MEGAFIRES INVESTIGATING A GLOBAL THREAT

MEGAFIRES INVESTIGATING A GLOBAL THREAT

Country:

Belgium, France, Japan

Year:

Language

Subtitles:

Director:

2019

English, French, Greek, Indonesian

English

Cosima Dannoritzer

All over the globe, catastrophic wildfires are threatening not only our homes and our lives, but also the climate and our future. This documentary travels to the US, Canada, Europe and Asia to follow the work of a dedicated global community of scientists, firefighters and fire experts as they light experimental fires in laboratories, study the history of our forests and put under scrutiny the escalating range and impact of the blazes, from hidden smoldering fires deep inside the soil to smoke clouds reaching all the way up into the stratosphere. Why are megafires beyond human control and what makes them so insatiable? What is our part of the responsibility in For more than a decade, wildfires of unprecedented force have been devouring our forests at a steady pace. Each year, 350 million hectares of forest go up in smoke, the equivalent of six times the size of France. In the US, the fire season now lasts up to two months longer than a generation ago, and the surface burnt annually has multiplied by three. Predictable fire seasons have become a things of the past, with wildfires now making headlines all around the globe and all year round. The biggest and most ferocious fires, so-called 'megafires', are proving to be unstoppable even by experienced firefighters and cutting-edge technology. Even worse: megafires are increasingly attacking our communities, devouring family homes and claiming lives. The consequences are potentially terrifying: whole suburban communities are becoming deathly firetraps; many of the scarred and blackened landscapes left behind may never fully recover. Wildfires damage our health, aggravate climate change and affect the economy. But ironically, the more effort is mustered by modern firefighters, the more susceptible our forests seem to become to the hungry flames. This is a reality which scientists already predicted several decades ago, and which is set to get even worse. The effort we put into adapting to this changing world will be decisive. Can we learn to co-exist with fire? During a gripping journey of investigation, from Europe to the US, Canada, and Indonesia, we will follow the work of a global team of dedicated firefighters, scientists and fire experts as they investigate why our forests are going up in flames, why the new megafires are beyond human control, and how we can learn to protect ourselves. We will also meet the communities whose lives have been changed forever, often fatally, by megafires that engulfed their towns, and find out how ordinary citizens are taking action to protect their homes, families and their future. In the face of impending catastrophe, can we move on from our ingrained belief that humans can control everything, including fire, and instead, learn to co-exist and live safely with fire, before our forests, cities and our climate are changed forever by the catastrophic flames? To get started, we need to understand how fire actually works, and fundamentally change our view of it. Fire is not the enemy but a natural process, one that has historically been key to maintaining our eco-system. Now, this elemental mechanism is the starting point for possible solutions and new ways of living with fire in the future.

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Cosima Dannoritzer

Director

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