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'Devastating' impact if Google leaves: Government may not want to call Google's threat to leave Australia

Nassim Khadem

'Devastating' impact if Google leaves: Government may not want to call Google's threat to leave Australia

2019–20 Australian bushfire season
2019-20 Australia Bushfires season montage.png
Clockwise from top left:
Sydney's George Street blanketed by smoke in December 2019; Orroral Valley fire seen from Tuggeranong; Damaged road sign along Bells Line of Road; Gospers Mountain bushfire; Smoke plume viewed from the ISS; Uncontained bushfire in South West Sydney.
LocationAustralia (nationwide)
Statistics
Costover $103 billion (2020 AUD)[1]
Date(s)June 2019 – May 2020
Burned areaApproximately 18,636,079 hectares (46,050,750 acres)[2]
CauseStarted fires

Enhanced fires

Buildings destroyed9,352+
Deaths
Season

The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season,[a] colloquially known as Black Summer,[13][16] was a period of unusually intense bushfires in many parts of Australia.

In June 2019, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service acting director warned of the potential for an early start to the bushfire season which normally starts in August. The warning was based on the Northern Australia bushfire seasonal outlook noting exceptional dry conditions and a lack of soil moisture, combined with early fires in central Queensland.[17] Throughout the summer, hundreds of fires burnt, mainly in the southeast of the country. The major fires peaked during December–January.

As of 9 March 2020, the fires burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres; 186,000 square kilometres; 72,000 square miles),[2] destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes)[18] and killed at least 34 people.[19][20][21][22][23][b] Nearly three billion terrestrial vertebrates alone – the vast majority being reptiles – were affected and some endangered species were believed to be driven to extinction.[24] At its peak, air quality dropped to hazardous levels in all southern and eastern states.[25] The cost of dealing with the bushfires is expected to exceed the A$4.4 billion of the 2009 Black Saturday fires,[26] and tourism sector revenues fell by more than A$1 billion.[27] However, economists estimated that the Australian bushfires may cost over A$103 billion in property damage and economic losses, making the bushfires Australia's costliest natural disaster to date.[1] Nearly 80 percent of Australians were affected either directly or indirectly by the bushfires.[28] By 7 January 2020, the smoke had moved approximately 11,000 kilometres (6,800 mi) across the South Pacific Ocean to Chile and Argentina.[29][30] As of 2 January 2020, NASA estimated that 306 million tonnes (337 million short tons) of CO2 had been emitted.[31][32]

From September 2019 to March 2020, fires heavily impacted various regions of the state of New South Wales. In eastern and north-eastern Victoria large areas of forest burnt out of control for four weeks before the fires emerged from the forests in late December. Multiple states of emergency were declared across New South Wales,[33][34][35] Victoria,[36] and the Australian Capital Territory.[37] Reinforcements from all over Australia were called in to assist fighting the fires and relieve exhausted local crews in New South Wales. The Australian Defence Force was mobilised to provide air support to the firefighting effort and to provide manpower and logistical support.[38][39] Firefighters, supplies and equipment from Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States, among others, helped fight the fires, especially in New South Wales.[40]

During the ensuing crisis, an air tanker[41] and two helicopters[42][43] crashed during firefighting operations, the air tanker crash resulting in the deaths of the three crew. Two fire trucks were caught in fatal incidents caused directly by fire conditions, killing three fire fighters.[44][45]

By 4 March 2020, all fires in New South Wales had been extinguished completely (to the point where there were no fires in the state for the first time since July 2019),[46] and the Victoria fires had all been contained.[47] The last fire of the season occurred in Lake Clifton, Western Australia, in early May.[48]

There has been considerable debate regarding the underlying cause of the intensity and scale of the fires, including the role of fire management practices and climate change, which during the peak of the crisis attracted significant international attention, despite previous Australian fires burning much larger areas (1974–75) or killing more people (2008–09).[49] Politicians visiting fire impacted areas received mixed responses, in particular Prime Minister Scott Morrison.[50][51] An estimated A$500 million was donated by the public at large, international organisations, public figures and celebrities for victim relief and wildlife recovery. Convoys of donated food, clothing and livestock feed were sent to affected areas.

