Only recently, I wrote a feature explaining how fire is part of the natural cycle of life for many biotopes around the world. This is definitely not the case for the Indonesian peat lands and forests that have been burning for several months, through to early November. These fires were a major environmental catastrophe caused by a combination of factors including an exceptionally strong El Niño, the use of fire to clear land for agriculture, and the draining of peat lands. With its complex connections to global climate and trade, this catastrophe may well be a taste of what the future holds, as I explain in my latest feature, out now:
A fire with global connections
Current Biology Volume 25, Issue 23 December 07, 2015, Pages R1107-R1109
PS: Underlining my point re. global connections, publication of this feature was delayed by severe flooding in Chennai, India (where typesetting and production for Current Biology is done), which may also be due to the exceptionally strong El Niño happening right now.
Greenpeace observers found new oil-palm seedlings planted in freshly burnt lands, demonstrating the connection between the fires and the deforestation for palm oil plantations. (Photo: Ardiles Rante/Greenpeace.)