The bushfires in Australia are now so big that they are generating their own weather, in the form of giant thunderstorms that start more fires. They have burned six times the size of the 2019 fires in the Amazon, triple the size of the fires in California.
Australia is burning, unbelievable sights of ten tonnes of fire-trucks swept up by fire fronts and turned over, are in our papers and our social media. Record-breaking heat waves and months of drought have created the conditions for unprecedented fires across Australia taking several species to the point of extinction. Ocean temperatures too are at an all time high.
The bushfires in Australia are now so big that they are generating their own weather, in the form of giant thunderstorms that start more fires. They have burned six times the size of the 2019 fires in the Amazon, triple the size of the fires in California. 18 are dead so far.
At Mallacoota, a remote eastern holiday town, where I usually have relax for a few weeks,.. day turned to night as smoke extinguished all light in the early morning, preceded by a blood red sky. Holidaymakers had to be rescued by the navy. All around the coastline horror scenes are repeated, towns are in emergency footing, inland food is scarce and long queues for petrol are the norm
Canberra the capital was recorded as having the worst air pollution in the world. Temperatures rose in Sydney and Canberra to break records. Every state in Australia is affected.
As of January 2, an estimated 5.9 million hectares of land had been burnt. That’s larger than Denmark and the Netherlands . Scientists estimate that close to half a billion native animals have been killed and fear that many species of will now be extinct.
Behind the Australian government’s and the Australian opposition’s denial of climate change, lie close ties to the coal and fossil fuel industry. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and gas. So it is no wonder that it is ranked 57th out of 57 countries on climate-change action.
To get out of the no win situation of dire climate crisis we need to organise a credible leftwing alternative path that goes beyond the vacuous “climate action now” approach that Australian demonstrations have used to date. This strategy which is almost universal in the climate movement is irresponsible and ineffective, as it fails to point to what action is needed.
In the past a climate tax had been proposed which has been very unpopular because it would inordinately hit the poor and hardly make a dent in the pockets of the rich.
The Australian Greens, who get no more than a few seats in government, are not offering a credible strategy to win their policy proposals.
There is a dire need to point the way to how we can win massive government investment in publicly owned renewable energy and build the grid to support it for a start (literally the only way to rapidly transition to 100% renewables)
Workers are angry, school children are angry. The elderly are angry. We will never get back our childhood holiday places, farms or wildlife. Our unique forests are ashes. There is a great sorrow and a great anger. But if this anger turns to union action we can prevent the worst and turn it around.
Scott Morrison has given the green light on a huge new coal mine in Queensland. Adani, which is building the new Carmichael mine. It is expected to extract up to 60 million tonnes of coal annually. The coal industry hopes for another six mines to be approved too. .Despite huge opposition, Morrison signed off on the deal in January 2019.
Actions like this show that politicians, oil and gas firms have no intention of scaling back the fossil fuel capitalism that is careering us towards disaster.
The fires have been so large, so intense, covering every corner of the country, including snowfields, no one is unaffected. The summer season is long, the forests dry and the political necessity great. The PM is a Trumplike figure, a blasé Pentacostal uncaringman, but followed as there is little alternative in the parliamentary system.
It is going to take a conscious mass movement with legitimate demands that appeals to workers and students. Transition to just solutions is a hard call but must be on the agenda, there is no short cut and time is limited.
Melanie writes for us from Australia.