Deadly Australia Bushfires Sweeping Country Reaches National Disaster

Matt Bird  |

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 500 million animals believed dead including, up to 30% of the koala population.
  • 1,400 homes have been destroyed.
  • The death toll from the fires rose to 17 on Wednesday.
  • Economic Impact: $50 million a day in damage to econony

Many Sydneysiders have been donning face masks to protect themselves from bushfire smoke pollution. Image Source: PETER RAE

Here is what you need to know about the fires:

Australia's bushfires are continuing to wreak havoc on communities all over the country. It could be months before eastern Australia has more than a million hectares of bushfires under control, as the country faces one of its worst bushfire outbreaks.

The bushfires have been fueled by prolonged drought and deforestation as well as the seasonal dry weather that affects the country every summer.

Fires are burning all over continental Australia and Tasmania. On the east coast in New South Wales more than 100 fires were burning on Wednesday.

Although temperatures have cooled a bit, conditions are forecast to worsen by Saturday. Ahead of a trough moving over the east coast is a mass of hot air, which could impact wind speeds. Temperatures are expected to reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit in large parts of the country. At least three more months of hot weather are expected in the country.

Australia's prime minister warned that the crisis will continue until the country gets a "decent rain," The Associated Press reported.

The smoke is so dangerous that the nation's capital, Canberra, is currently ranked the world's worst on the air quality index, the AP reported. Smoke has also wafted across the Tasman Sea into New Zealand.

Casualties and property destruction continue to rise. The death toll rose to 17 people on Wednesday after three additional bodies were found at Lake Conjola on the south coast of New South Wales, and several more people are listed as missing, the AP reported. More than 175 homes have been destroyed from the most recent fires, the AP reported. In New South Wales alone, more than 400 homes have been burned. Nationwide, more than 12.35 million acres of land -- about twice the size of Vermont -- have burned and more than 1,400 homes have been destroyed over the past few months, according to the AP.

The government has deployed military ships and aircraft to bring food, water and fuel to communities where roads were cut off by the fires. Some towns canceled firework celebrations for New Year's to prevent new wildfires.

Nearly 500 million animals are believed to have died in the fires. The fires have also been devastating for wildlife in the country.

University of Sydney ecologists estimate that around 480 million animals have been killed. Up to 30% of the koala population in New South Wales' mid-north coast may have been killed, Australia's minister for the environment, Sussan Ley, told the Australian Broadcasting. The region is known for its koala population.

"We have lost thousands, thousands of koalas, thousands of so many other species," Cheyne Flanagan, director of Koala Hospital in New South Wales, told ABC News. Flanagan said her hospital has taken in dozens of Koalas that had either been burnt or lost their habitats.

"This is the worst event this country has ever seen. Without a doubt, horrific," Flanagan said.

Click to enlarge

Image Source: Wolter Peeter

The fires also make the koalas more susceptible to certain disease, which could further endanger their populations, according to Flanagan.

"With the drought, there's no moisture out there in the eucalyptus leaves," Flanagan said. "There's no groundwater so they're all dying of dehydration, burns, and disease."

Videos have been circulating on social media of concerned passersby giving water to thirsty koalas they encounter on the side of roads. The marsupials "have no capacity to move fast enough to get away" from fires as they spread through the treetops, Mark Graham, an ecologist with the Nature Conservation Council, said during an New South Wales parliamentary inquiry last month.

Thousands of residents, tourists ordered to evacuate. More than 30,000 people have been ordered to evacuate popular vacation spots in the country. Authorities in New South Wales ordered tourists to leave a 155-mile zone along the south coast on Thursday morning. A seven-day state of emergency was issued and will go into effect on Friday. A first-ever state of disaster was also issued in Victoria, the country's second most populous state. About 4,000 Australians who could not escape due to closed roads took refuge by the beach in the town of Mallacoota on New Year's Eve.

Parking lots at gas stations and surf clubs transformed into evacuation areas as those with nowhere to go were forced to sleep in their cars, according to the AP.

The evacuations have caused traffic standstills, gas shortages and depletion of stock at supermarkets, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The U.S. embassy in Canberra has now advised Americans not to travel to the New South Wales south coast between Batemans Bay and the border of Victoria.

Residents placing blame on government Morrison and his conservative government have been fielding criticism for not doing enough to mitigate the fire.

Click to enlarge

Image Source: Unknown: Sydney Are, Australia

Australians residents and activists called on Morrison to enact policies to combat climate change, but the prime minister has refused to downsize the country's coal industry. Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas. And a range of published research has found escalating atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are increasing the risk of the type of fires affecting NSW’s eastern forests

Morrison was confronted by angry residents as he toured the town of Cobargo in New South Wales on Thursday. In the town of Quaama, a firefighter from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service refused to shake Morrison's hand. Morrison's government has pledged to reduce gas emissions to 28% by 2030 compared to the Labor Party's pledge to reduce emissions by 45%, according to the AP. The prime minister has said that the country would still meet its emissions targets.

Mike Flannigan, a fire scientist at the University of Alberta in Canada, said Australia’s fires are “an example of climate change.”

A 2019 Australian government brief report on wildfires and climate change said, “Human-caused climate change has resulted in more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires in recent decades for many regions of Australia.”

SOURCES (s): ABC News, Guy Davies, Daniel Manzo, Karson Yiu, The Guardian, Seth Borenstein

"Matt Bird" is the Network President of Equities News (Equities.com), Executive Producer and co-host of the Traders Network Show. 2019 Matt Bird was appointed to the advisory board and committee of Humanity 2.0, a Vatican City based non-profit focused on solving human impediments. Matt Bird also serves as chairman (Co-Founder) of Communication Marketing agency 1-800-PublicRelations (1800PR). In 2015 Matt Bird was ranked 3rd "Top 10 Most Influential Communications and Media Executives for Impact by the United Nation and PVBLIC - and was the acting director of communications for the U.N. SDG Media Zone. Matt Bird has lead ESG, social impact, sustainability and Public-Private Partnership initiatives for the United Nations, UN SDGs, UNCTAD, EU Parliament, NGOs and the U.S. Department of Commerce (International Trade Administration- trade.gov). Prior, Matt Bird was CEO of MUNCmedia, a (PaaS) news content distribution platform and network spanning 1400 publishers, reaching more than 110 million retail and institutional investors worldwide. In 2009 NASDAQ acquired the platform for integration into NASDAQ Financial Services group. The core technology and IP powers news targeting algorithms and content monitoring systems used by nearly all stock exchanges and newswires services today. On Sept, 21 2009 Matt Bird rang the NASDAQ Closing Bell in honor of his partnership the NASDAQ OMX and Globe Newswire for accomplishment to further the FinTech and financial communications industry. Matt Bird has severed as EVP and director rolls at BBDO, MarketWatch (formally ScreamingMedia), IGM. Mr. Bird current sits on numerous NGO, Public-Private partnership and reneging growth organization boards focus on economic development for social change.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer.

Comments

Watchlist

Symbol Last Price Change % Change
AAPL

     
AMZN

     
HD

     
JPM

     
IBM

     
BA

     
WMT

     
DIS

     
GOOG

     
XOM

     
BRK.A

     
FB

     
JNJ

     
WFC

     
T

     
NFLX

     
TSLA

     
V

     
UNH

     
PG

     

Blockchain in Fintech - Discussion at the EU Parliament

From the recent Blockchain For Europe Summit in Brussels: Panel on Financial Market Infrastructure