Restos de la vivienda de Patricia Araya, funcionaria del Jardín Botánico de Viña del Mar, afectada por el fuego, el pasado día 5.Adriana Thomasa (EFE)

¿Cómo llorar la muerte de un árbol solitario, cuando bosques enteros se queman a mansalva? ¿Y cómo hacerlo en una nación como Chile, donde cientos de seres humanos acaban de morir y muchos más han quedado heridos en la reciente conflagración abrasadora que ha devorado miles de hectáreas y demolido innumerables viviendas en vastas regiones de mi atribulado país?

Y, sin embargo, desde el amparo de mi casa en Santiago, a cien kilómetros de las carbonizaciones, por mucho que me horrorizaba la devastación que iba cobrando ingentes vidas y medios de subsistencia, no pude evitar preocuparme por un árbol en particular, una de las tantas víctimas desapercibidas de la catástrofe.…  Seguir leyendo »

We Thought We Were Saving the Planet, but We Were Planting a Time Bomb

At first, it looked like a sunset. It was just after five o’clock in June. I was running in Toronto beside Lake Ontario when I stopped to glance at my watch and noticed that the sky was no longer blue but a rusted orange. It took only a few breaths to realize the bonfire smell in the air was the drifting product of faraway wildfires.

It’s quite possible you had a similar experience this summer: The plumes of gases and soot from Quebec and northern Ontario that plagued Canada also blanketed the American Midwest and East Coast. But as I watched the sun burn a hole in the horizon, I had an additional realization: Thirty years ago, I did something that probably helped fill the sky with smoke.…  Seguir leyendo »

Forests Are No Longer Our Climate Friends

Canadian wildfires have this year burned a land area larger than 104 of the world’s 195 countries. The carbon dioxide released by them so far is estimated to be nearly 1.5 billion tons — more than twice as much as Canada releases through transportation, electricity generation, heavy industry, construction and agriculture combined. In fact, it is more than the total emissions of more than 100 of the world’s countries — also combined.

But what is perhaps most striking about this year’s fires is that despite their scale, they are merely a continuation of a dangerous trend: Every year since 2001, Canada’s forests have emitted more carbon than they’ve absorbed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women huddle after gendarmes used water cannon and teargas against them during clashes over deforestation in Ikizkoy, Muğla province, Turkey. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

This summer, as Rhodes was ravaged by wildfires and the world witnessed the destruction of precious trees and fragile ecosystems, on the opposite shore in Turkey, only miles away, ancient forests were being felled for the sake of more coal, more profit. But what the energy company hadn’t reckoned with was the resistance of local women.

Akbelen, in the province of Muğla, is a woodland of about 730 hectares (1,800 acres) that provides a natural habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna. It is this beautiful place that YK Energy, a private energy company, has been aiming to occupy in order to expand an open-pit lignite mine to supply a thermal power plant.…  Seguir leyendo »

It Is No Longer Possible to Escape What We Have Done to Ourselves

On the drive to our cottage here in June, my wife and I collided with the dense wall of Canadian wildfire smoke. The clear spring air began turning a sickly orange in the Adirondack Mountains, the sun was reduced to a red spot, and by the time we reached Montreal the skyline was barely visible from across the St. Lawrence River. On that day, June 25, Montreal had the worst air quality in the world.

Up at our lake, we soon learned to track the sheets of smoke online as they swept across Canada, down into the United States and even across the Atlantic Ocean.…  Seguir leyendo »

The aftermath of the wildfire that swept through Lahaina, Hawaii. Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hawaii has one of the most sophisticated tsunami warning systems in the world, fine-tuned over the course of almost 80 years, ever since 1946, when a 55-foot wave hit the island chain, killing 159 people.

For decades, tsunami evacuation maps have appeared in every Hawaiian telephone directory. Signs have alerted beachgoers of the hazard zones; others identified escape routes. The state now has an emergency alert system for all disasters that not only relies on sirens, which get tested on the first working day of every month everywhere in Hawaii, but also on radio and TV broadcasts. It is a system designed to save lives when disaster is about to strike.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tras los incendios, Hawái se reinventará de nuevo

La catástrofe que arrasó la semana pasada la querida población de Lahaina, al oeste de Maui, trae consigo el amargo sabor del desconcierto.

El incendio de la maleza se mezcló con unos vientos fuertes azotados por un huracán lejano y, de la noche a la mañana, la histórica ciudad había desaparecido, convertida en humo y cenizas. Un exuberante paisaje acuarelado está ahora redibujado en blanco y negro. Al menos 99 personas han muerto, y muchas más están desaparecidas.

Un huracán quemó una ciudad. Es todo muy extraño y terrible.

