ZEROES 5: Wildfires and global warming – the other threat to humanity

Arthur Greene

While 2020 will be looked back upon as the year that the world was brought to its knees by the coronavirus, another threat to humanity loomed large.

Natural disasters caused by manmade global warming have been a regular yet overlooked fixture throughout the year.

The Australian bushfires, which raged through June 2019 to May 2020, resulted in over 18 million hectares of scorched earth. A total of 479 people lost their lives, either from burns or smoke inhalation, whilst millions more lives were negatively impacted. 

Experts have estimated that 1,25 billion animals were killed, injured or whose habitat was destroyed in the fires.

Scientists have long argued that rising temperatures, caused by greenhouse gas emissions from energy use and industrial processes, have contributed to more frequent and intense fires.

California has also seen record areas of land scorched by wildfires with four million acres destroyed in 2020, doubling the previous record of nearly two million acres set in 2018.

Fires also devastated thousands of square miles of the Amazon rainforest and even parts of Siberia which recorded record high temperatures.

Coastal flooding has also been on the rise, with experts citing rising seas and heavier downpours as the cause.

In November, floods and typhoons devastated large areas of the Philippines. The flooding has now affected eight regions and three million people, according to the United Nations’ humanitarian office.

These disasters will be more frequent and extreme in 2021. Not only do they represent a direct threat to human life, but they will create crises of mass immigration as large parts of the world will become inhabitable.