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246. Forest Fires and Climate Change

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In February 2021, forest fires in Tochigi and Gunma continued to spread for several days, and evacuation advisories were issued to neighboring residents. In recent years, forest fires have frequently occurred particularly in eastern Australia and California and have caused great damage, but their relationship with climate change is suspected.

An article on the impact of Australian bushfires on future of urban settlements was published in npj Urban Sustainability.

The forest fires that struck Australia in 2019 and 2020 were the hottest and driest climatic conditions in history, the largest in history in terms of scale, intensity and destructive power, suggesting that similar situations could occur in the future. did. Over the last few decades, several influential reports, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have predicted a crisis of wildfires in Australia by the 2020s, despite Sufficient measures have not been taken. 

The 2019-2020 fires were unprecedented in several ways, killing more than 400 people, destroying more than 3,000 homes and 7,000 facilities, and burning almost 12.6 million hectares. Over 100,000 livestocks were lost, an estimated 1 billion Australian native animals died, and nearly 80% of Australians were directly or indirectly affected by the fires. The fire engulfed the city with smoke, and during the January 2020 fire, the capital Canberra recorded the worst air pollution in the world.

The paper described the recent Australian fire as "Apocalypse now" after a war movie by Francis Ford Coppola, and mentioned the Four Horseman of Apocalypse that symbolized pandemic, famine, war and death of civilization. It is said that the apocalypse is caused by human civilization crossing ecological boundaries leading to its collapse, and is likely to lead to the current concerns on planetary boundaries.

The JIRCAS 50th Anniversary International Symposium held last year tackled the complex challenges facing the international community today: climate crisis, food security crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, and economic crisis. Reversal of climate change, prevention of pandemic expansion, and maintenance of food security cannot be solved by one country. Through international cooperation, it is necessary to systematically address the development and dissemination of climate-smart and sustainable agricultural innovations that contribute to environmental conservation, resource utilization efficiency and yield improvement.


Norman, B., Newman, P. & Steffen, W. Apocalypse now: Australian bushfires and the future of urban settlements. npj Urban Sustainability 1, 2 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42949-020-00013-7

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Research Strategy Office)

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