Stating that the color of forested areas turned from green to darker colors due to fires, Assoc. Dr. Instructor Its member, Canan Acar, warned that the regions left behind from the burning trees will heat up more. Drawing attention to the climate crisis, Acar said, "Even if the fires started on purpose or by mistake, their severity, speed and damage increase and it becomes difficult to extinguish them due to climate change."
Forest fires in 35 provinces of Turkey, especially in the popular holiday regions, have turned many forest areas into ash. In addition to the areas that turned from green to black, many citizens and animals were also damaged by the fires. According to scientists' estimates, forest fires have released about 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the last 8 years.
Making important statements on the subject, Bahçeşehir University (BAU) Department of Energy Systems Engineering Assoc. Dr. Instructor Touching on land use and forest management, its member Canan Acar underlined that burned areas should be brought back to life, not for reconstruction, in order to prevent permanent destruction.
“The areas left behind from the fire are getting hotter”
Assoc. Dr. Instructor Member Canan Acar underlined that forest fires emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that warm the planet, and that the burning of forests also spreads pollutants such as soot and aerosols, which have complex effects on warming and cooling, into the atmosphere. Acar said, “In addition, the color of forested areas turning from green to darker colors due to fires increases the amount of heat retained in the region left behind after the fire. This factor, called the albedo effect, is the reason why light-colored regions reflect more energy from the sun than dark-colored regions, that is, they are cooler. Since trees are also cooling, their burning means that the areas left behind are getting warmer. The leading cause of rising average global temperatures is the burning of fossil fuels. This warming extends the fire season and dries up forests. For this reason, forest fires spread faster over larger areas, and these fires accelerate warming. In other words, we see a vicious circle where the consequences of warming lead to more warming," he said.
“longer summers increase fire risk”
Stating that the recent fires have damaged the ecosystem not only in Turkey but also all over the world, Assoc. Dr. Canan Acar said that the effects of fires have many serious consequences such as loss of biodiversity, damage to health, and increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Acar said, “The climate crisis has been an important factor in increasing the risk and extent of forest fires. The risk of wildfire depends on a number of factors, including temperature, soil moisture, and the presence of trees, shrubs and other potential fuels. All of these factors have strong direct and indirect links to the climate crisis. Climate change is accelerating the drying up of organic matter (materials that ignite and spread flames) in forests. Research shows that the crisis in the climate is creating hotter and drier conditions. "Increased drought and longer summers mean longer fire seasons, which increases the risk of wildfires."
“Climate crisis increases fire rates”
Underlining that forest fires do not only release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Assoc. Dr. Canan Acar said that green vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through photosynthesis, that is, reduces the amount of greenhouse gases. He stated that in addition to the greenhouse gases released after the burning of trees and vegetation destroyed by the fires, the fact that they are not a carbon sink triggers the risk of faster warming in the future. Acar continued, “Of course, while we experience drier and hotter weather on our planet, which is warming with increasing greenhouse gases, this situation can also trigger forest fires. In other words, while forest fires affect the climate crisis, they are also affected by this crisis. The urgent need for action has never been clearer in history. Bigger and more intense wildfires mean more exposure to smoke and pollutants. Forest fires increase air pollution in the surrounding areas and damage air quality locally. The effects of smoke from forest fires can range from eye and respiratory tract irritation to very serious consequences such as decreased lung function, bronchitis, asthma and heart failure, and premature death. The health effects of forest fires depend on many different factors, as well as short- and long-term exposure to smoke. But what is known is that exposure to smoke causes health problems in people, which directly and indirectly increases health expenditures and harms the economy. Of course, when we say health, we should evaluate the situation not only in terms of human health, but also in terms of all living things living in that forest. Forests are ecosystems, fires not only burn trees but also kill and damage insects, bees, worms, birds and other large and small animals. Unfortunately, some of these losses are irreversible. For this reason, we should consider the right to live of all living things in the forest as much as human health.”
“Forested areas should not be opened for use”
Assoc. Dr. Instructor Member Canan Acar finally said: “There is one point that should not be forgotten, that more than 80 percent of forest fires globally are caused by human intent, error or negligence. Of course, hotter and drier weather triggers the acceleration of these fires and the growth of the affected areas. The climate crisis is, of course, a problem that we must tackle and take urgent measures. But besides this, we are all responsible for the trace we leave on nature. To put it simply, not leaving our garbage behind, not throwing matches and cigarette butts indiscriminately, not lighting a fire or barbecue in our forests, especially avoiding unattended fires, not using fireworks are just a few of the things we can do. Land use and forest management also affect wildfire risk. In this regard, local governments and governments such as municipalities should not allow the conversion of forest areas to open pasture, grassland or agricultural land. It would also be an effective step to bring the burned forest areas back to life in a proper way, not for reconstruction.”