In Chile 32,000 acres of national park forest have been destroyed due to a fire now being blamed on an Israeli tourist’s negligence. There has been a total of 48 fires, 15 of which were not contained as of Sunday. The Israeli denies the charges leveled against him, he is being detained and there is a possibility of a fine ($300) and a 60 day prison sentence. The fires have killed one elderly man, who refused to leave his home, and over 500 have had to evacuate the area.
Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia is located on the Southwest boarder between Argentina and Chile and is an area of Chile that does generally suffer forest fires in the summer season. The drought that has plagued Chile throughout 2010 and 2011 has made this season particularly disastrous. The earthquake in 2010 and the continuing droughts have wreaked havoc, not only on the Chilean landscape, but on the economy. President Sebastian Pinera’s plans to guide Chile into the forefront of the world’s economy have been hard hit in the face of these natural disasters. The drought has devastated avocado crops for two years running, and its side effects, including the recent fires, are equally trying for the country.
On a wider scale, the weather patters shifting around the world are cause for concern and a combined effort to affect policies that will enable global stabilization is definitely needed. Especially because, despite the large scale issues at stake, these challenges are fought, every day, by individuals on the ground.