There have been record-breaking forest fires in Australia. Some unfortunate highlights from these fires include:
- 5.5 million hectares of arable land got charred to ashes
- More than 6000 homes destroyed
- At least 17 human deaths
- 480 wildlife casualties, including 30% of New South Wales’ koalas
How did these fires spread on such a massive scale?
These forest fires in Australia were a culmination of climate change and government mismanagement.
Combination of extreme heat, prolonged droughts, and strong winds together fueled the deadly fires throughout the nation. While bushfires in Australia are a natural part of the country’s ecosystem, these fires vary across regions.
Why is this fire season so awful?
Unfortunately, 2019 was the hottest and driest year in Australia, with parts of country reaching around 45 degree Celsius. Together, these conditions were acted as a perfect catalyst for the start and swift spread of bushfires in the continent. One of the other most influential large-scale climate drivers of country’s weather is the Indian Ocean Dipole, or the IOD. The IOD is a high temperature gradient that affects the surface water of Indian Ocean, from the edge of Africa to the edge of Australia.
This IOD has three phases – Positive, Negative and Neutral
- When the IOD is neutral, the surface water of Indian Ocean is evenly warm
- When the IOD is Negative, winds come in from east and shift the warm water towards Australia. Warmer water means more evaporation which means more rain
- When the IOD is positive, winds come in from west and shift the warm water towards Africa. This causes floods in Africa and droughts in Australia
These continents today are facing a positive IOD. Because of which, there are forest fires in Australia and Africa is facing its worst flooding in last two decades.
Government Mismanagement responsible for forest fires in Australia–
Australia is one of the biggest coal exporters in the world today. Recently, the country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison approved the offer of the Adani group of setting up a coal mining industry – Carmichael Mines, naturally with the thought process that it will help the economy flourish.
However, the Prime minister may have ignored a very important facet. When the world is moving away from the coal-based technologies, he, the Prime Minister approving deals from other country was seen as a villain. So, while the main reason of Australian fires was drought, in the last 3 months, there were continuous heat-waves throughout the country. Because of these waves, chances of forest fires were very high.
Since the Adani Mining industry was to be set up near Great Barrier Reef, it will have high ecological impact on one of the last few reefs in the world, which is unacceptable. This will eventually that will lead to increase in greenhouse gases, leading to increased global warming and higher climate change problems. It will also intensify heat waves and thus will continue or grow the bush-fires.
Because of this, many people are protesting against the entry of the Adani coal industry. PM Scott Morrison has had to cut short his visit to one fire-hit town after being heckled by angry residents. Restless citizens, dying animals, and burning forests is what Australia currently facing.
While there are efforts being taken by well-known celebrities to curb the fire, it seems all these efforts are minuscule in nature and the fires may take their time to ware off, all we could learn of this is that nature while enduring is also vulnerable and so are we if we mess with it. We must learn to co-exist, while economic growth is important, it can be achieved over time with other ways, unlike ecological growth. Countries must implement the right of the strategies to prevent such a disaster so as to ensure the mankind does not cease to exist.