After Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, Australia is also on fire. It is hard not to break into tears at the sight of the photos that are currently going around the world. Around 500 million animals have already fallen victim to the devastating bush fires in Australia – experts say this corresponds to a third of the entire koala population in New South Wales. However, these are only estimates, the actual number is probably much higher. Professor Andrew Beattie from Macquarie University near Sydney also confirms this to Merkur.de. It is „fairly certain that in large parts of these very extensive fire areas most of the animal world is dead,“ said the biologist. „The flora and fauna is gone.“ More than 5.5 hectares of land have been destroyed – and it may take at least 40 years for nature to recover.
The fires in Australia have not been under control since October – temperatures of up to 48.9 degrees in Sydney and 44 degrees in Canberra make the fire department’s work extremely difficult. 24 people have already died from the flames, and more are missing. Wild fires, as experts prefer to say, rather than forest or bush fires, are here every season. But what Australia – especially the states of New South Wales and Victoria – has been experiencing for months has reached a new dimension. The special thing is not the gigantic sounding area, larger than the Netherlands, which has been burned since September. Whether this will become a record in the history of Australia can only be seen at the end of the branding season.
What is extreme is how many settlements in which people live are affected this time. And: the summer heat that has been sweating the country for weeks. The weather stations recently reported peak values of 40, sometimes even 50 degrees Celsius. The heat wave has decreased a bit these days. Even if some rain has been announced for the weekend, experts from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) expect little precipitation until February. According to weather service data, 2019 has been the driest and hottest year since weather records started. Nationwide, it was a full 1.5 degrees warmer than average.
The fire season also started exceptionally early and violently in 2019. The continuing drought and the wind – all of this has led to the fact that the majority of the more than 200 fire sources currently blazing along the east coast have become too monstrous to be extinguished. Firefighters are therefore concentrating on the settlements that are still to be saved and trying not to let the fires get through there. The flames will find food for months, the government estimates. Even if it doesn’t burn again where the fire has gone.
Extreme heat and hurricane-like winds also fuel the fires in Australia – similar to the Amazon region. Australia is at a turning point, „said Dale Dominey-Howes, a disaster and fire researcher at the University of Sydney.