Koalas Not Coal—Bushfire season leaves Australians fired up about climate change
Ever since this past October, Australia’s bushlands continue to resemble scenes from the Book of Exodus. However, instead of raining locusts and pitch-black darkness, Australians have dealt with an onslaught of devastating fires, flash floods, hail, and dust storms. To date, at least 33 people, around 2,000 homes, and over one billion animals have been swept away by the fires. Nearly 30,000 square miles of land are now gone as the whole continent is left wondering when the unrelenting plagues will finally cease. As the apocalypse in Australia rages on, the continent turns towards its administrators and office-holders to figure out not only how Australia will recover from the wreckage of the bushfire season but also how it will effect longer lasting change through climate policy.
While the bush of Australia is no stranger to heat—fire season has been the bane of its existence for millions of years—this year’s bushfire conditions have been especially brutal. Currently experiencing one of its worst droughts in decades, Australia faced its driest spring on record, accompanied by a heatwave that sent temperatures up to as high as 120°F. According to experts, climate change exacerbates fire season’s effects on the bush. Due to extreme weather conditions, the onset of bushfires came earlier than normally anticipated and persisted with a greater ferocity. Due to the links between the bushfires and climate change, scores of Australians and outside observers took to their pens and papers to draft letters and appeals to the Australian leadership in order to emphasize the need for climate control policies. Recently, a group of over 200 scientists drafted an appeal to parliamentarians calling them to work towards diplomatic solutions to scale back Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions and successfully coordinate climate action. Unfortunately, scientists’ claims that climate change would eventually aggravate the bush’s fire risk went ignored for decades.
Only time will tell whether or not the Australian government will heed the warnings on climate change. For now, the main priority for many citizens is how to quell the raging fires and begin the recovery process. While bushfires continue to persist in various regions of the continent, some areas are now already beginning life post-fire season. For example, recent images from Shark Bay Iluka in New South Wales demonstrate that myriads of plants and shrubs are returning to some state of normalcy amidst the new calm. However, as farmers and wildlife recovery workers alike work to regroup in areas still devastated by incessant bushfires, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that 2 billion Australian dollars will be allocated towards efforts to offset the costs and damages incurred during the fire season. So far, the government has elected to spend the large sum on primary producers, mental health initiatives, charities, financial counseling, emergency funding, and other proposed solutions. While these financial initiatives are critical for Australia to bounce back from the immediate effects of the fires, thousands of Australians yearn for more than just monetary Band-Aids to stick on the climate’s life-threatening shotgun wound. As various protests have been conducted across the continent by scores of citizens fed up by the government’s hesitance to enact climate control policy, PM Scott Morrison is sure to feel the heat from an outraged populace.