Feel The Burn! Let’s Talk Climate & Wildfires

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April 15 2019 — the whole world was glued to their screens watching as Notre Dame de Paris was swallowed in flames, praying that the firefighters can save the landmark of Paris. The next day, a number of prominent figures and companies pledged over 1billion USD to reconstruct Notre Dame.

Two months later, the flames of a catastrophic wildfire were conquering Taiga in Siberia, displacing locals and killing hundreds of animal species. However, unlike in the case of Notre Dame, international media outlets were largely silent this time. Nor have there been any pledges made to help replant the over 4.3 million hectares forest that has been destroyed.

At first glance, it may appear that the fires of Notre Dame and the Siberian Taiga seem unrelated. However, if you look closer, a devastating fire is not the only thing the two have in common. Both have been the scene for a number of literary works by French and Russian classics (Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn), both are symbols of countries and historical eras, and both are of immeasurable importance: cultural — in the case of Notre Dame and environmental — in the case of Taiga.

The public reaction is the differentiator in the two events. While the images of flaming Notre Dame dominated the world media outlets, the fires in Siberia, that have still not been put out, remain out of sight larger audiences. The authorities declared that it would cost too much to try to put out the fires, without thinking about the environmental cost of losing forestland amounting to a size larger than Denmark. The other difference is that the fires in Siberia emit black carbon that settles on the Arctic ice and accelerates its melting making this a global rather than localized problem.

Climate change, global warming, CO2 emissions — these have all become buzzwords and marketing tools in the hands of many organizations, but what is needed is deeper awareness of the repercussions in case of inaction.

Contributing to causes takes various forms — monetary, social, governmental — but it always comes down to one thing: people who care about problems that are bigger than their immediate welfare. Caring about the environment is one such cause that has everything to do with the survival of future generations.

For the fires in Siberia, we can’t even rely on governments to put them out. Where is the public sentiment and sense of urgency? This has everything to do with the survival of the generations to come because, forgive the buzzwords… there really is no Planet B.

Anna Oganesyan,

#savesiberianforests — artists take it to social media to raise awareness of wildfires in Siberia.

After the Notre-Dame Fire, Business Owners Help Raise $1 Billion to Help Rebuild — and They’re Not All French. Here’s how they did it. Perhaps we should consider similar investment for the Siberian Taiga?

The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga by Sylvain Tesson (Author), Linda Coverdale (Translator)

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