Australia's Terrifying Bushfires Remind Us Climate Change Is Here

Illustration for article titled Australia's Terrifying Bushfires Remind Us Climate Change Is Here
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Bushfires are raging through southeastern Australia and have possibly killed hundreds of koalas at one nature reserve. This comes as firefighters finally contain California’s Kincade Fire in Wine Country and as Friday marks the first anniversary of the deadly Camp Fire in California. Climate change is affecting all parts of the globe, and it appears to be the culprit for Australia’s early fire season this year.


A Guardian analysis on fire patterns over the last 44 years found a connection among weather events, such as El Niño, climate change, and the country’s fire season. During an El Niño, the weather grows hot and dry, making bush more susceptible to catching fire. As a result, the season may be starting sooner due to climate change. That won’t always be the case, though, and a mild fire season doesn’t mean climate change isn’t here, per the Guardian.

This fire season is already off to a scary start, though. Eighty-two fires are burning across New South Wales, according to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. Twelve emergency warnings are in place, which means the fires are considered “very dangerous,” per the fire service. In Queensland and New South Wales, at least four homes have been destroyed, reports the Weekend Australian, but that number could be closer to 20.

The impact goes beyond humans though. Half of the koalas living in the Lake Innes Nature Reserve are presumed dead, according to Reuters. That’s about 350 of these beloved animals, which are facing increased threat due to loss of habitat and climate change. It’s bad news all around for Australia and how climate change is impacting the country. Australia began the year with record-breaking heatwaves, and it looks like it might end the year with devastating wildfires.

This is what climate change looks like.

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.


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Almost off topic, but close enough. On the day off of an extended field project, the aussie on the team suggested we spend the day relaxing in the bush. That sounded fun. However I then learned that bush is pretty much the same as forest.

What is the difference between Bush and Forest?

• A forest is understood universally as a vast expanse of land covered with dense vegetation and large trees.

• Bush is a word that has different meanings in different countries, though in general, it can be considered as an area in the wilderness or rural settings full of vegetation that is smaller than that found in a forest