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East Coast of Australia literally on fire, #bushfires driven by global heating

The east coast of Australia is literally on fire, in early November, with bushfires spread up and down the east coast of Australia, particularly New South Wales. This is not normal for early November.

Fire conditions are exacerbated by the rising temperatures of global heating and change in rainfall patterns, and higher evaporation rates.

Adam Bandt, Greens MP spokesperson on climate change sums it up succinctly.

The view from Port Macquarie:

According to reports, Around a hundred bushfires are ablaze in the New South Wales and Queensland countryside. In the early hours of Saturday morning there were 82 fires burning across the state, with 45 yet to be contained. Nine of those fires were at emergency warning.

“We have never seen this many fires concurrently at emergency warning level,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told public broadcaster ABC. “We are in uncharted territory.”

MidCoast Mayor David West, from the town of Brimbin, said he had never seen anything like the nearby fire, according to the Sydney Morning Herald report.

“I’m looking at a sky that’s screaming danger, that’s saying ‘get out of my way, I’m going to kill you’,” he said.

“I know that sounds melodramatic but it’s not. This is a fire that’s devouring everything in its path.”

The main coastal highway, the Pacific Highway, is closed in both directions between Cundletown and Nabiac. Motorists are advised to avoid non-essential travel as there is no diversion.

A climate Council report from 2015 – The Burning Issue: Climate Change and the Australian Bushfire Threat – found the length of the fire season increased by almost 19% globally between 1978 and 2013. Longer fire seasons are reducing opportunities for controlled burning and intensifying pressure on firefighting resources.

Here is what they found:

Australia’s bushfire preparedness is at risk from climate change as bushfire seasons increasingly lengthen and overlap with fire seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.

Large areas of southeast and southwest Australia are facing above-average bushfire potential for the 2015/2016 summer. Most of the southeast coast of Australia is expected to experience above normal bushfire potential due to a long-term rainfall deficit, relatively low soil moisture, and relatively warm conditions predicted for the summer.

Globally, the length of the fire weather season increased by nearly 19% between 1979 and 2013. Longer fire seasons will reduce opportunities for controlled burning and increase pressure on firefighting resources.

Some of Australia’s key firefighting aircraft are leased from overseas and are contracted to North American firefighting services during their summer. The fire seasons of the two hemispheres – and the demand for these critical shared firefighting aircraft – will increasingly overlap, challenging such arrangements.

During the past decade, state fire agencies have increasingly needed to share personnel and other firefighting resources during peak demand periods. This pressure will continue to intensify and the number of firefighters will need to double by 2030 to meet demand.

4. Stronger climate change action is needed to reduce bushfire risk.

Australia’s emissions reduction target of 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030 is not sufficient to protect Australians from worsening bushfires and extreme weather events.

Australia must cut emissions more rapidly and deeply to join global efforts to stabilise the world’s climate and the vast majority of Australia’s fossil fuel reserves must stay in ground.

The Australian government is allowing apocalyptic fire conditions, endangering human life and the destruction of property by not escalating action on climate change, by not escalating Australia’s climate ambition.

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