Wildfires are a natural occurrence that have been around for centuries. Factors such as drought or lightning strikes can cause fires, especially in the summer heat. However, the intensity and scale of the recent bushfires in Australia are far from normal, making experts believe that climate change has played a key role in causing this. The fires started in October and so far, (as of January 3rd) 13.5 million acres have burnt, killing at least 17 people and over 480 million animals.
A combination of extreme heat, strong winds and prolonged drought are the main contribution to the start of the bushfires, but with Australia in mid-summer, this is not likely to get better any time soon. Due to the increasing effects of climate change, Australia amongst many other countries is experiencing record breaking temperatures, with the national average for the hottest day in 2019 being 41.9 degrees Celsius.
The Spring of 2019 was the driest that Australia has seen since records began 120 years ago
The global increasing temperatures have been linked to the increasing emissions of greenhouse gases and other human activities.The Spring of 2019 was the driest that Australia has seen since records began 120 years ago. This has dried out the grasses and shrubs so much that they can easily catch fire in the extreme temperatures. The spread of fires is magnified by the strong winds which can fan the flames to increase the fire as well as push smoke over the whole country. This makes the air so polluted that breathing the air in Sydney is currently equivalent to smoking 37 cigarettes.
Thousands of volunteers have been working hard to evacuate people, rescue animals and try to tackle the fires. Countries such as Canada and New Zealand have sent resources such as firefighters to try to help combat this. Also, numerous charities have been working hard to evacuate and save as many people and animals as possible. But with the fires likely to last until March, the beginning of Australian autumn, it is projected that the situation will only get worse before it gets better.
Thousands of volunteers have been working hard to evacuate people, rescue animals and try to tackle the fires
Many residents are furious with the conservative prime minister Scott Morrison as he is dismissing climate change as “irrelevant” and insisting that bushfires are nothing new. Furthermore, he was shamed for taking a family holiday in December, at the peak of the fires. As evacuations continue, Scott Morrison is visiting several towns in hopes of providing support. However, some residents and firemen continue to show their anger by refusing to shake his hand and demanding to know why more funding isn’t being put in place for the Rural Fire Service.
This ongoing catastrophe has caused many people to rethink climate change on a global scale. Although the link between human activities and fires is not direct, it is evident that the fires are largely as a result of the human actions which are contributing to the global climate crisis.