Forest fires fuel record-breaking carbon emissions

This summer’s catastrophic forest fire season in Europe has done more harm than the obvious, releasing record amounts of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Officials say it’s the worst year France has seen since 2003.

The forest fires in France this summer have been making news all over the globe for the sheer number and destruction they have caused, but there is another victim in this calamity: the environment.

The fires have also burned their way through Spain and have been the worst carbon-emitters seen since record-keeping began. They have released vast amounts of CO2, whilst also depleting the number of trees that normally absorb it. This puts additional strain on already threatened ecosystems and is exasperating the already perilous global warming situation, according to experts.

“Global warming makes it easier for these fires to start and spread,” said Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, former Vice President of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Ypersele says that fires will become part of the yearly landscape, so “we have to prepare ourselves and try to take all the measures to reduce the risk by managing the forests and water in a different way, so that the consequences for humans and ecosystems are not too great. Global warming will continue to worsen if we don’t succeed in reducing CO2 emissions.”

Another casualty of the fires has been air quality. The fires release greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, methane and nitrogen oxides, which are toxic to humans, as well as aerosols, soot and tars, according to a Copernicus Report released by the EU. These elements affect the air that people breathe, and can be dangerous for those who suffer with respiratory conditions.

It is said that the French fires emitted a million tonnes of carbon, equalling the yearly output from 790,000 cars, between June and 11th August. As the year is nowhere near over, the last record set in 2003 with 1.3 million tonnes, is sure to be broken by this year’s end, says the report. In Spain, the records are already surpassed, showing that fires between 1st June and 17th July caused higher emissions than June to July totals from 2003 to 2021.

The fires were clearly made worse by the endless heatwave that blanketed much of the Iberian Peninsula and France this summer, also a result of climate change.

Once a fire is out and the smoke has dissipated, the impact on the climate is measured in terms of the number of trees that have burned. Once they are gone, plants can no longer play their role as “carbon sinks”, reservoirs that store atmospheric carbon using a natural or artificial mechanisms. Atmospheric chemist Sophie Szopa recently spoke to Ouest-France and said that forests in France capture one-quarter of the country’s CO2 emissions. 

“Carbon sinks in France have been declining since the 1990s, partly because of growth and drought problems. Fires are an additional pressure,” she said.

A forest that has burned can take up to three decades to absorb carbon released during a fire, if they do not catch fire again in that timeframe.

The Copernicus Report also noted another unpleasant biproduct from this summer. There is an increase in surface ozone brought on by heat episodes such as the ones recently experienced. This ozone mixes with other air pollutants, such as car emissions, creating smog and being the precursor to other events, such as the “holes” created in the natural ozone layer witnessed in the 1980’s and 90’s.

“The potential impacts of very high ozone pollution on human health can be considerable, both in terms of respiratory and cardiovascular disease,” Parrington explained in the Copernicus report. “High values can lead to symptoms such as sore throats, coughing, headaches and an increased risk of asthma attacks. The Clean Air Alliance estimates that ozone pollution causes about 1 million additional deaths per year. That’s why it’s crucial that we monitor surface ozone levels.”

Van Ypersele said that “whether they are ready or not, our societies are going to be forced to reduce our climate footprint, if we want to be able to leave our children, our grandchildren, with a habitable planet,” warning that more extreme occurrences such as these will become part of the norm, causing more harm to the environment.

He also added that climate change cannot be brought under control until the world lessens dependency on fossil fuels, which are still a full 80% of the world’s energy providers.

“If we don’t fundamentally change the way this system works, which too often focuses on short-term profit without regard to the long-term consequences of the decisions that are taken, then unfortunately the environment and the climate in particular will be affected,” he explained. 




Photo by Malachi Brooks on Unsplash




Covid latest: New cases down, hospitalisations up

The battle with Covid continues, with this week’s numbers showing fewer positive cases and a lower incidence rate, but slightly more patients being cared for in hospital.

The latest figures from the government show that, as of Sunday 14th August, there was a total of 81 people in the Principality who had contracted the coronavirus in the week prior.

This number is down on the previous week, when 92 new cases were reported, while totals were also down on the number of patients being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre, which went from 53 to 46 in a week. Hospitalisations, increased from 11 to 15 people, including 11 residents, however the two patients in intensive care had recovered sufficiently enough to be removed from the unit.

Testing figures were down last week as well, with 1,070 people carrying out PCR or antigen tests, compared with 1,154 the prior week. Positivity rates sat at a stable 18.9%. The incidence rate, however, took a nice downturn, going from 235 down to 207.

In the Alpes-Maritimes, there were 294 new cases last week, significantly down from 419 the week before and bringing the incidence rate down from 397 to a more comforting 285.

The positivity rate for those tested is also down, albeit very slightly, from 20.2% to 19.3%.

Hospitalisations in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur department show 67 patients in intensive care, with a 15% occupancy rate dedicated to people with Covid.

The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants are still the dominant, with 92% of those testing positive having that form, versus 8% showing the earlier BA1 or BA2 versions.  




Photo by Monaco Life





Five more years of Caio

AS Monaco left-back Caio Henrique signed a contract renewal at the club on Friday, keeping him in the Principality until 2027.

