early due to a heat wave that rolled in during early May. With fires taking place, Alaska just recorded its hottest month in history. Alaskan fires have displaced thousands of residents and forced them to take shelter in their local elementary schools.
The Amazon rainforest provides the world with 20 percent of the its oxygen. This was the only set of wildfires that were man-made. Although part of theoretically “healthy” deforestation, scientists at the National Institute for Space Research have said the burning of the Amazon will have worldwide consequences.
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is infamously a backer for Brazilian farmers who felt they should not need to ask government permission before deforesting the Amazon using slash-and-burn techniques to create more farming land. In turn, 1,000 miles away from the fire, Sao Paulo’s skies turned black with smoke as President Bolsonaro sat idly by.
Before recent climate change-driven droughts in the Amazon, the forest was practically fire resistant. So, although these recent Brazilian fires are man-made, they also are due to climate change in a roundabout way.
How will all these fires, melting glaciers and the damage to the Amazon affect us? Well, unless something changes on the homefront, life is bound to become harder to maintain.
Even if you don’t physically see the effects of climate change, they’re everywhere. People are losing houses and land, and natives are losing centuries-old glaciers and cultural pillars. More importantly, our food systems are endangered. Glaciers are not only representative of rising sea levels and destructive weather, but the Himalayan glaciers, for instance, provide runoff for half of Asia’s agricultural production, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
As members of the community mock left-wing presidential candidates for pushing climate change education and awareness, the Amazon is burning, the arctic is burning, glaciers are melting faster than expected, and drought is suffocating the world at a fearfully invisible rate.
Mother Nature is knocking on our door. Please, do not ignore the call.