The annual bushfires or wildfires in Australia that started since September 2019 have turned out to be a major catastrophe that should now be a cause for concern globally. As of now, at least 28 people have lost their lives nationwide due to the incident. According to rough estimates, about half a billion animals have been affected by the fires with millions likely dead. The country’s Federal Environment Minister has stated that almost a third of koalas in New South Wales may have been killed in the fires, and a third of their habitat been destroyed. A state of emergency was already declared in December 2019. The fire still rages on and the country has taken the help of other countries to combat it.
Summer in Australia — situated in the southern hemisphere— which lasts from December to February is known for low humidity, winds and very high temperatures. In such conditions, dry lightning is one of the main causes of starting wildfires, which in turn start more fires as a result of burning the embers blown by the wind. There are also cases of man-made fires. Unfortunately, there seems to be no respite as temperatures are expected to peak in January and February. Although Australia has had higher death tolls due to wildfires in the past, the present distraction will be the biggest in terms of area with current estimates at about 7.3 million hectares- almost five times the size of Nagaland. It is a massive blow to the ecosystem of the continent.
There is no doubt that world leaders need to accept that climate change is playing a major role for the increase in the volume of the fires. Australia has seen a steady rise in average temperatures over the years with drier summers. This year, the average annual temperature nationally was the highest recorded, in December 2019. Not only Australia, the world watched in disbelief when the Amazon rainforest fires burned more than 7 million hectares in 2019. In spite of the climate change deniers, there surely is air of uncertainty globally. While some regions are experiencing colder temperatures with higher amount of rain, some are facing higher temperatures and lesser rain. These changes might just be the indicators of bigger climate change-related disasters. There is already a strong scientific consensus that the earth is warming up. It is time to act.