US News Argentina ravaged by fires

15:10  29 august  2020
15:10  29 august  2020 Source:   liberation.fr

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Cattle ranching and drought have turned the Paraná River grasslands to tinder, threatening disaster for the area’s wildlife.

Argentina is a land of plenty, producing cereals, vegetables, meat and fruit, all products that will always be in demand somewhere. And yet its export industry has been badly affected by the worldwide lockdown provoked by the virus, which the UN says could lead to global export restrictions.

Un feu de forêt dans le delta du fleuve Parana, particulièrement touché, le 1er août. © MARCELO MANERA A forest fire in the delta of the Parana river, particularly affected, on August 1st. While 95% of claims are believed to be due to human activity, the center and north of the country have been facing a catastrophic drought since the start of the year.

Nine of Argentina's 23 provinces are in the grip of forest fires, some of them catastrophic. Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Juan Cabandié called the situation "tragic and worrying" after flying over the Córdoba region on Thursday. The other focus where the fire seems to be out of control is the Parana River Delta, on the border with Paraguay.

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Severe thunderstorms are pelting some regions of Australia suffering from historic wildfires with powerful rain, bringing much-needed relief to firefighters battling some of the worst blazes the country has seen in decades.

The Country Fire Service says the fire is not yet under control and forecast high temperatures in the coming days are causing concern. Premier Daniel Andrews warned there would be more emergency alerts in the coming week, including for already fire - ravaged East Gippsland and northeast Victorian

The National Fire Management Service (SNMF), an official body created in 1996 to coordinate firefighting, states in a report that "95% of disasters are due to human activity: campfires, bad cigarette ends. extinct, unmaintained land, burnt to create pasture ”. Other factors pointed out by the SNMF are "the lack of precipitation, high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds". For several days, Córdoba, the second largest city in the country, and its surroundings have been covered with a cloud of ash.

530 km2 of devastated wetland

Argentina has experienced catastrophic drought since the start of the year, affecting 60% of its territory. July was the sixth driest month in a century, when this time of year, the southern winter, is expected to be humid. Researchers are particularly concerned about the Parana Delta, one of the most powerful and biodiverse in the world. This 14,000 km2 territory, where 700 species of plants and animals have been recorded, constitutes the third hydrographic network in the world, after those of the Amazon and the Congo. Using satellite images, the environmental association Naturalistas Santafesinos calculated that more than 530 km2 of wetland had been devastated by the end of July, the equivalent of three times the area of ​​the capital, Buenos Aires. The level of Parana, "small sea" in the Guarani language, is the lowest recorded since 1971.

Fires are progressing in California, 175,000 people evacuated

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A massive forest blaze is still raging on the holiday island of Gran Canaria as hundreds of firefighters have spent the night trying to contain flames of up

The fires are in part the result of a prolonged drought. The months of January through November were the second driest period on record since 1902, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Average rainfall has also been down most months nationwide since early 2017. New South Wales, in particular, has seen

"Fires have an immediate effect and other effects that are discovered in the medium and long term: animal mortality, loss of 'natural habitats for many species, soil depletion, water and air pollution, and impact on CO2 emissions, "explained to AFP at the beginning of the month Graciela Klekailo, from the National University of Rosario (UNR). Environmental associations are calling for a vote in Parliament for a law on the protection of these ecosystems, which would make it possible to determine the uses of these territories and guarantee the environmental protection of the delta. But the text, presented twice before Parliament, never obtained a sufficient number of votes.

"Lack of control and carelessness"

As in the case of the Brazilian Amazon, cattle ranchers are the number one suspect. They are accused of lighting fires to "clean" the pastures, the ashes making them more fertile. The Ministry of the Environment has filed a criminal complaint against ranchers and farmers. The latter categorically reject these accusations. They claim that the fires are also limiting their activities and denounce a “lack of control and carelessness” on the part of the authorities in the management of the area.

The thick fumes are causing respiratory problems for residents, while the health context is already made difficult by the coronavirus pandemic. In June, researchers detected that the air in the city of Rosario contained five times more particulate matter than allowed standards.

California fires. More than 200 people evacuated by .
helicopter © AFP A satellite image shows the extent of the fires, in red, and already burned areas, in blue, in part of northern California. The National Guard carried out aerial rotations overnight from Saturday to Sunday to rescue people threatened by forest fires ravaging the north of the West American state. At least two of them are seriously burned. Dozens of people trapped by an wildfire in northern California were evacuated by helicopter on Saturday, September 5.

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