Les feux en Amazonie et ailleurs

The recent media storm over Amazonian flames recently caught up with me – here’s the result, in French, published in La Liberté (Fribourg), Le Nouvelliste (Sion), and Le Courrier (Genève), and in pdf. I laud the journalist Thierry Jacolet for his efforts to understand and not just populate preconceived soundbites with academic authority.

One thing this episode made me note is how easy it is to casually mis-read and mis-interpret NASA’s fantastic fire points maps. Deforestation fires just like grassland fires lead to the same red dots, which fill their pixels red and then are magnified to the point of turning the whole region red. And fire points are an imperfect substitute for area burnt; a big multi-week forest fire covering thousands of hectares in Siberia is quite different than a late afternoon pasture fire in austral Africa that dies as the evening chill sets in. But this smaller-scale confusion shouldn’t keep us from the bigger story, whereby our industrial ‘fires’ and land conversion fires are warming the climate (not the ‘normal’ grassland fires in the world’s savannas).

Listen to this great radio interview with David Bowman (also quoted in the article above) on the Amazonian fires here.

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