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Siberian Forests Are Burning


Siberian Forests Are Burning

Click to see the full-size image

This article was written in part using some data, materials, and opinion from RBK portal but, in the main, relying on FBU Avialesokhrana aviales.ru, one of the most modern ecological monitoring systems in the world which relies on daily satellite surveillance data.

The forests of Siberia are burning! Russian media are full of impressive headlines with terrifying photos, social media are abuzz, the Russian “creative class” is made far more anxious than by the Moscow protests.

The Earth is losing its lungs, which are destroyed by the Putin regime neglect.

“First they chopped everything down, then set it on fire to conceal it”, “they stole everything”, they want to hurt the whole civilized humanity,” “it would be better if Hitler captured Siberia”—these, sadly, are not jokes but some of the narratives being spread.

The number of posts in social media made in the last few weeks, mainly in Russian, about Siberian fires now runs into many hundreds of thousands. This level of activity is so unusual that Robert Mueller can’t sleep from burning envy. He didn’t have one tenth of such volume when it came to elections.

We’ve tracked the situation since the problem appeared in Russia in the first half of July of this year. Recently RBK, a pro-Western but de jure Russian publication, published an interesting overview. Where, with  references to data, including from Greenpeace, it describes the actual state of fires in Siberia.

RBK writes that “the bulk of the negative reaction of social media users is linked to the scale of the fires”.

Many social media users are citing Greenpeace statistics: “according to Greenpeace, last year Russia lost to fires the greatest amount of forest in a decade—1.7 million hectares. This year, that record was exceeded by a factor of two!”

Greenpeace did not confirm this data and could not identify its source. Official statistics do not reveal any anomalous figures by comparison with previous years. In 2018, some 72.9 hectares of forests were destroyed in 2018 (a roughly similar amount, 72.2 million, was destroyed by insects). As of midnight of July 31, 2019, Russia had 147 active forest fires covering 197.1 hectares which were being actively combated, and 321 fires (covering 2.882 million hectares) under “constant observation” but not being extinguished because “there is not threat to populated areas and the cost of firefighting exceeds the predicted damage inflicted by the fire”.

The corresponding indicators for July 31 of last year are somewhat smaller but not by a factor of two, particularly if one considers the area covered by the fires—81 fires were being extinguished, covering 64 thousand hectares, and 205 were under observation (2.4 million hectares).

Moreover, starting in early 2019 and until the end of July, the area of all detected forest fires (which is not the same as the area of destroyed forest) amounts to 8.82 million hectares. It’s not greatly different from the same period last year—over the seven months of 2018, fires affected 8.4 million hectares (8.67 over the entire 2018).

Siberian Forests Are Burning

Click to see the full-size image

When comparing the data on the current fire area (as of July 31) to the official data on the forest volume, in not a single Russian region is more than 1% of forests suffering a fire. The data from July 5, 2019 show that the fires are spreading with reduced speed, due to effective firefighting or weather. Of course, there’s the “snowflake” interpretation: everything burned down and we didn’t notice.

Siberian Forests Are Burning

Click to see the full-size image

Greenpeace Russia provided RBC with its own fire assessment data. The organization agreed with the official Russian Forestry Service (Rosleskhoz) data concerning last year’s fires. This was confirmed to RBK by the head of the firefighting department of Greenpeace Russia, Grigoriy Kuksin. “The most objective official data currently existing in the country are in the 4ISDM format (the ISDM Rosleskhoz remote monitoring system).  It is based on space surveillance data.” Kuksin explained that as of last year regional data is nearly exactly the same as ISDM data. This is due to the fact that the regions do not transmit their information in a timely manner, but catch up by the end of the year.

In other words, while this could become an anomalous fire year, there are no major deviations so far form average yearly statistics. The reason for the growing number of fires on the enormous territory of Siberia are obvious—it’s climate change. The inhabitants of central and southern Europe felt it on their skin when temperatures reached 36-40 degrees Celsius, while the inhabitants of Central Russia experienced only 7-11 degrees Celsius in early August.

However, data and common sense are not fashionable among the modern glamor society. Particularly when there is a chance to hype the theme of “all is lost, I am crying, please appreciate my concern.”

The number of social media posts concerning fires exceeded a million during the recent weeks. The information campaign was joined by many fashionable bloggers and publicists. Nearly all the posts by the popular bloggers and ordinary posters are accompanied by pictures of fires. But over 90% of photos used are from other fires. They are fires in Canada, California (USA), Greece, or other countries, or Russian fires but from 2011, 2013, and other past years. They have nothing to do with the current fires. In other words, the glamorous Russian content-makers did not even bother to check what they were publishing. There is no genuine journalism here, or any effort to work side by side with the firefighters. That is what the contemporary Russian office plankton and big city ne’er-do-wells amount to. /We know what we speak of, this is not an attack on Russians/

According to Medialogia data which RBK asked to analyze user activity concerning “Siberia forest fires” on social media and blogs during the last weeks, there was a sharp, nearly 100% increase in activity on 24-25 July.

