There have been too many reports of Wildfires in the Mediterranean over the past weeks. In France alone, more than 37,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Girondes, and in Greece, the fires have come dangerously close to Athens.
2022 has been a record year of burnt surface area in Europe, almost doubling in size since 2021.
The causes of Wildfires
90% of all wildfires are caused by us humans, and mostly through careless acts like leaving cigarette buds, leaving campfires unattended or barbecuing in places where we are specifically told not to.
What also happens very often, is that humans burn trash to reduce the amount, but then it is left smoking unattended. In few instances this leads to massive fire outbreaks. 30% of humans causing wildfires is Arson, which is the act of maliciously burning something to cause a fire.
In 10% of cases, the cause is a natural disaster, like lightning or volcanic eruptions.
The effects of wildfires on the environment
For starters, wildfires destroy habitats of flora and fauna, causing a loss in biodiversity and ecosystems, and killing many small ground animals and birds. Wildfires also have a big impact on forests, and many trees and vegetation are wiped off the face of the earth. Let’s not forget the amount of air pollution which a wildfire causes. Besides the smoke of the fire, the wildfires also destroy the plants responsible for cleaning the air.
What can you do
There are many things you can do to both decrease your chances of causing a wildfire, as well as supporting local authorities and communities when they are suffering from this disaster.
Watch your step: Check your behavior
-If you are a smoker, always dispose of your cigarettes in designated areas like ashtrays or special bins. Never leave your cigarette unattended or throw it out on the ground and stomp it. It can keep smoking. Also smoke near ashtrays, since the falling ashes can still cause fires if they aren’t completely extinguished.
-Never BBQ in areas where you are not sure if this is safe or allowed. If you are doubting, ask the local campsite or be sure and just don’t do it.
-Never sleep with a campfire on or go to sleep without making sure the fire is completely out. This can lead to great personal harm, as well as cause a wildfire. If possible, avoid campfires completely, as inhaling all the smoke is already very harmful for your health.
-Spread the word; If you see other people blatantly disregarding rules of regulators during these periods of draughts, tell them about the possible consequences of their actions. If they disregard your advice, keep an eye out for the cigarette which they throw or call the local authorities if you feel like they may be a danger to others or the environment
Support the locals
Wildfires are expensive to deal with and can lead to great long-term economic losses for the locals as well as for the authorities.
Here are a few NGOs and local organizations which you can support through donations or help:
WWF: Wildlife rescue & support the local firefighters combatting the wildfires in Greece & Turkey
Red Cross: The Red Cross’s disaster relief workers mostly work with first aid activities, food, water, hygiene kits, clothing, vehicles and psychosocial support.
Climate Emergency Fund: Donate to an organization that tackles larger climate change issues on a global scale.
Global Recovery Fund: This fund targets both those affected by the wildfires in Turkey as well as broader global humanitarian crises.
Cruz Roja: The Spanish arm of the Red cross offering relief to Spanish affected by wildfires.