By: Umme Kulsum
August 14 2023
Kuwait tire fires don't alone account for climate change. Reducing the use of greenhouse gases is important as they directly impact the environment.
A video of burning tires in Kuwait is widely circulating on social media, with multiple narratives specifically downplaying the importance of reducing greenhouse gases to combat climate change.
A TikTok user shared the viral video on July 28, 2023, with overlaid text that reads, “Can we see Kuwait again? Cow farts are the problem, Not burning tires like that, Not 42 million tires burning in the desert.” An X post carrying the same viral video was captioned, “Look at this apocalyptic burn of 42 million tires in Kuwait, spewing toxic, carcinogenic chemicals of benzene, xylene, ethylene, and acetone into the atmosphere. It could be seen on satellites from space. NO ‘climate’ activists!” The post had received over 1 million views and had been shared over 9,000 times at the time of writing this story.
However, the video is from 2021. The fire started during an arson incident and was extinguished within seven hours.
According to a report by France 24, a fire broke out on April 29, 2021, at a tire graveyard in Salmi, in the Jahra governorate, Kuwait. The graveyard was far away from the main city in Kuwait. The report added that the millions of tires at the graveyard will be buried in the landfill, and many tires from the site will be recycled. According to a local report by the Kuwait newspaper Alanba, the authorities confirmed that the fire was an act of arson and that it was extinguished within seven hours of the incident.
Tire fires, intentional or accidental, can have significant environmental and climate impacts due to releasing harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases. Although pollutants released by tire fires can have adverse effects, the exact extent of the climate impact from a tire fire would depend on various factors, including the scale of the fire, the number of tires burned, and how well the fire was managed and extinguished.
The tire fire in Kuwait, which was extinguished within hours of the incident, will not singularly contribute to climate change or the planet's overall warming.
Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University in the City of New York, David John Helfand called the claim “ludicrous,” telling Logically Facts, "If it is that burning these tires contributes to (or causes) global warming, that's ludicrous. The total energy in completely burning 42 million tires is less than the amount of energy the Earth receives from the sun in one-tenth of a second. The excess greenhouse gases we have added to the atmosphere trap this much energy in 10 seconds. So if they burned this many tires every year, the effect would be 0.00002% as much warming as greenhouse gases induce."
Gas emissions from livestock, which the post refers to as "cow farts" are a large contributor to climate change. Cows and other ruminant animals have a specialized digestive system that produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as a byproduct of their digestion process. According to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), methane released by livestock accounts for roughly 32 percent of human-caused methane emissions.
The video of tire fires, an incident that occurred in Kuwait In 2021, has been used to diminish the significance of reducing greenhouse gases to combat climate change. Greenhouse gases play a significant role in contributing to global warming. Reducing greenhouse gases is crucial to mitigate the effects of climate change. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading.