Australia rarely gets the attention most countries get, partly because the land is so remote. The wildfires there are so extreme that they can’t be ignored, and yet probably aren’t getting the attention they’d get if they happened on one of the larger continents. About 10,000,000 acres have burned. That’s 5 times the acreage burned in California a couple of years ago, when many media outlets concentrated on celebrities’ homes that were in danger. The cause of Australia’s fires are being debated. Regardless of the initial cause, the fires are causing fires, and the fires are causing weather changes that cause yet more fires. It is hard to ignore the impact of Australia’s record heat that has persisted. The record average maximum summer temperature was 107F. That means some areas were even hotter. Climate change is more than the air getting a bit hotter. Cascading effects and various feedback mechanisms are unexpected consequences that amplify the impact. If it can happen there, where else can it happen? What other consequences and mechanisms aren’t we aware of?
Here in New Zealand we’ve been seeing and smelling the smoke from the Australian fires for days, with ash falling across the east-facing glaciers of the Southern Alps. It’s a human disaster of unprecedented scale for Australia; and we can but hope that things settle for them soon.
Sorry to hear about it, and the effect on New Zealand. I enjoyed my time there. In terms of giving others some way to appreciate the effect I wonder if it is similar to what people downwind of volcanoes experience. I’ve seen both, smoke (from smaller yet large forest fires in along the west coast of North America), and ash (as I’m within sight of three volcanoes in Washington State and have camped on their ash.) Nature’s reach is longer than most realize.
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