Prior to the renewal, Henrique’s old contract was set to run out in the summer of 2025. Monaco have now secured the future of another first-team regular, following the extension of right-back Ruben Aguilar’s contract.

Henrique arrived at Monaco in an €8m deal from Atletico Madrid back in 2020 and has since gone on to make 87 appearances for the club, scoring twice and registering an impressive 18 assists. Although a defender, he is also a major source of creativity for the Principality side, a fact recognised by Philippe Clement, who utilised the player in the number 10 role when he first arrived.

Speaking in a press release, Henrique said, “Extending my spell at AS Monaco and continuing my career with the Club is a great joy for me. Since my arrival, I have had the opportunity to show myself and develop my quality. I am happy to be able to continue to do so, and to sign for the long term with AS Monaco, playing with this magnificent squad, at a club which is full of ambition.”

Sporting director Paul Mitchell added, “Since his arrival at the Club, Caio has displayed an exemplary state of mind. His mentality and his qualities as a player have made him an important player in our squad. His work has enabled him to progress on a daily basis and raise his profile. We are delighted that he is with AS Monaco for the long term!”

Matazo set to stay

Another player set to remain at the club is young Eliot Matazo. Monaco signed Mohamed Camara from Red Bull Salzburg on Sunday, and although the Mail international plays in the same position, there is reportedly no desire to allow him to leave on loan.

According to L’Équipe, Monaco won’t sign another central midfielder in order to not block the progression of other young midfielders and in order to afford them more playing time. As well as Matazo, Soungoutou Magassa and Félix Lemarechal have also impressed playing in the midfield pivot, and given the centrality of youth integration in the Monaco project, the club will not pursue further midfield reinforcements. That rules out any move for Leicester’s Boubakary Soumaré.

L’Equipe report that Matazo is set to feature again on Saturday against Lens and is not expected to depart in the final two weeks of the transfer window, despite interest from Freiburg, Bayern Leverkusen and Club Bruges.




Photo source: AS Monaco






Spider-Man caught in the web – the perils of digital addiction

This week, the popular British actor Tom Holland announced he is taking a break from social media for the sake of his mental health. The Spider-Man actor described Instagram and Twitter as overstimulating and overwhelming. 

As a psychotherapist, I have witnessed first-hand the link between social media and poor mental health.  The smartphone has been appropriately described as the modern day hypodermic needle delivering digital dopamine 24-seven for an online generation.

Digital addiction is real.  A study in the United States found that excessive social media use makes us three times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than people who use it occasionally. A Lancet study in 2018 demonstrated that people who check social media late at night are more likely to feel anxious and unhappy.

I hosted a seminar recently and began by asking this question.  “Imagine your child is sat at the dinner table and pulls out cocaine from their pocket? How do you react? Is your reaction any different if, instead of cocaine, they pull out a smartphone?” Maybe it shouldn’t be.

The potential impact of cocaine and technology are the same.  Like all addicts, those with a dependency on social media not only isolate themselves from their circle of friends but they gradually lose interest in everyday activities which they once found enjoyable. Like cocaine misuse, over consumption of social media can lead to lower self-esteem, impact our attitudes and thoughts, and lead to poor decision making.

In one research study, young people were offered an opportunity to bid a sum of money to deactivate their Facebook account for one year.  While several young people made their high bids, others were not prepared to deactivate their account for any sum of money.

Our brains were not designed for today’s world.  As humans, we love dopamine. It is often referred to as the pleasure chemical naturally produced by the brain. Dopamine reinforces pleasurable feelings by associating pleasure with certain behaviours. Food feels good so I want more. Sex feels good so I want more. And so forth. We remember and repeat what makes us feel good.

Today’s world promises endless supplies of dopamine and we don’t need to do much or go far from the couch to get it.  But too much dopamine leads to anxiety, sleep deprivation, and stress. Our brains give up producing dopamine naturally and wait for the external stimuli. So, without our social media dopamine hit, we can feel numb, anxious and alone. Crucially in addiction terms, we develop cravings and compulsive behaviours in the dopamine pursuit.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with social media per se or pretty much most of the stuff we enjoy doing. For most of us, social media is a healthy way to connect with others. It’s about our relationship with a behaviour or substance that matters. So, if we are obsessively counting the number of likes and/or comparing ourselves to others, fearing that we are missing out on the next big Monaco event, the chances are that our relationship with technology has gone awry.

So, what can we do if we were worried about our use of social media? Short-term measures such as turning off the annoying media sound alerts, reducing notifications, restricting the type of posts that show up on our social media as well as tracking our time on social media can all help.

Social media is also not our friend if we are using it to fight boredom or loneliness. If we want connection, why don’t we do what the old folks used to do and pick up the phone or even go to Larvotto beach and meet a friend for a cup of coffee and a conversation?

Approximately four billion people worldwide are using networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you’re overindulging in dopamine producing behaviours, you probably need to take more intentional short or medium-term breaks, which presumably is what Tom Holland is doing.

Spider-Man. You are not alone. 


Gavin Sharpe is a UK qualified psychotherapist, relationship / psychosexual therapist and executive coach. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and not necessarily those of Monaco Life. Gavin Sharpe can be reached at



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