As the bushfires crisis in Australia continues on without weakening, the smoke it has been creating is believed to cover a greater area than the whole of Europe, with its neighbour New Zealand getting soot in their land from the fires.
So far, there has been a death toll of at least 19 humans and almost 500,000,000 animals due to these fires. Experts believe that a much larger humanitarian crisis is looming over the country with no one else to blame but the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Last week, experts states that 2.1 million square miles (5.5 million sq km) of smoke has started to make its way towards New Zealand by drifting over the Pacific Ocean. BBC reported that Australia has been blanketed by smoke and haze in the last few days. The Guardian has also reported that vacationers in New Zealand have described the skies over there as “orange” and “apocalyptic.” This smoke and soot has even stained the neighbouring country’s iconic white glaciers, turning them black and “caramelizing” the snow which could further endanger these glaciers even more. Snow that gets blackened by ash and dust tend to melt at a faster rate than usual.
A fellow research scientist over at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Antti Lipponen tweeted that the smoke plume has reached a size over four times bigger than Alaska, 14 times bigger than Japan, and about the same distance between Turkey and Iceland.
This massive environmental calamity has been aided by a combination of record-shattering heat waves, extreme winds, with the country’s forests, grasslands and brush in drought. According to Victoria’s Bureau of Meteorology, Australia’s bushfires have not stopped worsening in the recent years that they have generated their own weather through thunderstorms that further enhance the fires.
Local weather forecasts predict that these hot temperatures and fierce winds across southern Australia will continue through the weekend. Thousands of fire fighters and volunteers have been trying to kill over 100 fires in NSW alone, with around 40 more in Victoria.
This climate crisis made 4,000 people in Mallacoota, Victoria run into the shore and water as the enormous blaze threatened to destroy all their homes.
Tourist Kai Kirschbaum told ABC Australia in an interview:
“I think that was our biggest threat in terms of what are we doing with the children if we need to go in the water to protect ourselves given the fact that they are only 1, 3 and 5.
If you’re a good swimmer it doesn’t really matter if you have to be in the water for a longer time, but doing that with three kids that would have been, I think, a nightmare.”
As nearly 500 million animals have died, including 8,000 koalas, and over 300 baby flying foxes abandoned by their mothers trying to survive, ecologists fear an unbearable tragedy for the wildlife. This massive loss is a threat to all species and plants in the country.
“Mothers are abandoning babies at two weeks after birth because there is no food for them. Last week we had 300 come in, and we’ve been flat out feeding since then. I’ve never seen anything like this before—we’re calling it a starvation event,” says wildlife rescuer Jenny Packwood to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Koala Crisis posted on their Facebook page:
Not one carer KC has spoken to has seen bees, insects, grubs, worms, snails, beetles, millipedes, for months. Nothing struggles through the dustbowls which are now covering millions of hectares in all states. There’s no grass for the ’roos, no insects for the birds, the leaves on eucalypts are brittle, ensuring starvation for koalas, gliders, possums, birds, insects.”
These Australian bushfires started in September, wasting away the wildlife and private properties alike, although this is the worst fire of the season while they are still 3 months away from the summer season ending. A prolonged drought has attacked the country at the same time, leaving farmers livelihoods and local economies in devastation.
The local government, lead by Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of accepting the reality of climate change, despite his verbal acknowledgement that the changing climate conditions have helped worsen the crisis. They have also been accused of obstructing global summits on climate change and avoiding their obligations in the 2017 Paris accord, being the world’s biggest exporter of coal and natural gas.
The citizens’ anger towards their prime minister is abundantly clear with the Guardian quoting the residents cursing at Morrison calling him “an idiot,” saying he’s “not welcome,” and he should “piss off” and not expect them to vote him in again.
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