The Great Australian Bushfires

Ian Watson, Staff Writer

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The Australian fire season is already one of the harshest and most destructive series of fires in recorded history. At least 2,000 homes have been destroyed, at least 28 people have been killed, and an estimated 1,000 million animals have been killed. With 24 million acres being burned, the fires are over 12 times larger than the California wildfires in 2017. The response has been mixed: volunteer firefighters, who have been working more than 12-hour shifts, are bravely fighting the blazes and attempting to control the spread of the fires. However, the response from the Australian government has been less than stellar.  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been widely criticized for taking a vacation to Hawaii while firefighters have died. Additionally, the friendliness of the Australian government with the coal industry has sparked protests from Australians who feel that it conflicts with their interests as humans. As many of Morrison’s recent predecessors did not finish their term in office before losing a footing in their party. Morrison has refused to act to address the nation’s emissions beyond goals already set by the Paris Accords 

The climate crisis has worsened fires, lengthened the fire season, and reduced supplies of water to fight the blazes. The multi-year drought, although somewhat alleviated by recent rains, is one of the most personal and impactful faces of climate change shown today. A group of former fire chiefs have seen the impact firsthand and call the Australian government to act further.  

Australia’s fire crisis is a microcosm of the world to come: longer fires, harsher weather, and a warming planet. Events in one region affect the entire world. The smoke from the fires has already circled all the way back to Australia, covering the planet in pollutants and toxins. The warming climate worsens manmade and natural disasters alike, leading to the loss of animal species, natural wonders, and human lives. Australia’s fires are a warning to the world of the dangers of a hotter planet.