Australian Rain – Redeemer or Destroyer?
As the bushfires threatened to wipe out entire segments of Australia, the continent was blessed, or so it seemed, with rain that quickly did away with some of the flames. The problem is actually much more complex and growing, as there are still fires and the rain caused floods.
There have been relentless droughts and high temperatures, which made way for devastating bushfires which can be found in all regions of Australia, particularly Victoria and New South Wales. More than 30 people have been killed and over 27 million acres of land have been caught by the flames. Victoria has announced a state of disaster and even the military got involved in trying to overcome the calamity.
It is not ‘just’ the fires that are threatening to destroy cities and wildlife alike, it is also the smoke. On January 3, Canberra became the world’s third most polluted city and Melbourne reached spot number 12 on January 15. There has been a large increase in ambulance calls in Victoria with patients complaining of having breathing problems.
The smoke even spread out to regions in South America. The bushfires have been much worse this year than they have been for a while. The last time fires have caused significant concern for Australia was in 2009 when the death toll in Victoria was 173. At the time of writing, there are more than 100 fires, about 30 of which have been taken care of.
The rain was welcomed at first in the middle of January, but what was thought to be a blessing turned into a curse. The torrential rain caused floods and it particularly damaged the already suffering regions in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. A number of major highways have been cut off and several vehicles were swept away.
The rain caused power cuts in New South Wales and Victoria. The fires have already destroyed more than 8 hectares of land and there are still areas in Australia that are yet to receive any moisture.
Heavy downpour does not only destroy the fires, but it also causes flooding and major problems with pollution and sewage, not to mention the damage to transport and the infrastructure in general.
Does the Rain at Least Take Care of the Bushfires?
This is true, to a degree. The problem with the rain right now is that it comes as part of the thunderstorms, meaning that there is going to be lightning. With the heat that is still present, the moisture evaporates relatively quickly and the areas hit by lightning might start new fires. It doesn’t even have to happen right away, as sometimes there are embers that can persist until a warm wind spreads them around.
The fire and rain also caused some insurers to suspend selling policies in an effort to reduce panic and stop the public from getting insured out of fear.
The crisis from the bushfires and the subsequent rain has caused the Australian opposition to claim they would provide a more serious approach to battling climate change than the ruling conservatives. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, for example, has been heavily criticized for not addressing climate change with enough enthusiasm.
The Labor Party and the conservatives last reached an agreement on how to tackle the climate issues in 2007, but have since been divided on the proper course of action, including the reduction of carbon emissions. Hopefully, the two parties are going to come up with a system that works and prevents Australians from eventually becoming climate refugees.