Vivir en Hawái el tiempo suficiente te familiariza con las catástrofes repentinas, del tipo que pueden arrasar una comunidad en una semana, un día o un instante.…  Seguir leyendo »

Smoke rises from the Texas Creek wildfire south of Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada, on July 9. Canada is already on pace to have its worst wildfire season in recorded history. BC Wildfire Service/Reuters

Dear Canada,

What I wouldn’t give to turn back the clock 40 years — to listen more closely to the harbinger wildfires and the future they foretold of catastrophes to come during my tenure as a firefighter in the United States.

Today, smoke rolling into the US from massive wildfires in provinces to the north makes me think this is Canada’s year to listen to its fires and pivot the way we should have.

One of our biggest errors: We failed to align building and infrastructure development with fire protection responsibilities.

In the US, most authority for this development rests with our local government entities, while the vast majority of wildland acres are protected by state and federal firefighting organizations.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Fossil fuel companies and their executives don’t need our money. In fact, they use it against us.’ Photograph: Canadian Forces/Reuters

Canada is on fire from coast to coast to coast. Thousands have been evacuated, millions exposed to air pollution, New York a doom orange and even the titans of Wall Street choking.

Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, back-to-back cyclones in the Pacific islands and droughts in Africa haven’t been enough to create a tipping point for action. Now that climate impacts have hit the economic capital of western power, will it spur governments in the global north to get serious?

A lack of scientific knowledge about climate change is not the barrier. Nor is a lack of cleaner, safer, cheaper energy alternatives.…  Seguir leyendo »

A commercial airplane flies past the sun, covered in haze—made from the smoke of Canadian wildfires—in Washington, D.C., on June 7. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Arsonists, space lasers, pyrotechnic drones; the global right wing is on the hunt for a culprit responsible for Canada’s raging wildfires. Not on the suspect list: climate change.

As a cloud of smoke floated from raging fires in Quebec across the Eastern Seaboard, turning the Manhattan skyline a hazy orange, conspiracy theorists on both sides of the border began peddling steadily more outlandish explanations for the unprecedented burns. In the process, they made clear just how little they understand the climate.

As it stands, there are 45 out-of-control wildfires in Canada—primarily in Nova Scotia, central Quebec, and Northern Alberta. The smoke from those fires is drifting southward, bathing New York and Washington, D.C.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Smoke Darkens the Sky, the Future Becomes Clear

My father, who died of lung cancer, used to say that as soon as people inhaled their first cigarette, they immediately knew, if they weren’t in denial, that they were harming themselves.

I felt the same way on Tuesday in New York, my eyes itching and my nose burning and the taste in my throat like I’d swallowed a charcoal bonbon. This had to be bad. The sky wasn’t quite the apocalyptic orange of Australia’s Black Summer or San Francisco’s Day the Sun Didn’t Rise, but it had grown confrontationally eerie, enveloping the city in a blanket of toxic smog.

Until now, if people in the green and leafy Northeast looked at arid Western cities covered in smoke from wildfires, they could say, that can’t happen here, thank God.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imagen del interior del tren de Bejís difundida por los pasajeros.

Hablar de "el tren de la muerte" puede parecer el título de una película o de una obra de teatro. En cualquier caso, no es mi intención evocar recuerdos dolorosos relacionados con trenes y muerte.

Pero, efectivamente, así podríamos titular lo que se vivió el día 16 de agosto en el tren que cubría el trayecto Valencia-Zaragoza, a la altura de la zona de Bejís, donde se había declarado un terrible incendio forestal.

Los hechos son conocidos por todos. Y, cómo no, silenciados por algunos.

Escenario 1, el real: un tren se dirige hacia dicho incendio y nadie para ese tren.…  Seguir leyendo »

Trabajos de liquidación y refresco efectuados en el incendio forestal de Useres (Castellón).Foto: UME (UME/EFE)

No esperen nuestros pacientes lectores que este retorno post viajero a mi billete semanal “con la verdad por delante” sea tranquilo, flemático ni ecuánime. Estamos absolutamente indignados, cabreados e incendiados, nunca mejor dicho, y al borde de propuestas irracionalmente violentas. Todo ello por la constatación de que en temas cruciales concretos, pero cruciales, para el bien común de los españoles, y absolutamente técnicos y científicos, llevamos lustros en manos de sectarios peligrosos y destructivos, parece que analfabetos además. Nos referimos a la plaga de incendios devastadores que lleva asolando (en los dos sentidos de asolar) nuestra patria. Ante la pavorosa realidad, la primera estupidez de premio de concurso internacional es llevar la atención al debate superfluo de si se deben o no al mini o mega ciclo de calentamiento del planeta y sus causas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Llevamos semanas viendo en las pantallas cómo arde el campo español. Hemos pasado de la pena a la rabia, y otra vez a la pena. Es normal; aunque la mayoría vivamos en núcleos urbanos, muchos seguimos teniendo lazos reales y sentimentales con la España rural.

