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We didn’t start the fire…

Amelia Strazdins

The days are getting longer, summer is getting closer by the minute and the temperatures are rising - perhaps a little too high. Summer season in Australia has always been hot, humid and as a country we are not strangers to bushfires. However, in recent years the combination of increasingly rising temperatures alongside more frequent and extreme natural disasters has created a growing threat. For some, the devastation and damage caused by the 2020 bushfires still remains a very real and painful part of their lives. The fires that burned across the country at the start of 2020 were on an extreme level that many Australians had not witnessed before. Many Australians and the rest of the world, watched scenes that could only be described as dystopian. However, as climate change worsens and temperature rise, these dystopian scenes may become common place if increased climate action is not taken.

This year, the threat of bushfires remains more prevalent than ever with reports that Australia is set to experience an El Niño summer, meaning a significantly reduced chance of rain and as a result drier environments. Hotter spring weather has already resulted in bushfires in both Victoria and New South Wales. What is causing more frequent, more extreme natural disasters such as these? Climate change. A prominent contributing factor to the extremity of these fires can be linked to a rising global temperature and the impact this has on weather phenomena. Changing climates and temperatures have impacted the frequency and seriousness of natural disasters, not only in Australia but globally. From the fires in California to wildfires that spread across Greece, the impact of the altered environment is continuing to take extreme tolls on all areas of our ecology. Not only are we, as humans impacted, but animal habitats alongside flora and fauna are impacted by these fires, with some endangered species not able to recover.

In the short term, in preparation, there is much that can be done to prepare for the fire season. From developing a fire plan, ensuring gutters are clean and supporting local CFS, all these actions can assist in preparing for summer. However, what about in the long term? Supporting charities and environment-based groups is vital to helping those impacted by the fires. Environmental charities and organisations assist in protecting animals that become injured by bushfires across the country. The biggest issue in relation to these extreme bushfires remains the impact of climate change. Australia has always experienced bushfires, however their frequency and intensity is becoming a prevalent issue. Supporting bigger climate action is crucial, not only to assist in mitigating these natural disasters, but also to protect our environment as a whole. So, what can be done? Education and discussion is always an important step, as not everyone understands the link between climate change and an increase in severe bushfires. Talking to local environmental groups, organisations and council about plans for climate action within your local area is also incredibly important. Equally as important is recognising and holding accountable those who contribute to the climate crisis on a major scale, such as global corporations, fuel and oil companies and governments, all of whom prioritise profit over preservation and protection. We did not start these fires, but we will continue to be impacted by their destruction and devastation if we do not support and become the voices demanding better climate action.

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