Moscow Engulfed in Peat Smoke As City's Record-Breaking Heat Sets Off Fires

russia heat wave photo

photo: AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

If you're sweating through a heatwave right now, take comfort knowing that you don't have massive peat-fires sending smoke across your town too, like in Moscow: The Russian capital experienced a record high of 99°F, on Monday (the hottest since records began in the late 1800s), with the heatwave setting off peat fires, causing air quality to be 5-8 higher than normal. According to Economic Times, there are currently 34 peat fires and 26 forest fires, covering some 145 acres of land, in the area surrounding Moscow. Greenpeace Russia says that these fires could create the worst smog conditions in the city since the 19th century.

The heatwave is exacerbated by drought, which has not been broken since June. As of July 22, the Agriculture Ministry has reported that 38,600 square miles of crops have been destroyed from heat and lack of rain--that's an area larger than Portugal.

Burning Peat Sends Stored Greenhouse Gases Back Into Atmosphere
The part of the story untold, and which links it together with deforestation stories half a world away, is that those peat lands on fire are massive stores of greenhouse gas emissions. When burned not only is the carbon storage potential eliminated, the stored emissions are released into the atmosphere, in addition to creating unhealthy particulate pollution.

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