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Important lessons to take away from the Australia wildfires

Important lessons to take away from the Australia wildfires

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Wildfires are ravaging Australia and it seems as though the worst is still yet to come. The total area currently burned is larger than Switzerland and the sky has adopted a flaming red colour all the way to New Zealand. At least 25 people have died in the disaster, as have thousands of animals. In the midst of this tragedy, we analyse the key takeaways.

This event has become the iconic representation of global warming

Similar to California, Australia is naturally primed to burn. However, global warming has worsened the situation by ten-fold. Average highs in Australia hit 107 degrees Fahrenheit in December, following the driest spring in the country’s history. The important question is, how much worse is this going to get? If this is what global warming of over 1 degree Celsius looks like, then the impacts of 3 degrees or more are bound to be catastrophic and that is the unfortunate trajectory we’re on.

The people in power are unwilling to respond

There has been immense criticism towards Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his response, or lack thereof, to the disaster. In fact, many have gone as far as to directly blame him for the outbreak of the fires even dubbing them the ‘Morrison Fires’. This stems from the Prime Minister’s history of ignoring issues related to climate change; he has provided hostile responses to calls for climate action and has vowed to outlaw environmental protests. Moreover, Australia was ranked last out of 57 countries on climate change policy by the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index, which singled out Mr. Morrison as a ‘regressive force’. He has further drawn criticism for leaving for a vacation to Hawaii during the season of the wildfires.

The only solution to this is global action

Although the Australian Prime Minister certainly holds some of the blame for this disaster, nothing the country could have done alone would have prevented the situation. Australia itself only accounts for 1.3 per cent of total global emissions. All of the largest and richest economies such as the United States and many European countries must share the blame for the continuing rise in average temperatures. Even some of the developing economies such as China and India could make efforts to reduce their emissions without abandoning their efforts to increase the standard of living.

A major change is needed from all fronts

According to David Bowman, a professor of fire science at the University of Tasmania, reducing carbon emissions isn’t enough anymore. He argues that we now need to also adapt to the changing circumstances in order to prevent the outbreak of more devastation. In the case of Australia, he suggests that families could shift the traditional vacation season (which typically takes place in the summer) to cooler months to prevent families heading to the country’s forests and national parks during fire season. This will reduce the strain on firefighters and make evacuations easier.

How people are helping

Over a million people have donated a total of $20 million to a Facebook fund-raising page started by the Australian comedian Celeste Barber with the money being distributed to the country’s firefighting services. Perhaps the most notable donation thus far has been from an Instagram model named Kaylen Ward, who goes by the alias ‘Naked Philanthropist’. She has claimed that she’s raised $500,000 by direct messaging her nude photos to followers in exchange for proof of a charitable donation. Instagram has shut down her account but she is still active on Twitter.

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