While our attention has been diverted to the escalating tensions between Iran-US and the likely ramifications, there is total chaos in Australia as record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought have fueled massive bushfires across the country.
The figures have been staggering. More than 15.6 million acres of land – almost twice the size of entire Belgium – have been burnt. Around 24 people have been killed while a shocking 500 million animals and reptiles are reportedly died. This includes around 8000 koalas, an endangered species that eats the flammable eucalyptus tree. Many rare species might have been wiped out forever.
The worst thing is that summer has just begun and the fires have intensified over the last week. There are still 1300 active fires burning across the worst-hit state of New South Wales. Australia’s capital, Canberra, was hit with the worst air quality in the world as the entire city is being engulfed in smoke. Even their famous parliament house was shrouded in smoke leading to mass evacuations.
Blood-skies could be seen as far as New Zealand as fire-induced thunderstorms have formed threatening glaciers and other mountainous regions. In the state of Victoria, a fire blaze is even bigger than the size of New York. Temperatures near the largest city have reached an extreme 48.9 degrees.
Thankfully the world is not oblivious to the bushfire crisis. The outbreak has been mentioned multiple times during the Golden Globe awards by Australian actress Cate Blanchett as well as Brish actor Pierce Brosnan and American host Ellen DeGeneres. The foreign media has ripped harshly into Australia’s response saying that the cause behind the crisis is partly to its own actions.
Australia is at risk from the dangers of climate change more than any other developed nation. There have been severe droughts for much of the century, but despite the ecological disasters, climate change has not been a priority for the Australian government. There are economic reasons for this as Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of coal and has avoided a recession for the last two decades by selling fossil fuels.
There is an acknowledged link between climate change and the bushfire crisis, and now Australia finds itself caught up in its own climate spiral. Australia today has become the ground zero of a climate catastrophe. The apathy of the world towards making any climate change policy is another lost opportunity. There must be concrete action before the nation collapses to a climate crisis.