On a purely level, the situation in Siberia is much more dangerous than in Europe, say both experts. European fires cause a lot of inconvenience, but the scale of fires in Siberia is “really exceptional,” according to van der Werf. This pattern is expected to continue in the coming decades as the world gets warmer.
More carbon dioxide emissions
The fact that the fires are getting more intense leads to another problem in addition to the immediate nuisance: more carbon dioxide emissions. When trees are burned, stored carbon dioxide is released. Van Der Werf: “Usually, forest fires are CO2 neutral. Once the forest grows again, the trees absorb the CO2 released into the atmosphere again. But if the fires increase, this can no longer be fully achieved.” This contributes to Global warming and therefore climate change. In short, a vicious cycle.
Experts say it is still difficult to say how many emissions will be caused by wildfires around the world this year, but it is a dangerous amount. For example, bushfires in Australia in 2019 and 2020 caused an amount of emissions comparable to the entire global aviation for one year.
Van der Werf: “You can see that Turkey has already set a record in terms of emissions, at least this time of year and maybe also all year long.” According to him, global emissions are also exceptional, but this is mainly due to the fires in North America and Russia.