Australia on Fire: The Future Has Arrived Down Under
The climate clock is still ticking for most of the world, but for Australia, which is warming with anomalous speed, time seems to have run out. The visuals of red ash-filled skies, displaced families, and singed koala bears are matched by equally harrowing statistics. This bushfire season, 10 million hectares of land, mostly forest, have been burned, more than double the previous record. Ecologists estimate that a billion animals have died, many the last of their species. All of this is the result of Australia’s hottest, driest year on record, with mean temperatures an ominous 1.5 °C above the late twentieth-century average (and mean maximum temperatures already more than 2 °C above). As the country burns, the Australian government fiddles. Having won office with heavy spending by the powerful coal industry and the support of a coal-friendly press, the prime minister denies the role of climate change, as the inferno rages on.