Pero lo más desconcertante, a medida que avanza el fuego, es esa sensación de ser espectadores de lo inevitable, como si los incendios fueran producto de la mera providencia y no quedara más que apretar los dientes cada vez que, en el telediario, aparece la cortinilla roja con el título: “España en llamas”.

Somos como aquella familia de la novela Ruido de fondo, de Don DeLillo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Episodios terribles, como el de un gran incendio forestal, nos remiten al origen. Me refiero a la importancia que en ese origen tienen los símbolos, que según María Zambrano son los que nos revelan los misterios y que, en momentos de crisis supremas, nos llevan a aferrarnos a ellos. Pensando en los de la naturaleza, algunos de los más notables son la montaña, el río, la mar, el camino, la fuente y, por supuesto, el bosque. Ellos están en la tradición poética universal. Son temas eternos. Los símbolos están presentes en nuestras primeras contemplaciones de infancia y de adolescencia y jamás se van de nuestras mentes.…  Seguir leyendo »

An orphaned joey that was rescued during the bushfires in Wytaliba, New South Wales in 2019. Photograph: Jorge Silva/Reuters

In November 2019 I wrote about the bushfires and burnoffs and calling for better political leadership. A few weeks ago we lit the first hazard reduction burn around our house since those fires. It brought up a few memories and feelings.

It’s two years now since the first fires came. They had been near Armidale and Tenterfield for a couple of weeks; then they were much closer. A hot day, a big wind and an ember from kilometres away landed high on the Leather Jacket Ridge that runs through the middle of Wytaliba, our 3,500-acre community. Over the next week, with calmer and cooler conditions that fire burned slowly downhill to our settlement areas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Residents of Gouves on the Greek island of Evia watch as wildfires spread towards their homes. Photograph: Ayman Oghanna/Getty Images

After the second world war, Greece’s countryside experienced two debilitating human surges – an exodus of villagers, then a most peculiar human invasion of its fringes. These two surges, aided by a weak state and abetted by the climate crisis, have turned the low-level drama of naturally redemptive forest fires into this summer’s heart-wrenching catastrophe.

After heatwaves of unprecedented longevity, wildfires across the summer months have so far destroyed more than 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of ancient pine forests. They have blackened swathes of Attica, scorched parts of ancient Olympia and obliterated north Evia’s magnificent forests – whose rural communities lost their homes, not to mention their livelihoods and landscapes.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Fires in Greece Are a Terrifying Warning

Six years after finding themselves at the forefront of Europe’s political crisis over refugees, thousands of Greeks are now refugees in their own country.

On July 21, a small wildfire began burning over the northern half of Evia, an island around 30 miles northeast of Athens. Over the next 20 days — most of which exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees Celsius — it swelled into a vast conflagration, sweeping from one coastline of Evia to another and racking up a staggering balance sheet of damage: 120,000 acres of burned forest, hundreds of millions of euros in economic loss, and the wholesale evacuation of dozens of villages and thousands of islanders.…  Seguir leyendo »

A fire-extinguishing helicopter of the Turkish Gendarmerie approaches a wildfire Aug. 8 in Mugla province in southern Turkey. (Emre Tazegul/AP)

Since July 28, wildfires have ravaged many areas in Turkey, causing widespread damage along the southwestern coast. The worst in the country’s modern history, the fires so far have taken nine lives, destroyed more than 230,000 acres of forest land, caused massive air pollution and displaced thousands.

But the 200 or more wildfires throughout the country also triggered a major political crisis for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Why do many in Turkey hold the Erdogan regime accountable for this summer’s disaster?

Turkish citizens for the most part don’t blame Erdogan for the fires. Experts claim that this year’s Mediterranean wildfires, which have also hit areas of Greece, Italy, Spain and Lebanon, are a product of climate change.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flames soars through the forest on Monday in Mugla, Marmaris district, in Turkey. (Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images)

Swimming in the pristine waters of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast a few weeks ago, I thought, “No wonder this is the setting for so much of mythology.” The ice-cold turquoise water was surrounded by rich pine forests and replenished by underground streams from the mountaintops. With only a few swimmers on the forest’s edge, nature’s dance from green to blue was breathtaking.

But that may no longer be the case. A stone’s throw away from where I was swimming, fires are ravaging local communities and seaside resorts. With a heat wave bringing record temperatures, dozens of wildfires have devastated scenic forests on the Turkish Riviera and threatened the seaside towns of Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris.…  Seguir leyendo »