Three weeks of suffocation for Siberia under the silence of federal government.

One of the most disastrous consequences of the global warming are forest fires that become more frequent since global temperatures are increasing every year. The physical basis behind more frequent forest fires is anomalously prolonged conditions of excessive drought for the soils. These conditions are driven by the earlier spring snow-melt that triggers aridification of the soil. From this standpoint, Siberia is one of the most vulnerable regions for massive wildfires given the vast spaces occupied by the forests in the region, the inaccessibility of the forest fire hotspots and relatively poor infrastructure of Siberian cities for tackling issues like massive forest fires. Since the beginning of July 2019 thousands of square kilometers of Siberian forests had been burning and soon after smoke plumes cloaked hundreds of populated places in the region. Despite media have quickly responded to the wildfires by uncovering the evidences about intense hotspots of fire, visible images of smoke plumes, and aerosol optical depth estimates, local policymakers were holding their horses and the federal government remained silent until today. These fires are the strongest and largest by scales for what we have seen in the last 15 years. Mark Parrington has already reported that July northern wildfires are now unprecedented having surpassed previous highest GFAS estimates total CO2 emission in 2004/2005. These fires have already created a smoke cloak extended over 4 and a half million of kilometers squared covering central and northern Asia. According to NASA, the plumes from these fires have already reached Canada. Despite all these facts, the local authorities in Russia were cynically speculating about smaller economic losses from the consequences of the fires than the country could suffer from the fire-tackling activities. The issue has attracted the attention of the federal government just yesterday (despite fires have ignited almost a month ago) when the Prime Minister of Russia made his speech about emergency situation in Siberia alongside criticizing local authorities for prolonged hibernation. Belated response of the federal government and three weeks of ignorance from local authorities look extremely cynical considering the scale of the problem and horrifically severe consequences of such large wildfires on the disturbed environment, damaged infrastructure and enhanced global warming (due to increased release of carbon). Local TV channel the city of Krasnoyarsk (that routinely suffers from air quality deterioration according to local activists) have interviewed a pilot who intended to participate in fire suppression activity using the special aircraft but he never went to duty this year the order has never been given yet. This situation is likely a consequence of long-term precarious belief that Russia will mostly benefit from the global warming (as a country located in the conditions of harsh climate) since increasing temperature should boost infrastructure development in the hardly-accessible regions of Siberia and Far East and may help expanding agricultural activities to the regions where crops could not survive a hard winter 50 years ago. Strikingly, the officials in Russian academia still support such position as for instance Vladimir Semenov (director of the laboratory of climatology in the Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of sciences) stated that "global warming process is generally beneficial for Russia." However, the reality is different from such expectation and approves only one fact; global warming is foremost a challenge and a threat and in the least way, an opportunity. Seemingly, high-position scientists in Russia (famous with its top-bottom political system) go along with the policy-makers in Russia who treated environmental issues as a second-rate problem blindly believing their country is a warming-proof case. What we learn from the current wildfires is strikingly opposite; Russia may face one of the most devastating effects of the global warming in the following years. A shallow argument about the wildfires as a function of forest cover is not valid. Among the northern hemisphere countries, Russia is particularly vulnerable for losing forest cover due to wildfires. We can easily show that even before these wildfires Russia has been suffering from the largest forest losses (from total % of forest area) compared to the countries located in similar geographic conditions and with similar amount of forests. These numbers expressed in percentage may look insignificant but we remind that 2015 estimate corresponds to 10 million hectares of forest (during the whole season). If global warming continues at the same rate, the statistics will get worsened and it will be extremely difficult enjoy exploitation of new agricultural areas and mitigation of north-seas navigation while thousand square kilometers in the country will be burning and 1/3 of the country will be covered by the yellow haze from these fires. Remark for plot: NH* - Northern Hemisphere Data from: SEDAC global fire emissions from NASA

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