Since October last year, wildfires have been raging in Australia, which have not yet been extinguished. Millions of hectares of land were burnt out, more than two thousand houses were destroyed. Killed 27 people and more than a billion animals.
Below we outline the main impacts of bushfires in Australia.
1. Physical consequences
As a result of the fires, more than 18 million hectares of land were destroyed. In addition, more than 5,900 buildings were destroyed, including over 2,800 residential buildings. In addition, many people and animals died.
2. Consequences for the environment
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In addition to the direct destruction of forests, there are other consequences. According to some estimates, a billion animals were destroyed, and many bats and insects will also die over the next months as a result of the fact that they have lost their habitat and source of food.
This is only part of a larger issue that threatens biodiversity affecting ecosystems.
It is in the forests that over 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects live. Therefore, forest fires that have been occurring in different parts of the planet in recent years have become a serious problem leading to a decrease in the number of species of animals and plants.
3. Human health
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As combustion products and smoke from fires reach cities, the Australian city of Canberra has the worst air condition in the world as of January 2020.
As a result of fires, harmful combustion products enter the air, which worsen the state of human health, primarily for the respiratory system. In addition, particles are released into the air, which can irritate the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose.
The consequences of such exposure can range from simple mucosal irritation to more serious disorders, including asthma and even death.
According to the WHO, elderly people, as well as people with cardiovascular diseases and chronic diseases, children, people working in the open air are especially vulnerable.
4. Influence outside the country
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Smoke from fires can travel long distances. Smoke from fires in Australia is already spreading over the Pacific Ocean and could reach Antarctica, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
This resulted in a significant deterioration in air quality in major Australian cities and also affected air quality in New Zealand and South America, where fire smoke reached Argentina and Chile.
5. Influence on the psychological state
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Fires affect not only the physical state of the population, but also the psychological state. The fact is that people are forced to go through an evacuation, to leave their homes, pets, and their belongings.
In some parts of the country, the population cannot be evacuated quickly due to blocked roads or failed power plants.
Thus, people find themselves virtually locked in dangerous conditions. Some were forced to seek refuge in boats or on the banks of water bodies. All this has a huge negative impact on the psychological state of the population.
6. Economic costs
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The impact of the fires on the Australian economy is still being studied, but it is clear to all that infrastructure has been damaged and that the fires have had a significant impact on industries such as agriculture and tourism.
7. Consequences for the climate
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Forest fires are not only a result of global climate change, but also contributed to a more intense process of climate change. Before the 2019-2020 fire season. it was believed that forests absorb all emissions that end up in the atmosphere due to fires in the country.
However, due to global warming, forest fires have led to more intense emissions of carbon dioxide. So, today the volume of emissions is estimated at 400 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
This is almost equal to the average annual carbon dioxide emissions in Australia: this volume was in the atmosphere in just three months. This will lead to an increase in Australia's greenhouse emissions, which will contribute to global warming.
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Ashes from forest fires settle in yards, on the streets, it is washed into the ocean on the shores of Australia, and also ends up in water bodies.
All this cannot but affect the quality of drinking water. Ashes contain various substances that can lead to a deterioration in water quality and the growth of algae and bacteria.
Ashes fall not only into the water, but also into the soil, which also leads to a deterioration in its quality.
Therefore, the ingress of ash can lead to disruption of biosystems, which will negatively affect the state of animals and plants.
9. Impact on agriculture
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Forest fires negatively affected not only the state of the soil: because of the fires, vineyards and farmland were destroyed, in addition to this, animals suffered. However, the consequences of fires can be more serious in the long term.
The fact is that, according to analysts, a drought may begin in the country as a result of forest fires. This will primarily affect milk production in regions that are already experiencing the destruction of infrastructure as a result of forest fires.
Industries such as meat, wool and honey production will also be negatively impacted. About 13% of the sheep population is located in regions that have been significantly affected by forest fires. Another 17% of the sheep population is in regions that are partially affected by wildfires, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.
10. Public opinion is changing
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The Australian population is believed to be misinformed about the link between severe wildfires and climate change.
Nonetheless, this year's wildfire season has shown both Australians and the rest of the world how devastating climate change can be to both the population and the economy.