Anthropogenic effects on climate change can be linked to the increase of disastrous natural incidents over the past few years. This is seamingly the case of bush fires, followed by the blazing of Eucalyptus, extremely flammable plants ravaging everything in their path. Although necessary for the regulation of ecosystems, this phenomenon is appearing more and more quickly and frequently as humans affect them.
Physical and material consequences :
More than 18 million hectares burned during the 2020 Australian bushfire season in mid January, destroying more than 5 900 buildings, including more than 2 800 homes. In addition to human deaths, several million animals are believed to have perished.
Impacts on biodiversity :
After the initial devastation of the fires, their effects continue. It is estimated that one billion animals, as well as many bats and insects, will likely die in the coming months due to the loss of habitat and food sources. This loss is part of a much larger picture of a world where biodiversity is rapidly declining. We are losing wildlife on an ever-increasing scale across the planet: this impacts ecosystems vital to our own global food production.
Economic consequences :
The costs to the Australian economy are still being analyzed, but it is clear that infrastructures have been damaged and that the impacts extend to sectors such as agriculture and tourism. Some businesses and institutions were forced to close during periods of excessive levels of air pollution.
The Vicious Circle :
Bushfires have not only been made more likely and intense by climate change. Their consequences fuel them. Previously, prior to the occurrence of this 2020 bushfire season in Australia, it was thought that Australian forests were reabsorbing all the carbon released by the bushfires that plagued the country. This would have meant that forests could have achieved net zero emissions. However, global warming is making bushfires more intense and frequent, and the 2020 bushfires have already emitted 400 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to the Copernicus observation and monitoring program. That’s as much as Australia’s annual average carbon dioxide emissions in just the past three months. These emissions will increase Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions record, contributing to global warming, and thus increase the likelihood of recurring mega-fires that will release even more emissions. This is a vicious climate cycle of great concern.