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Australia Fires: Implications On Land, Koalas, And More

Australia Fires: Implications On Land, Koalas, And More

Avery Maloto

For the last couple of weeks, Australia fires have been giving California’s a run for their money. With the help of its extremely dry weather, strong winds, and atypically high temperatures, Australia continues to provide the perfect breeding ground for bushfires.

And as a result, its flames threaten the livelihood of humans and animals across the continent.

Record-Breaking Australia Fires Destroy Massive Plots Of Land

According to Andrew Watkins, a senior climatologist at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, 2019 marks the country’s “second driest January-October period on record”.  Coincidentally, Watkins adds that January-October accounts for Australia’s hottest temperatures ever recorded.  

In New South Wales alone, 60 fires are spread out across its state. Unrelentlessly, the flames have demolished over 4,000 square miles of land. To compare, this is equivalent to over thirteen times the size of New York City. As a result, authorities noted that at least six individuals are reported dead and roughly 600 homes have been destroyed.

Although New South Wales is not the only part of Australia subject to bushfires, it is by far the most severe case. This is due to the state’s environmental history. For over two years, New South Wales has been suffering from droughts.

As explained by an emergency services official, Mike Wassing, when coupled with high winds and temperatures, droughts can cause “tinder box-like conditions”. To further explain the situation, Wassing notes that “all it takes is one spark to start a fire that may burn for days”. 

In addition, the state of Queensland continues to remain ablaze as well. Currently, the Australia fires have destroyed 20 homes and roughly 695 square miles of land.

Koala Populations Dwindle Due To Australia Fires

Among the destruction of residential areas, the Australia fires continue to endanger wildlife populations as well. More specifically, these fires threaten to push the koala species towards the brink of extinction.

Earlier this year, the Australian Koala foundation claimed that there were fewer than 80,000 koalas left in the wild. As a result, scientists consider the species as “functionally extinct”. In other words, the animal population has may not have enough breeding pairs to successfully produce a new generation. At this rate, the koala population is at risk of being extinct by 2050.

With persistent flames, koala populations dwindle as their habitats continue to burn. According to the chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, over 1,000 koalas have been killed by the Australia fires.

For the few lucky animals who are able to escape, many walk-out of the fires with singed ears and burned feet. However, their fight for survival is not over. Unfortunately, the flames incinerated much of the population’s food supply as well.

Eucalyptus trees are the main source of nutrients for koalas. While the average koala consumes up to 2.5 pounds of eucalyptus leaves per day, the bushfires pose a serious threat to the animal’s diet.

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In the months it may take the charred plants to grow back, starvation is a likely scenario for surviving animals. 

Pumping Millions of Dollars Into Fighting Australia Fires

With the collaboration between the New South Wales’ premier, Gladys Berekiklian, and the federal emergency management minister, David Littleproud, a $48 million relief package will soon be granted to struggling communities.

With this money, Australia hopes to ensure to utilize the proper coordination, services, and equipment necessary to mitigate the fires. Included in these services is aerial support that is available at all times. 

Summary

It is difficult to conclude that a singular event is a direct result of climate change. However, there is a clear correlation between climate change and the severity of natural disasters and extreme weather conditions.

As climate change continues to increase global temperatures, many ecosystems become at risk of prolonged dry weather. As a result, wildfires continue to rage far past their traditional fire seasons. 

There are two paths that we can follow: working to break and prevent the current trends of relentless fires or continuing to pump millions of dollars towards putting them out. 

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