These purple, blue, and green placemarks showing heat signatures recorded by VIIRS Nightfire (VNF) over Africa have put a perspective on the vast use of slash and burn farming techniques happening as of Feb. 26, 2020. Slash and burn agriculture techniques is thought to have started sometime around 8,000 years ago. Agriculture within less hydroponically advanced countries rely on a continuous cycle of cultivation, harvest, and burning of farmland to help replenish vital nutrients for the next year’s harvest.
The sheer size of the land effected has many concerned about environment implications of the practice. In a recent lecture, head historian Joseph Horan of Colorado School of Mines explained that slash and burn techniques marked the beginning of what is referred to as the Holocene era. A geological era that is characterized by its relatively stable climate. This stability, Horan argues, is the result of greenhouse gases released by slash and burn techniques. At the beginning of the Holocene CO2 released into the atmosphere by this method warmed the planet as it began entering is next glacial phase. These opposing forces rendered the climate stabile for the next 8,000 years until the planet began warming more rapidly as a result of increased use of coal, petroleum, and natural gases. By this argumentation, human perpetuated climate change first began as a result of slash and burn agriculture and its continued practice brings an alarming new depth to climate change discussions.
Slash and Burn practices such as these have been confirmed to show no sign of regression in recent years. Organizations like NASA have begun to refer to Africa as the “Fire Continent” and for good reason. In a recent article AP news reported that close to 70% of the worlds on going fires were in Africa. While these fires are not considered to be a threat as of right now because of there controlled agricultural nature, world leaders fear for the future of the Sub- Saharan grasslands.