Australia ravaged by bushfires

Photo: Dan Peled

“Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing,” announced Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. “The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path.” The Australian fires are not just a typical neighborhood fire. These widespread bushfires pose a huge threat to everyone and everything in Australia, from the people and wildlife to the buildings and structures. Eastern Australia, especially the states of New South Wales and Queensland, have been hosting several huge fires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed several people.

The bushfires taking over Australia have been caused by severe drought, high temperatures, and deforestation. Melbourne has reached record temperatures such as 105 fahrenheit. Fire risk has increased from climate change, as it makes the land more flammable and prone to huge fires such as these. Australia has been lacking rainwater and increasing in temperature, creating the perfect recipe for disastrous fires. 

One of the biggest victims of the fires are Australia’s koala population. Fires have torn through koala habitats and reserves, reducing hundreds of koalas to nothing but ashes, making it hard to create an accurate body count. Several more koalas have been treated for severe burns. It is estimated at least 1,000 koalas have fallen victim to the flames, and about 80% of their population has been destroyed. Even for koalas that survive, the majority of their food has been dried up in the fires, so they are unable to get all of their nutrients.

Sydney, the most populated city of Australia, is not safe either. Citizens of the city are advised to limit air exposure and time outside, as the air is not safe to breathe, especially for young children, the elderly, and the ill. The smoke in Sydney has aggravated asthma and increased risk for other illnesses.

Australians have many reasons to be worried. It is currently only spring in Australia, and peak fire season is normally in the summertime. Many believe conditions will worsen as summer begins in the next few months. It is also likely the fires will continue to spread west, affecting the entire continent eventually. Firefighters are starting to believe the fires may grow to an unstoppable point. 

I had the chance to talk to Alice Jackson, a 16 year old that lives in Canberra, Australia. I asked about how she has been affected by these fires. She responded, “Well, it’s kind of odd to be honest. You wake up one day and you can see for miles, but the next day you can barely see a few blocks away because the smoke drifting in from the Sydney fires is so thick”. 

Alice’s phone notifies her where fires have spread in her area.

Canberra is only about 180 miles from Sydney, so the people of Canberra have also been affected by the smoke. She continued by saying, “There’s this app you can get which traces all the bushfires, and if there’s one near you it’ll alert you and that’s pretty scary. Each alert you get, that fire could grow into a raging bushfire and destroy everything you own … at any minute you could be told to evacuate because a fire is coming. It’s that fear of what do you take and what do you leave behind to possibly burn. Then it’s worrying about what if it’s too late and you’re stuck in your home to brave out the fires”. 

She also sent an image to display how the app looks. Her location is represented by a small blue dot in Canberra, surrounded by warnings for potential fires and ongoing fires that spread hundreds of miles from the cities of Melbourne to Brisbane.

These fires are a real threat to the lives of millions of people in Eastern Australia, the wildlife that resides there, and many other landmarks, both manmade and natural. The Earth is being burnt alive, not just in Australia, but also in the Western USA, the Amazon, and all over the world. Generally, wildfires are much bigger, dangerous, and consistent now than they were decades ago. Wildfires are a real problem that can consume the entire globe if more action isn’t taken. 

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