Interview season is still on and the world continues to churn out current-affair issues every other day. You wake up every morning, pick up a newspaper, scan through the international news column wondering, ‘what now?’ While reading the newspaper is a good practice, finding useful elements from a sea of information can sometimes become difficult. To help you in that department, we have gathered information on three major happenings that shook the world in 2019 and the beginning of 2020. These events might become a part of your next GD-PI-WAT topic. So, remember to pay extra attention to them. Today, we are going to focus on ‘‘Australian bushfires’. Read to know more.
Australia always had wildfires in their backyard. However, in 2019 the scale and intensity was unprecedented. Around 28 people died, 3,000 homes were destroyed and 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) of land was on the blaze. So, what caused the blaze that devastated such a huge chunk of the country?
What caused the bushfires?
- In 2019, there was a record-breaking rise in temperature, which led to extended droughts and strong winds. These conditions converged and created disastrous conditions that lead to the bushfires.
- A severe heatwave also gripped the country mid-December (107.4°F, or 41.9°C) and continued in southeastern Australia for a week.
- Apart from that, the overall heat led to one of the driest springs in Australia. Most parts of New South Wales and Queensland have been experiencing rain shortfalls since early 2017. The drought hit the country's most productive agricultural areas, including some that are now ablaze.
- Wildlife: As per the recent estimates 480 million animals have died during the blaze and the resulting lack of food, water and shelter, as well as the increased risk of predation. This figure only includes mammals, birds and reptiles, and excludes insects, bats or frogs. Apart from that, 30% of koalas have perished, threatening the koala total population.
- Smoke: The hazardous smoke caused due to bushfire had blanketed cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra for years. This lead to the shutdown of restaurants, shops, childcare centres, museums and government departments.
- CO2 Emission: CO2 emission due to bushfire is estimated to be more than 350 million tonnes, which is roughly around 2/3rd of Australia’s annual emissions in 2018-19. It will take more than a century for forests to absorb the amount of CO2 released during this season’s fires.
- Heat and drought: According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, 2019 was the hottest/driest year on record. The Climate Council has also said that the warming of the planet will make bushfire conditions more frequent, increasing the risk to people and property.
Why is the Australian government criticized?
- The Australian PM, along with many other officials in his government, continued to claim that “there is nothing unprecedented about this bushfire season”. In reality, this bushfire season has seen more than 100 emergency warnings across the country over a three-month period.
- While Australia was in the grip of the hottest summer and out-of-control fires, PM Morrison was vacationing overseas. He landed in Australia one day before his vacation ended, but by then the damage was already done.
- After arriving later to the scene, Morrison announced that the Australian Defense Force (ADF) would be deployed to help the local governments, officials, and firefighters to assist the affected areas. The announcement came as a relief to many victims of the fires, but two hours later, Morrison began to make it into an advert, boasting his government’s efforts in addressing the crisis. This further infuriated the general public.
- The fires have slashed $3.5bn (approx) from the Australian economy.
- The bushfires were able to reach the country’s east coast during the peak summer season, thus affecting the tourism sector badly.
- Agricultural sectors, particularly the dairy industry, have also been hard hit. There has been a huge loss of land and livestock and damage to the fresh produce market.
- Air pollution has affected more than 30% of the population, and reduced worker productivity increased health spending, lowered crop yields, led to road closures and increased costs to insurers. As per Jan 2020, 8,200 claims worth $644m had been lodged. The claims are likely to crimp the profitability of insurers and lead to a rise in premiums.
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That is it, folks! Meanwhile, if you have any other GD-PI-WAT topic you want us to write on, mention it in the comment section below.
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