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Australia fires: what caused them and how bad has the impact been?

Wildfires often occur during the dry season in Australia dry season due to high temperatures and wind, but this year, the combination of heat, months of drought and strong winds have led to the spreading of fires.

The fires in Australia have been burning since September 2019 and are expected to continue for the next three months. In New South Wales, the temperatures are set to reach 40Β°C again, placing lives and towns at further risk.

20 people have died and over 2000 homes have been destroyed.
How much of Australia is on fire?

There are fires burning across Victoria and New South Wales and they've burnt 12.35 million acres of land. In comparison, the Amazon fires burnt 900 000 hectares in 2019 and 800 000 hectares were burnt in Californian fires in 2018.

Sydney and Melbourne have been covered in a dense blanket of smoke. Last week, clouds of ash from the bushfires spread over 2,500 miles toward New Zealand. Some areas of Australia have estimated air quality to be 20 times above the hazardous level.

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Here are links for those who are able to help: DISASTER RELIEF Red Cross www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate Victorian Bushfire Appeal www.vic.gov.au/bushfireappeal SA Bushfire Appeal www.sa.gov.au/topics/emergencies-and-safety/recovery/donating Foodbank www.foodbank.org.au/support-us/make-a-donation/donate-funds St Vincent de Paul NSW Bushfire Appeal www.donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw VOLUNTEER FIRE SERVICES NSW Rural Fire Service www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade Victorian Country Fire Authority www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa SA Country Fire Service www.cfsfoundation.org.au Tasmania Fire Service www.fire.tas.gov.au/Show?pageId=colContactUs Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland www.rfbaq.org/donate-to-rfbaq WA Volunteer Fire and Rescue www.dfes.wa.gov.au/contactus/pages/donations.aspx ACT Emergency Services Agency www.esa.act.gov.au/rural-fire-service NT Fire and Rescue Service www.pfes.nt.gov.au ANIMAL RESCUE Port Macquarie Koala Hospital www.gofundme.com/f/help-thirsty-koalas-devastated-by-recent-fires RSPCA NSW Bushfire Appeal www.rspcansw.org.au/bushfire-appeal NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund Wildlife Victoria Bushfire Appeal www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/donate/donate-to-wildlife-victoria #repost #bushfiresaustralia #australiafires #australia #help #volunteers #donations #donate Reposted from @hamishlancaster

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How are the fires being fought?

Professional firefighters and thousands of volunteers are working to battle the flames. Firefighters are releasing water and fire retardant from planes as well as from the ground.

The authorities are focusing on stopping the fires from spreading, rather than putting them out. Through digging earth boundaries, flames are being contained and are saving lives.

America, Canada and New Zealand have sent firefighters to help Australia battle the fire. The police, military and navy of Australia are involved in rescue and evacuation efforts.

Are the fires linked to climate change?

Bushfires are not caused by climate change, but they are a result of the effects of global warming. The rise of carbon dioxide has been warming the planet and as a result, Australia has been getting hotter and will continue to in decades to come.

In 2019, Australia experienced its hottest year, with temperatures reaching 1.5 degrees higher than the average. These hotter and drier climates will contribute to fires in Australia becoming worse and more frequent. This will allow the flames to spread quicker and wider.

Since September, Australia's fires are estimated to have released 350 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Experts claim it will take more than a century to absorb the carbon dioxide released.

How have the fires affected wildlife?

While animals such as kangaroos are fast to flee the flames unless trapped, koalas are slow movers and many have died in the fires.

In New South Wales alone, an estimate of 500 million animals have died. Not only are the fires killing animals but they are destroying their habitats. This leaves the survivors vulnerable even after the fires have passed.

While experts do not believe koalas are at risk of extinction, the species, like many others of Australia are under threat because of the bushfires.

The political response

Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison has been facing criticism. When Morrison visited the village of Cobargo, he was received by angry residents refusing to shake his hand.

Scott Morrison has promised an improved funding system for firefighting and will be offering payouts to volunteers.

Regardless, the government has come under strong criticism for not doing enough to fight climate change. However, it has committed itself to targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

You can find information on how to help the peoples and animals affected by the Australian bushfires here.