Culture 2 min read

Carbon Emissions from Australia Wildfires Raise Concerns

OSORIOartist /

OSORIOartist /

Australia wildfires have been burning for months with little signs of slowing down. Unsurprisingly, it raises a carbon emission concern among climate scientists.

Smokes from fires contain a combination of thousands of compounds, including climate-warming greenhouse gases. According to climate experts, the fire has released hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere already.

For these fires in the southeast south (of Australia), probably we are in the ballpark of 400 million tons of carbon,” a lead scientist with Australia’s national research agency, Dr. Pep Canadell, told NPR.

By comparison, Australia’s total carbon emissions from human-made sources in the previous year were about 540 million tons. In other words, emissions from the wildfire have already surpassed two-thirds of last year’s.

And that’s not even the disturbing part.

How Australia Wildfires Impact Climate Change

Atmospheric scientists generally consider wildfire as being carbon neutral. That’s because when the plants in a burnt region grow again, they pull back the carbon dioxide released during the fire.

However, there has been a recent shift in balance.

Thanks to climate change, wildfires now burn more frequently across the world. Also, the burned areas are more extensive, and the fires burn for a more extended period.

A 2018 “State of the Climate” document reports a “long-term increase in extreme fire weather and the length of the fire season across large parts of Australia since the 1950s.”

Besides, the planet is getting hotter, and rain patterns are changing. Also, human development is still expanding. All these factors have made it challenging for some forests to regrow.

The scenario could result in what scientists call a positive feedback loop. Wildfires would become a more significant source of climate change, and this would lead to worse fires in the future.

A scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Rebecca Buchholz explained:

“Climate impacts the fires, and the fires can potentially impact climate, and we don’t know where we’re going. It’s a moving goal post all the time, and we haven’t reached that new balance point.”

Researchers can’t tell if Australia’s wildfires will become a net source of carbon, or if the burnt forest will regrow. However, the country’s inferno is still worrisome.

Read More: Researchers Develop New Diagnostic Tool to Prevent Wildfires

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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