The Effect of Australia’s Fires

The Australia fires are posing a threat to the survival of all living things within the country

via Needpix.com

The Australia fires are posing a threat to the survival of all living things within the country

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Similar to California, Australia faces naturally occurring fires. Global warming has turned vegetation into firewood, which has resulted in these infernos to become increasingly common. As of now, Australia is facing a multitude of fires.

Since the beginning of January, more than 15.6 million acres have been burned. This is 3.2 million more acres than the Amazon rainforest fires last year and 80 times the total area of land burned in the California wildfires. 

Brush fires are common in Australia in certain parts of the year. They are usually caused by lightning strikes and other natural sources. However, the changing climate is a reason why these blazes are so intense. With the extreme heat, prolonged drought, and strong winds, Australia’s fires have reached an unprecedented amount of damage this fire season. Over the last 3 months, Australia has faced a heatwave with a record-breaking 107.4 degrees Fahrenheit (or 40.9 degrees Celsius).

There are at least 25 casualties, 1,400 residences have been destroyed, as well as an estimated one billion animals have perished because of these fires. The death of these animals was caused either by burning in the fires or through the destruction of their habitat. Initially, the estimate was that 480 million animals died. However, this accounted for animals in the state of NSW (New South Wales) only. Since then, the fires have spread to Victoria. Another reason is that the estimate included birds, mammals, and reptiles but not bats, frogs, and insects.

The koala population in NSW has been reduced by about 30 percent. Unlike animals such as kangaroos and most birds, animals that are more dependent on the forest or are less mobile can’t escape the fires. This resulted in an estimate of 8,000 koala deaths.

On January 10th, thousands of people participated in marches occurring in several major cities in Australia to voice their discontent with the way the government is dealing with the fires. With protests taking place in cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide, this marked the first major national demonstration since the start of the fire season in late July. 

A national student organization called Uni Students for Climate Justice organized these protests. In Sydney alone, it was estimated that more than 30,000 people attended the march. They protested funding for firefighters, aid for afflicted areas, land and water sovereignty for indigenous populations, as well as to use renewable energy. 

Many signs included anger against coal and the system which refer to Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison who has faced criticism for the lack of response to the fires, his climate policies, and his support for coal mines. Australia is the largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas in the world which plays a key role in the country’s greenhouse gas pollution. So far, Morrison has ignored urges to downsize Australia’s coal industry.

Unfortunately, the fires are expected to burn for another month. Multiple charities are open to accepting donations to aid animals and people involved in the fire. Hopefully, efforts are successful so a crisis of this severity won’t occur again.