The catastrophic and unprecedented 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season, colloquially referred to as the Black Summer, burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres; 186,000 square kilometres, 72,000 square miles), destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes) and killed at least 34 people (including a number of firefighters). An estimated one billion animals were killed and some endangered species may have been pushed to extinction.
At its peaks, air quality dropped to hazardous levels. Smoke from the Australian fires was detected some 11,000 kilometres (6,800 miles) away across the South Pacific Ocean in Chile and Argentina. The cost of the fires is expected to be in the billions of dollars.
While the fires that ravaged every state and territory in Australia, particular the south-eastern States, are now extinguished and the world’s attention has turned to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot allow the Australian Black Summer to become a memory.
The impacts of Covid-19 will be a speedbump in contrast to the growing impacts of climate change.
It’s time to address the scary reality that the Australian Black Summer signals a new normal for bushfires in Australia and other regions around the world.
In this Episode of Eco Chat I’m joined by former Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW Greg Mullins to unpack the angriest summer of fires in Australia. We discuss how climate change is impacting the frequency and intensity of bushfires and how communities can reduce their bushfire risk in a warming world.