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  • Writer's pictureWildfire Aware

Australia’s Bushfire Crisis: The Aftermath of Black Summer



Australia experienced one of the worst wildfire events in recent history during the 2019-2020 bushfires, otherwise known as Black Summer. This natural disaster resulted in the burning of an estimated 186,000 square kilometers and the destruction of over 3,000 homes and buildings. It also killed dozens of people and 3 billion animals, including many of the nation’s iconic koala bears, which have since been declared endangered. The smoke from Black Summer also had a devastating effect on the ozone layer, depleting it by 1%, an amount which typically takes a decade to recover. It is clear that Australia has not only been hit hard by these wildfires but is also more vulnerable to them due to its faster-than-average warming rate since the Industrial Revolution.


The Causes Behind Australia’s Bushfires

The bushfires were caused by a combination of record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought across much of Southern and Eastern Australia. These factors created extremely dry conditions that made it easier for fires to spark and spread quickly throughout the country. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported that 2019 was both Australia’s hottest year on record and its driest year since 1900, setting up ideal conditions for large-scale fires. This combined with strong winds helped fuel what became known as Black Summer.


The Effect On Air Quality And Human Health

In addition to destroying land and habitats, Black Summer had a significant impact on air quality across the country. According to researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, there was a sharp increase in air pollution levels due to bushfire smoke during December 2019 and January 2020 compared to previous years. This led to an increase in hospital admissions for respiratory illnesses such as asthma attacks as well as other health complications such as headaches and dizziness due to poor air quality. In addition, some areas saw higher rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief counseling requests, and alcohol abuse due to prolonged exposure to smoke haze from the bushfires.


It is clear that Black Summer was one of the worst wildfire events in recent history for Australia with far-reaching consequences—from environmental destruction on land and in our atmosphere; impacts on animal populations; human suffering; mental health issues; hospitalizations; economic losses; loss of property; displacement from homes; disruption to businesses -the list goes on! As Australians prepare for another summer season amidst climate change predictions that suggest increasing chances for more frequent heatwaves leading up to 2035 – concerted efforts are needed now more than ever before at all levels - individual action through sustainable lifestyle changes; policy reform by governments at all levels; collaboration between different industries – if we are going to prevent another fire crisis like Black Summer occurring again in our lifetime.

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