From savannah to tundra, no ecosystem is immune to fire. Analysis of the data collected between 2000 and 2015 shows that 85% of the surface area burned each year belongs to the tropical savannah, which also represents only 19% of the land that emerged. Forest fires have much smaller geographical dimensions ("just" 10% of the total) but much more serious consequences for the climate, because they account for a quarter of the CO2 released into the atmosphere. Taken as a whole, the amount of CO2 due to fires is equivalent to that emitted in a year by the entire European Union.
Climate-altering gases are part of a long list of fire damage. In itself the victims are between one hundred and four hundred per year, i.e. 0.2% of those due to natural phenomena. If this percentage is relatively limited, it is also true that 340 thousand premature deaths every year are due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases contracted by breathing smoke.
The impact on communities, moreover, is immediate and shocking. In 2017 alone, about 550 thousand people were forced to leave their homes because of the flames. The 2015 fire season in Indonesia led to the closure of schools, leaving about 5 million students at home.
Flora and fauna have even less chance to defend themselves. Australia's catastrophic fire season of 2019-2020 brought 26 native animal species dangerously close to extinction, destroying more than 30% of their habitat. Scholars speak of seven billion plants destroyed or ruined. The threat to biodiversity is tangible.
Finally, economic losses must be taken into account. In 2019 alone, Australian tourism had to say goodbye to 2.9 billion dollars in revenues. A very serious problem also in Indonesia, where thousands of reservations are cancelled every year. The public coffers are also suffering, because they inevitably bear the expenses necessary to prevent and tame the flames. For the fires of 2015 in Indonesia, this outlay is estimated at 16 billion dollars, or 1.9% of the national GDP. In 2018, it reached 50 billion dollars in the USA. (source: lifegate.it)
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