  1. ^ a b Beth Daley (17 January 2020). "With costs approaching $100 billion, the fires are Australia's costliest natural disaster". The Conversation. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b Burton, Jesinta (7 February 2020). "'It was a line of fire coming at us': Firefighters return home". Busselton-Dunsborough Mail. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  3. ^ Alexander, Harriet; Moir, Nick (20 December 2019). "'The monster': a short history of Australia's biggest forest fire". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  4. ^ Sapwell, Gemma (13 November 2019). "Cigarette butt to blame for devastating Binna Burra bushfire". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  5. ^ Cormack, Lucy; Bungard, Matt (27 November 2019). "RFS volunteer charged with lighting seven fires". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  6. ^ Visontay, Elias (17 December 2019). "NSW bushfires: police set to charge a dozen with arson". The Weekend Australian. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b c "Special Climate Statement 71—severe fire weather conditions in southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales in September 2019" (PDF). Bureau of Meteorology. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference BBC1612020 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ Lucas, C.; Hennedssy, K.; Mills, G.; Bathols, J. (September 2007). "Bushfire Weather in Southeast Australia: Recent Trends and Projected Climate Change Impacts" (PDF). CSIRO. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Bushfire". Geoscience Australia.
  11. ^ Gourlay, Colin; Leslie, Tim; Martino, Matt; Spraggon, Ben (19 February 2020). "From a single lightning strike to Australia's largest bushfire". ABC News. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Nation unites to say thanks, but threat remains". weeklytimesnow.com.au. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  13. ^ a b Tolhurst, Kevin. "It's 12 months since the last bushfire season began, but don't expect the same this year". The Conversation. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  14. ^ Nelson, Janice (26 June 2020). "Geoscience Australia's Oliver Discusses Use of Landsat during Country's Historic Fires". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  15. ^ Hitch, Georgia (26 May 2020). "Bushfire royal commission hears that Black Summer smoke killed nearly 450 people". www.abc.net.au. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 5 February 2021. Associate Professor Fay Johnston, from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, said her team estimated around 445 people died as a result of the smoke, over 3,000 people were admitted to hospital for respiratory problems and 1,700 people presented for asthma.
  16. ^ Burgess, Tahnee; Burgmann, James R; Hall, Stephanie; Holmes, David; Turner, Elizabeth (2020). "Black Summer: Australian newspaper reporting on the nation's worst bushfire season" (PDF). Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub. Monash University. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  17. ^ Withey, Andree (27 June 2019). "Bushfire season starts early across northern Australia due to ongoing hot, dry conditions". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  18. ^ Tiernan, Finbar; O'Mallon, Eamonn (10 January 2020). "Australia's 2019–20 bushfire season". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  19. ^ Green, Matthew (14 January 2020). "Australia's massive fires could become routine, climate scientists warn". Reuters. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  20. ^ Cite error: The named reference abc2020014vic was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  21. ^ "The numbers behind Australia's catastropic bushfire season". SBS News. 5 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  22. ^ Henriques-Gomes, Luke (24 January 2020). "Bushfires death toll rises to 33 after body found in burnt out house near Moruya". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  23. ^ "NSW bushfires: Body found in burnt house on NSW coast". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 January 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  24. ^ Slezak, Michael (28 July 2020). "'Almost inconceivable': 3 billion animals believed killed or displaced in Australia's summer fires". ABC News. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  25. ^ "How The Australian Bushfires Will Impact Health". MSN. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  26. ^ Butler, Ben (8 January 2020). "Economic impact of Australia's bushfires set to exceed $4.4bn cost of Black Saturday". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  27. ^ "Australian tourism industry seeks urgent help as cost of bushfires grows". Reuters. 16 January 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  28. ^ "Summer of Crisis". Climate Council. 11 March 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  29. ^ "Australia bushfire smoke travels 12,000 kms to Chile". Dateline. Special Broadcasting Service. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  30. ^ "Australian bushfire smoke affecting South America, UN reports". The Guardian. Reuters. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  31. ^ Lee, Heesu (24 December 2019). "Bushfires Release Over Half Australia's Annual Carbon Emissions". Time. United States. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  32. ^ Lee, Heesu (24 December 2019). "Bushfires Release Over Half Australia's Annual Carbon Emissions". Retrieved 3 January 2020 – via Bloomberg.
  33. ^ "NSW Premier declares state of emergency ahead of catastrophic fire warnings". ABC News. Australia. 11 November 2019. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  34. ^ "A State of Emergency has been declared for NSW to protect communities ahead of worsening fire and weather conditions". Government of New South Wales. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  35. ^ Coote, Gavin (2 January 2020). "State of emergency declared in NSW ahead of horror fire weekend". PM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  36. ^ "Victorian fires: state of disaster declared as evacuation ordered and 28 people missing". Guardian Australia. Australian Associated Press. 3 January 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  37. ^ Midena, Kate; Burnside, Niki (31 January 2020). "Homes under threat as ACT declares state of emergency". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  38. ^ "Defence boosts bushfire support". Department of Defence. Australian Government. 4 January 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  39. ^ McLaughlin, Andrew (7 January 2020). "Feature: ADF MOBILISES FOR OPERATION BUSHFIRE ASSIST". ADBR. Felix Advantage Pty Limited. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  40. ^ "Australia fires: RSAF Chinooks to bring relief supplies, help with evacuation". Channel NewsAsia. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  41. ^ Cite error: The named reference smh20200123 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  42. ^ Bungard, Matt (10 January 2020). "Pilot swims to shore after water bombing helicopter crashes into dam while refilling". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  43. ^ Powell, Rebeka (14 November 2019). "Queensland bushfire threat continues, water-bombing helicopter crash-lands on Darling Downs". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  44. ^ "NSW bushfires: RFS names two firefighters killed south-west of Sydney". Guardian Australia. Australian Associated Press. 20 December 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  45. ^ Nguyen, Kevin (31 December 2019). "RFS firefighter who died when fire tornado flipped truck during Green Valley bushfire named as Samuel McPaul". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  46. ^ Guy, Jack. "After more than 240 days, Australia's New South Wales is finally free from bushfires". CNN. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  47. ^ "Victoria's bushfires declared contained after deadly fire season". 9news.com.au. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  48. ^ "Aftermath of accidental Lake Clifton fire | PHOTOS". Mandurah Mail. 3 May 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  49. ^ Cite error: The named reference 6timeslargerandmuchdeadlier was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  50. ^ Cite error: The named reference news9cobargo was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  51. ^ Brianna Travers (3 January 2020). "Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits Great Alpine Road 'Ground Zero'". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 August 2020.


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