The Impacts of Wildfires on our Environment
Wildfire is a part of nature and plays an important role in shaping our ecosystems. However, as a result of global warming, wild fires are becoming more and more frequent, destroying homes, wildlife habitat and timber. Find out more about the impacts of wildfires on our environment!
Wildfires Affect Climate
Among other things, wildfires affect the climate as they release large amounts of carbon dioxide, black carbon, brown carbon and ozone precursors into the atmosphere.
These emissions can accelerate global warming, cause severe air pollution and affect our climate on global scales.
Wildfires Affect Air Quality
Wildfires emit large amounts of volatile and semi-volatile organic materials and nitrogen oxides that form ozone and organic particulate matter. Emissions of toxic pollutants caused by wildfires near populated areas can affect the health of local residents.
Furthermore, the formation of additional pollutants as the air travels can lead to harmful exposures even for populations in regions far away from the wildfires.
Wildfires Affect Water
Particulates and black carbon released from forest fires are carried in the air and enter water courses. The large amounts of carbon dioxide released from wildfires cause air pollution, which contributes to acidification of lakes, eutrophication of estuaries and coastal waters and mercury bioaccumulation of aquatic food webs.
Wildfires Affect Land
Current wildfires, aggravated by global warming and drought, are becoming more and more frequent, destroying houses, infrastructure, wildlife and soil as well. As a result, agriculture might relapse, which can lead to economic decline and recession, at least in the short term.
Wildfires Affect Infrastructure
As wildfires are becoming more intense, they often reach populated areas. When they spread to urban areas and cities, wildfires damage the infrastructure, such as power lines, mobile phone masts, heating and water supply. They can also destroy homes, transportation, public institutions and cultural heritage. Rebuilding is costly and time consuming.
Wildfires Affect Well-Being
Smoke from forest fires causes air pollution, which is bad for people’s health, no matter where they live. In developing countries, not everyone has equal access to escape and protection from air pollutions, and not everyone can afford good quality pollution masks and air purifiers.
Wildfires also cause fear, stress and anguish, forcing people to leave their homes. The affects are even worse for those who suffer direct impacts.