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Australia burns as catastrophic climate crisis intensifies

Tuesday 7th January 2020 | Jake

Australia is in the throes of the most intense wildfires ever to have hit the country, as smoke and flame engulf an immense amount of land. Around 6.3 million hectares of bush, forest and parks have been burned. The bushfires come after the country endured a severe drought, as well as record-breaking temperatures.

So far authorities in the affected areas have reported 24 deaths, including three volunteer firefighters. The regions of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) are most at risk from the fire, with authorities in Victoria estimating 3.5% of the state’s landmass had so far been affected by the fires.

 

Widlfires in Australia. Video from Sky News

Meanwhile in NSW, an estimated 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles are likely to have died because of the fires. Smoke has turned day to night across major cities in the south and along Australia’s east coast, while winds have carried the ash from the fires all the way to New Zealand, where the sky has been turned a gloomy shade of sandy orange on occasion.

Australia’s press has come into fierce criticism, with the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian observed as attempting to downplay the significance of the bushfires. The extreme conditions are generally considered by scientists as a direct result of the ensuing climate crisis, but Australia’s conservative leaders have remained in denial.

Former prime minister of Australia Kevin Rudd has labelled the government’s response to the fires “evasive, tepid, tone-deaf and above all, too late”, while the Associated Press has reported on the intense criticism incumbent prime minister Tony Morrison has faced for going on a family vacation in Hawaii amidst the wildfire crisis. Proof of Morrison’s unpopularity was evidenced by a recent visit he took to Cobargo in NSW. Locals refused to shake his hand, with people in the background voicing their disapproval of their prime minister vociferously.

PM Tony Morrison is heckled. Video courtesy of Nine News Australia

Let down by a lack of cohesive, effective leadership form above on the disaster, Australian fire services have been inundated with donations. Tens of millions of Australian dollars have so far been donated by members of the public to the comedian Celeste Barber’s fundraising campaign alone, with proceeds distributed among several states’ services.

On Monday Reuters reported Morrison’s government set up the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, funding it to the tune of Two billion Australian dollars. It’s unclear what impact the agency will have on rescue efforts, but it’s unlikely to save Morrison from losing his position. The Australian people will hope for a leader on the issue of climate change, as the devastation it wreaks intensifies.

Make a donation to help the wildlife affected by the Australian Bushfires here

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