And then, at the end of a decent article citing factual data, RBC’s content writers point out that the spike in activity took place “on the eve of an unsanctioned demonstration in support of Moscow opposition candidates, when the number of posts increased from 50.5 thousand to 95.4 thousand in a day”.

What does that mean? Did RBC’s content writers demonstrate the understanding of one of the key prerequisites for effective use of soft power, namely the need to promote anti-regime hysteria to the maximum when actions were put in motion, namely the protests? In this instance, the openly pro-Western protests in Moscow.

However, this is how RBC’s content writing team concludes the article (this is the article that was accessed on August 6, 2019):

“Using a large number of various social media accounts, hashtags, a certain number of influencers and an actual topic, one can greatly increase its weight”, according to PRT Edelman Affiliate General Director Gleb Sakhrai. “It can be made into the most important idea in the heads of people and make everything else recede. Forest fires are perfectly suited simply because ecological catastrophies are highly photogenic, and there is a huge amount of photos of such events on the internet.”



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  • AM Hants

    Good luck Russia. Why does HARRP come to mind, when I read of the problems in Siberia?

    Why are NATO still antagonising the Russian Defence Minister, when he is flying from one military base to another? Have they nought better to do? Or are they hoping to get intelligence back, from the Russian jets, intercepting them?

    NATO F-18 Fighter Jet Tried to Approach Russian Defence Minister’s Aircraft Over Baltic Sea – MoD… https://sputniknews.com/military/201908131076540325-natos-f-18-fighter-jet-tried-to-approach-russian-defence-ministers-aircraft-over-baltic-sea—mod/

  • adam77

    These fires are caused by ABORTION BANS, mostly in the global south. The Russia people have helped greatly with their exemplary fertility rate, through Putin’s pronatalist rhetoric has not been helpful. Once people are born, their need for wood is inevitable, except for some billionaire mansions, mostly in USA.

  • Rodger

    Yeah, it gets slightly warmer and the (uneconomic/biotope poor) forests dry out. Then they burn and are replaced by grasslands that are fertilized by the ashes. Completely natural and good. Russia should import loads of Dutch farmers to build massive new farms that become possible through climate change. That way Russia increases its food safety and extra economic growth. But hippies only ever see negative sides to change.

    • democritos

      Then they burn and are replaced by grasslands that are fertilized by the ashes. Completely natural and good

      this is false idea. You need centuries to get quality soil for agriculture. In tayga will be the similar devastation as in Brasil. 3 years food, later sand…

      • Rodger

        Nah, tropical rainforests hardly have any humus-layer and in the taiga it can get very very thick. That’s because in tropical regions plant matter decays so fast and plants grow so fast because of the light and warmth while in the north it’s cold and not so bright so decay and plant growth both go slow. Anyway they don’t burn the stuff down for high intensity farming so the comparison fails too there. First use the grasslands for low-intensity cattle ranching.

  • Real Anti-Racist Action

    Of course. Because just anyone can walk across the border because it has no walls and no security. Anyone can walk over and burn Russia to the ground. You would need a big beautiful Trump wall that he has talked about to curb drugs, smuggling, agents crossing over and so forth.
    Till Russia locks down their own boarders, Russia will continue to be invaded by non-Russians who do harm to Russia.

  • Toronto Tonto

    All of Russia will burn with putin and pals at the helm .
    Get your shit together ruskies Time has come for a party in red square .

    • Icarus Tanović

      There are narcotics have parry in your body, you creeper. If you applaude this, I just can’t gat the idea how stupid you are…

  • neil barron

    Good luck on the forest fires it has been found that all the world has fought forest fires from time immemorial the planet has not succumb to any known death fall outs.

  • democritos

    Chinese, the chinese re guilty. More than 500 chinese firms got concession for wood-cutting. China will destroy the whole tayga within 10 years. :( The corrupt russian local polititians and ologarchs sell out that beautiful land.

  • Icarus Tanović

    What is this? This is clearly, yearly diversion by foreign agents. It is so obvious. Keep up Russia, The World is with you.

  • Paul

    In Australia the forests grow back twice as thick after a bushfire, and it doesn’t take long. Nothing to see here.

  • Brian Michael Bo Pedersen

    Its forest fires, like it have happend for thousands and thousands of years.

    Many forest actually benefits from fires, many forest, left alone, will sufficate themselves and cover the ground in deep layers of leaves and needels wich will suck water and act like a sponge, making the forest rot.

    I live in a big forest area in Denmark, and i have seen forests choke themselves and seen forests being “saved” by a fire or human interacting/cleanup if you like.

    And as a Aussie says below, a fire can actually strenghten a forest and be a nessisary evil.

  • Bill Wilson

    This is no big deal, it’s just Mother Nature renewing the Carbon Cycle by starting wildfires. The ash provides nutrients for new growth whose seeds often require exposure to high heat to sprout. The fires also level stands of dead trees that died off from disease, insects and old age. Those always go out on they run out of fuel or are doused by rainfall.