Devastating Bushfires Ravage Australia


European Space Agency

An image from space shows the bush fires in Queensland and New South Wales destroying forests and emitting large amounts of smoke.

For the past two weeks, bushfires have been raging across the Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland spawning a path of destruction and fear. Almost 130 bushfires are burning in the area, with thousands of firefighters desperately trying to fight the substantial threat. Three people have already been reported dead, with seven missing in the worst bushfire season ever recorded. Native wildlife has also been tremendously harmed especially koalas, who have now been declared habitually endangered. However, in the midst of all the destruction, a man has been arrested for purposely starting fires enraging the victims of the true bushfires as well as the exhausted firefighters. 

The man in question, whose name has not been revealed, was said to have set fires over a six week period, which he later attended to with his Rural Fire Service company as a volunteer. This came as a shock to the service’s commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who called the arson the “ultimate betrayal of our own members, and of the broader community”

The current wildfires are so tenacious that major roads and highways have closed down, with residents across the state advised to prevent nonessential travel. Additionally, schools have closed down and at-risk residents were advised to evacuate the area. Adding more fires onto the destruction only elevated the stress of the firefighters. Each team has to watch the threat of raging bushfires as well as the potential weather conditions produced by it, such as fire clouds which can produce lightning strikes. 

With the ominous yellow smoke wafting across the Australian coast, residents are fearing for their homes and their lives. Preliminary reports have shown that over 100 homes have been destroyed and two people have died in burned out homes and cars, with the other person dying in the hospital due to severe burns. 

Alongside humans, animals have also suffered the same fate. Bushfires have plagued the natural habit, drying up much needed resources. While some animals such as the emu have been able to escape, slower moving animals like the koala are sadly destined to a fiery death. Although special teams of detection dogs are searching for endangered koalas before the bushfires arrive, fears of worsening conditions are becoming apparent. Australia’s summer does not officially start until Dec. 1st, meaning that conditions could very well get worse before they get better. 

A viral video of a grandmother saving a crying koala as raging bushfires go on behind her has become a call to action to the effects of global warming and climate change. However, politicians do not feel the same way, going so far as to claim that talking about climate change while the fires were being fought was “inappropriate.” Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack even stated that the firefighters “don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time, when they’re trying to save their homes.” 

Concern about climate change in the government has waxed and waned. However, most residents and emergency service leaders have emphasized their concern over decreasing natural resources. In rural areas, many towns are reaching the end of their water supply combined with thousands of fish dying in one of Australia’s most important river systems. A lack of rainfall has only worsened conditions, drying up rivers and soil for crops. The rising rate of carbon emissions also brings concern, which when measured in per capita calculations, are worse than many countries across the world. 

With the worst of Australia’s bushfire season still to come, residents have been told to shelter down and be alert for any new threats. More residents have been evacuated as the fire grows, even impacting other Australian states with the spread of the carbon emissions due to the bushfires. The koala who had been rescued in that viral video which represented the costly destruction behind these fires has now died, succumbing to it’s injuries. With the death of the koala, Australians, as well as everyone else watching across the world, are reminded of what can occur when devastating environmental conditions are ignored.