More fires in Sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else on earth

Data shows five times as many fires burning in Central Africa than South America, and African governments may not be as equipped when handling them

Fires are becoming more and more common in Central Africa as a result of business expansion, mining and global warming. Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo have shown large red areas on National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) satellite imagery. The fires are threatening the Congo basin which is the world’s ‘second lung’ after the Amazon. It is common for these types of ignitions to be lit- some areas might self-combust in the dry season, but the majority comes from slash and burn agricultural practices. When old palm trees no longer grow fruit, they are set on fire and are replaced by new ones.

Surging temperatures, less rain and more logging have made forests in the global south vulnerable to blazes. Less precipitation means that soil is very dry and susceptible to sparks which is further aggravated by lack of trees; trees make land humid. There is fear that African governments will not be as prepared as Brazilian and Bolivian voluntary organizations at putting out the fires when they get out of control. However, palm oil exporting is still Congo’s most successful trade and the oil can be found in many food and cosmetic products. Some chocolate contains palm oil to give it a shiny appearance and to keep it from melting. It’s also used for lipstick, which holds colour well and has no taste. Trees are vital for our health, as they store carbon- but once they are burned, co2 emissions are released back into the atmosphere.

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