By: Hassan Beydoun
Summary: On October 13th, the combination of temperatures pushing 100 degrees Fahrenheit and strong winds, caused the pine-tree dense mountains of Lebanon to burst in flames. The conditions also fostered the spreading of this fire, which found its way to residential areas such as Chouf and Khroub. These wildfires quickly claimed the title of the worst fires to hit Lebanon in decades. Officials say that over one hundred fires started with in a twenty-four hour time period. Nearly three million trees were lost in Lebanon due to fires in 2019 so far, evening out tree rehabilitation efforts over the past 15 years Surrounding countries like Cyprus and Greece sent over supplies and helicopters, for Lebanese fire equipment was outdated and the maintenance was underfunded. The fires claimed the life of one firefighter who died of suffocation in the city of Aley, and hospitalized nearly a hundred people. Some were quick to blame forest management for their inability to maintain the rich Mediterranean biome forests, for these conditions can fuel any fire that starts. Or the government's reluctance to repair and keep up with maintenance of helicopters used to contain fires, as well as other fire fighting equipment. Others blame climate change because it is very uncommon for such record breaking temperatures to be present in mid October. Regardless, citizens call on the Lebanese government to put plans into place, invest in a better fire fighting system, and better maintain the forests because scientists expect global temperatures to only rise from here.
Why we should care? I believe that as temperatures continue to increase worldwide, so will the risks of fires. By tackling the same problems that are causing more fires, we can also address things like rising sea levels.
Example News Article:
I find this particular article interesting because it emphasizes the fires in Lebanon are a part of a global trend. In 2019, the fire season claimed forests in Brazil, the Congo Basin in Africa, Siberia, Lebanon, the United States of America, Australia, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Poland, France, Italy, Greece, Bolivia, etc.These fires burned over 4 million acres, and some are still burning today. This article acknowledges the connection between global warming and the increase in warmer and drier conditions, with the increased frequency and severity of wildfires today. Additionally, it recognizes that lack of money that contributed to the spread of the fires in Lebanon. This is important because it shows that a lot of the time, its countries that can't afford the costs of climate change that are paying the price of a developed country footprint.
Science in Action.
Dr. George Mitri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Balamand in Tripoli, Lebanon.
George Mitri and his colleagues looked to develop the capacity of the Lebanese to assess and manage wildfire risk in Lebanon’s wildland-urban interface (WUI) in light of future climate change and human development in wildland areas. I believe this is an important step in dealing with fires in Lebanon. This is because it focuses on the connection between future climate change, and continued human development, and what both of those things mean when it comes to wildfires. Rising temperatures, a key indicator of climate change, evaporated moisture out of the ground, making vegetation even more flammable. Additionally, snow cover is melting sooner than ever before, making the time frame for fires to start that much longer. In fact, wildfire season is three and a half months longer than it was decades ago. All While shifting climate patterns are causing drought prone areas more successful at avoiding rainy patterns. These climate facts are crucial when attempting to combat and plan for future fires. Although Lebanon itself can not do much to mitigate climate change on a global scale, it can prepare its citizens to recognize and deal with a future full of flames.