As temperatures in Siberia soar and drought stalks the vasttaiga, the danger that Siberian forest fires could become sohuge that the smoke threatens the climate of the entireplanet rises. The fires are set naturally, by ‘drylightning,’ and by illegal timber firms who sell cheaplumber to China.

The destruction to this forest is so great that 157 firesburning across the region in 2003 sent a plume of smokethree thousand miles across Japan. Atmospheric scientistslater detected smoke from the fires in Seattle.

The boreal forests of Siberia are essential to the health ofthe atmosphere, because the slow-growing trees absorb morecarbon dixoide than any other land-based area.

Licenses to cut healthy forests in Russia are expensive, butthe cutting of burned timber costs far less, encouraginglumber companies to intentionally set fires in order to getthe timber more cheaply.

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