In recent weeks, Australia has been experiencing unprecedented bush fires.
Usually reserved for later in the year, as the Australian summer takes hold, fires have been tearing across the bush, threatening residential areas and stirring debates on global warming.
Australia is no stranger to bushfires, with events such as the 2009 Black Saturday bushfire marring history with 173 deaths. However, with higher than usual temperature forecasts and little rainfall predicted, scientists are warning that this could be Australia’s worst year yet.
A 2013 report by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), determined that global warming would result in more extreme temperatures and longer fire seasons for the country.
As New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Services Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, has pointed out, there is little hope for the situation to improve in the next few weeks. He said: “We’ve really got a long way to go. You can guarantee we’re not going to be able to get around all of these fires before the next wave of bad weather.
“Unfortunately, there’s no meaningful reprieve. There’s no rainfall in this change and we’re going to continue to have warm dry conditions dominating in the days and weeks ahead.”
In Queensland alone, there have been 80 active fires reported, with people being encouraged to leave the area as soon as possible.
Similarly, NSW has be home to 76 active fires as of last reports. The Sydney area incurred its first ever ‘catastrophic’ level warning. Though it is worth noting that the threat level in NSW (home to roughly six million people) has since been downgraded from catastrophic.
Preventative measures are being taken, with firefighting planes covering residential areas with fire retardant.
There is a consensus amongst large portions of the scientific community that Australia’s troubles are worsened as a result of climate change. Only last year, Australia experienced the hottest summer recorded in its history.
Despite this, Australia found itself amongst the named and shamed in the 2018 emissions gap report produced by the UN. Alongside Canada and the EU, Australia was accused of having “[Greenhouse gas] emissions trajectories [that] fall short of achieving their unconditional [Nationally Determined Contributions].”
Worryingly, Australia’s fight to tackle climate change may be further impinged by the politicians that hold office.
Australia’s deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, said in a recent interview that any links being made between the fires and climate change was scaremongering made by “pure, enlightened and woke capital-city greenies.”
He insisted that the fires were to be expected, admitting that while they were “a tad early,” Australia had been experiencing them “since time began.”
As for the protestors in Melbourne seeking to raise awareness about climate change, McCormack described them as “inner-city raving lunatics,” who were getting “way too much publicity; they crave for that, they yearn for that.”
It seems that whilst some measures are being taken by the Australian government, there is still much to be done.