Climate change and increasing wildfires across the globe

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A wildfire is any type of uncontrolled fire that spreads across the forests, grasslands or pasturelands. Worldwide, only 4% of the wildfires occur naturally, chiefly due to lightning, the rest are started by humans, either accidentally or by arson. In the US alone, 84% of the wildfires are started by humans. The influence of human land use activity and slash and burn clearing has also been linked to damaging fires in Indonesia. In Africa, most of the fires are started either for clearing pasture land or for agriculture, due to which over 70% of the world’s fires occur in the Africa continent. In other parts of the world, including the US, wildfires occur due to debris burning, sparks thrown from equipment, power lines, smoking, fireworks, campfires, accidental ignitions and arson. Wildfires adversely impact humans, wildlife and the economy. A major driver of greenhouse gas emissions, wildfires is responsible for 5-8% of the 3.33 million annual premature deaths from poor air quality. The 2019-20 Australia wildfires claimed the lives of 33 people, destroyed thousands of homes and killed 3 billion animals. Emissions contribute to global temperature rise. A 2017 study found that on an average, there could be 35% increase in wildfires globally. However if efforts are taken to limit global warming would substantially curb the increase of wildfires.

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