canary islands

Climate change drives up global forest fires

Climate change: as fires devour forests in Canada and parts of the Mediterranean helped by record temperatures, the islands suffer other scares in Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

Despite the persistent denial from some on the climate change, the undeniable reality this summer confirms that the so-called sixth-generation fires are increasingly plaguing our planet, just as predicted. These fires have the ability to drastically alter the weather conditions of the affected areas and their surroundings, spreading rapidly and aggressively. Flames can now exceed speeds of six kilometers per hour, which is six to twelve times faster than a typical fire. Countries like Canada, Greece, Italy, and Algeria are currently experiencing the devastating impacts of these fires.

Climate change stands as the driving force behind this catastrophic surge, as once again validated by a recent scientific study, specifically the one published by the World Weather Attribution (WWA), a collaboration of renowned experts. The study attributes the ferocity of these fires to anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change.

The statistics are sobering. In Canada alone, this year’s forest fire season has already surpassed the disastrous one of 2021, with nearly nine million hectares ablaze, an area similar to the entire country of Portugal, compared to four million hectares burned the previous year. The smoke from these fires has even reached Europe, causing disruptions in various neighboring regions of the USA.

Turning our attention to the Canary Islands, for now, we have managed to evade the worst, although the recent fire in Puntagorda (La Palma) came dangerously close to becoming a massive disaster, but prompt emergency responses and favorable weather conditions helped avert a catastrophe. However, fires are currently being battled in Tejeda (Gran Canaria) and San Andrés (Tenerife), causing anxiety among residents.

The devastation on the Greek island of Rhodes, a popular tourist destination, serves as a stark reminder of the close interconnection between ecological disasters and economic crises. The virulent flames have been relentless, despite international efforts to contain them, resulting in the destruction of hotels and the evacuation of thousands of tourists.

In addition to Greece, other areas in the Hellenic country, such as Corfu, Egio, Evia, and Yliki, are also grappling with the outbreak of fires amid a series of heatwaves affecting Europe, with historical records being shattered everywhere.

The list of affected regions is extensive. In Algeria, 34 lives have been claimed, and over 1,500 people have been evacuated, while in Italy, the situation has disrupted operations at Palermo airport in Sicily. Tragically, two people lost their lives in a seaplane crash while trying to combat a fire on the Greek island of Evia.

As we observe the global wildfire crisis unfold, the urgent need for greater awareness, preparedness, and collective action against climate change becomes increasingly evident. For now, the Canary Islands remain on alert, hoping to stave off the full brunt of this environmental disaster.

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