Forest Fires

Blaze down under

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 1-Climate change,Forest fires.

Context

In Australia, forest fires, among the worst in the country’s history, have been raging since September and show no signs of abating.

 Unabated fire in Australia

  • The fire, worst in Australia’s history, has been raging since September and shows no signs of abating.
  • At least 24 people lost their lives, 500 million animal have perished, and more than 12bn acres of land has turned to cinders.
  • New South Wales, the country’s worst-affected state, declared an emergency last week in its southeastern region.

Climate change and the fire

  • Australians have vented their anger at Prime Minister for playing down the blaze’s association with climate change.
  • Bushfires are actually a part of Australia’s ecosystem. Many plants depend on them to cycle nutrients and clear vegetation.
  • Eucalyptus trees in Australia depend on fire to release their seeds.
  • The prolonged blaze this year has coincided with Australia’s harshest summer.
  • Parts of the country recorded their highest recorded temperature in December.
  • Much of Australia is facing a drought that is a result of three consecutive summers with very little precipitation.
  • This, according to climate scientists, is unprecedented.
  • Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s 2018 State of the Climate report had given a hint of the change.
  • It said “Australia’s climate has warmed by just over 1 degree Celsius since 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events.’’
  • This has led to more rainfall in northern Australia but created drought-like conditions in the more densely populated southeast.

Damage caused to the flora and fauna of Australia

  • Australia is home to nearly 250 animal species.
  • Some of them like the koalas and kangaroos are not found elsewhere.
  • The region also has the highest rate of native animals going extinct over the past 200 years.
  • Experts, for example, reckon that more than a quarter of the koala habitat has been consumed by the blaze.
  • The fires have also caused a drop in the bird, rodent and insect populations.

Conclusion

  • These creatures perished are the building blocks of the ecosystem and the fall in their population is bound to have long-term impacts. In Australia’s bushfires lies a warning about the complex ways in which climate variables interact.
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