Our planet is burning. After Australia, Siberia and Amazonia, California is now burning massively (these fires can slightly be seen on this far view of the Earth).
In these dramatic fire situations are often triggered by man-made interventions (in Amazonia by land owners and California potentially by the drought and heat increase provoked by the ongoing global warming). But let us look at fires from a more systematic standpoint in the Earth system.
Fire plays an important role in nutrient cycling, diversity maintenance and habitat structure. Many ecosystems, particularly prairie, savanna, chaparral and coniferous forests, have evolved with fire as an essential contributor to habitat vitality and renewal. But natural wildfires have often been eradicated by humans. The suppression of fire can lead to unforeseen changes in ecosystems that often adversely affect the plants, animals and humans that depend upon that habitat. Many plant species in fire-affected environments require fire to germinate, establish, or to reproduce. Wildfire suppression not only eliminates these species, but also the animals that depend upon them.In this era of rising temperatures, the role of fires needs to be better understood as part of the ongoing effort to develop a new balance between man and the biosphere.