Preventing wildfires, by an ex-firefighter

In case you missed it, here's your Ours to Save newsletter for the week beginning 19th July.

As wildfires rage, US fire ecologists grapple with lack of data 🔥

I used to fight wildfires. We need to understand how they grow if we want to prevent and extinguish them.

Each year, tens of thousands of wildfires flare in the US. Most are small, averaging under 200 acres, but a few dozen grow into megafires, often rapidly, in events known as ‘blow-ups’. Right now, amidst heatwaves, 12 US states are battling over 70 wildfires. 

Fire ecologists work to uncover patterns and build tools that will help firefighters. Understanding the behaviour of small fires is crucial, but there’s a problem: lack of geospatial data.

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What has climate change meant for the Caribbean? 🌴

“A liveable future for all Small Island Developing States hangs in the balance as we barrel towards a threshold from which recovery is unlikely.”

Ours to Save spoke to ocean scientist Danielle Nembhard about depleting reef cover and tropical storms in the Caribbean, campaigning for representation in science, and what environmentally sustainable development looks like.

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Ecosia: real online activism in the age of greenwash? 🌳

Ours to Save takes a good look at the methodology behind Ecosia – the search engine that says it’s planted 29 million trees to date.

Ecosia supports tree planting companies who work with local communities in biodiversity hotspots to restore ecosystems and sequester carbon. In the Sahel, for example, their tree planting efforts are a last-ditch attempt to combat desertification. This in turn protects livelihoods and endangered plant and animal species. 

Pieter Van Midwoud, Chief Tree Planting Officer, tells us: “We’re really keen to spread awareness on the multiple benefits of trees: biodiversity, community impact and carbon definitely, but not just carbon.” 

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This London neighbourhood is caked in dust. Why is nothing being done about it? ☁️

In parts of Newham, one of London’s poorest boroughs, residents are suffering the fallout from rapid redevelopment and bad planning. 

In the area surrounding West Silvertown DLR station, roads and pavements are periodically coated with thick layers of sand. Dust settles on doorsteps, windows and just about any other flat, external surface. Otherwise, it simply hangs in the air – presenting a serious risk to human health. 

“Since I moved here in 2019, I have had two asthma attacks due to the dust”, a resident of Copeland Court, just off the North Woolwich Road, tells Ours to Save. “I’ve since been given an extra asthma pump to help me breathe. I can only open my windows when it rains, and this is causing havoc in my health.” 

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👋 See you next week!