About 62,000 square kilometres of the area has been destroyed in the massive Australian bushfires. This area is a little more than the entire state of Himachal Pradesh in India. The blazes have ruined more than 1400 homes and killed at least 24 people. Experts have said that the bushfires are one of the worst disasters in the century.
Drop in the Air Quality
The fire has caused a severe drop in the air quality of Sydney. The air quality of the largest city in Australia has exceeded “hazardous levels”. Breathing the air in Sydney is equivalent to smoking 37 cigarettes. This has led to a 10% rise in hospital admissions, according to the official reports.
Loss of Biodiversity
Australia supports a rich diversity of mammals, with over 300 native species. Of them, about 244 species, or 81 per cent of this distinctive fauna, are found only in Australia. Some 34 species and subspecies of native mammals have become extinct in the continent over the last 200 years, the highest rate of loss for any region in the world.
The accurate assessment of loss to biodiversity because of the current bushfires will be made only after the fires stop. But in the meantime, it has been estimated that 1 billion animals have been killed because of them. The number impacted by the fires by habitat loss or food loss will be much higher.
Role of Climate Change in the Bushfires
Bushfires are a normal phenomenon in the Australian continent. In fact, it is called fire season in the country. However, this year the fires are a lot worse than normal. The credit to this has been given to global warming.
The rise in carbon emissions has been warming the planet. Australian continent, as a result, is growing hotter in recent decades. In 2019, Australia twice set a new temperature record: an average maximum of 41.9C was recorded on 18 December. This is after a long period of drought.
While climate change may not have directly caused the fires but it played a significant role in increasing the impact of it. The efforts are being made to contain the fire and reduce the loss of lives. The loss of biodiversity has been overlooked. This compels us to ask the question, ‘Humans have been the troublemakers to the environment. How is it fair on nature? Why do other species have to pay the price for the actions of human beings?’