Horrendous wildfires in Indonesia five years ago accounted for a whopping 13 to 40 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions that year, according to new research published by European and Indonesian scientists in the journal Nature. The fires were probably ignited by timber companies and farmers trying to clear the drought-parched land; ultimately, the fires swept through an area twice the size of Belgium. Most of the greenhouse emissions did not come from burnt trees, but from carbon-rich deposits of peat. The research puts forest fires on the map as a leading culprit of greenhouse emissions, right up there with power plants and gas-guzzling vehicles and airplanes.
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