Nature works in mysterious ways, and bushfires are seen as nature’s version of rebirth. Therefore, they are necessary for our ecosystem. These fires make room for new vegetation to grow, but what happens when the fires are uncontrollable and start to affect the land beyond their purpose?
The Australian bushfires are a perfect example of an uncontrollable catastrophe. Whether introduced naturally or by man, these fires are nothing like nature has seen before. This blaze has claimed over 30 lives, destroyed over 3,000 homes and burnt over 25 million acres of land across the country. Although Australia has seen some relief, Victoria and New South Wales are still under severe conditions, the latter being the most affected area.
On January 9th, American firefighters received a hero’s praise as they landed in Sydney to help put out the fires. Australians saw the aide as a sign of hope and relief. The mission was to water bomb affected areas with the capability of releasing around 4,000 gallons of water and fire retardant, which was a complicated task to tackle. Two American firefighters died on Jan. 23, in a plane crash while in action. Their bodies were sent home to their families today Feb. 5th
With some foreign aid at a standstill and resources running thin, Australia is suffering tremendously as relentless burning continuous to stunt the growth of trees and new vegetation damaging the ecosystem for years to come. This regeneration is vital for a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions, and it is also the lifeline for animals who have managed to survive the fires.
A staggering estimated 1 billion animals have died, and that number only continues to increase by the day. This is of significant concern for Australia because the country is home to almost all of the world’s marsupials (kangaroos, koalas, wallabies) and without the right environment; these animals will continue to suffer and could ultimately be at the brink of extinction.
These consequences are not just the country’s own, pollution and wildlife destruction are making significant impacts on climate change. NPR reports that 400 million tons of carbon have been released into the atmosphere so far. As a result, Australia’s capital, Canberra, is now rated 3rd worst in air quality around the globe, according to AirVisual.
Continuous studies are being done on what causes natural disasters of this magnitude. However, one contributing factor to these bushfires seen in consequence of climate change is the strongest recorded Positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD,) which is similar to the El Niño effect here in North and South America. Colder oceans provide less rain-bearing conditions, in other words, without rain, drought and high temperatures have encouraged bushfires all over the country. By the end of December 2019, every state had reached at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit at some point.
Although some rain and cooler weather during the winter have helped control the fires in many areas, New South Wales and Victoria are still enduring over 60 fires, most uncontrollable. For now, meteorologists and the Australian government are warning citizens to be cautious and wary of weather conditions and fire risks. In the meantime, the Australian government continues to work tirelessly to resolve this situation hoping this will come to an end soon.
By Martha Mora