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World Australian bushfires extinguished, but climate rows rage on

07:15  15 february  2020
07:15  15 february  2020 Source:   msn.com

Australia's 'black summer' provides glimmer of hope for climate policy action

  Australia's 'black summer' provides glimmer of hope for climate policy action Australia's deadly wildfires have opened up a small window of opportunity for the country to break a decade-long impasse on climate policy, as some politicians and big business push for major change. © Reuters/WILLY KURNIAWAN Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacts after attending the inauguration of Indonesia's President Joko Widodo for the second term, at the House of Representatives building in Jakarta Independent politician Zali Steggall this week unveiled proposed legislation to target zero carbon emissions by 2050, aiming to take advantage of a subtle shift in rhetoric from the conservative Liberal-led coaliti

Australia 's "black summer" of devastating bushfires is finally coming to a close, but bitter arguments over how to tackle climate -fuelled disasters are raging on . When firefighters announced this week that all blazes in the hard-hit state of New South Wales were under control for the first time since

Australia 's "black summer" of devastating bushfires is finally coming to a close, but bitter arguments over how to tackle climate -fuelled disasters are raging One reason, he explained, is that while the hot and dry Australian continent is uniquely susceptible to the impact of climate change, it is also a

Australia's "black summer" of devastating bushfires is finally coming to a close, but bitter arguments over how to tackle climate-fuelled disasters are raging on.

a view of a snow covered mountain: Dozens of families have lost loved ones in the bushfires, thousands of homes and farms have been gutted and swathes of the east coast are scarred charcoal-black© TOM BANNIGAN Dozens of families have lost loved ones in the bushfires, thousands of homes and farms have been gutted and swathes of the east coast are scarred charcoal-black

When firefighters announced this week that all blazes in the hard-hit state of New South Wales were under control for the first time since September, the relief was palpable.

In other regions, a few fires are still being contained, but most Australians can finally abandon the grim rituals of the last half-year -- morning checks of smog monitors and "Fires Near Me" apps, deciding whether the kids can play outside, whether to flee or defend their homes.

Australia's climate crisis has been building for years but no one listened

  Australia's climate crisis has been building for years but no one listened Australia was already grappling with extreme heat and one of the worst droughts on record when devastating bushfires tore through the bone dry land. © Brook Mitchell/Getty Images CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 01: A horse is pictured on the property of Claire and Laurence Cowie. The couple stayed to defend their home on Bumbalong Road, Bredbo North, losing the back shed and narrowly saving the house. February 01, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr declared a State of Emergency on Friday, as the Orroral Valley bushfire continues to burn out of control.

How Australia has been battling bushfires during a devastating fire season. Fires have raged near the Australian capital Canberra for weeks - at one stage shutting the city's airport as So is this down to climate change? Many Australians are asking that very question - but the science is complicated.

The raging bush fires that have swept across Australia continue to spread, as strong winds and record temperatures fan the flames. Firefighters are still

But the after-effects will endure, and national soul searching has already begun.

"We know events like these can challenge the way we think about the world, undermine our perceptions of safety, and rupture social bonds," said disaster response expert Erin Smith.

Dozens of families have lost loved ones, thousands of homes and farms have been gutted, swathes of the east coast are scarred charcoal-black and millions have had their sense of security shaken.

"It will likely take years and a great deal of imagination for us to figure out where we go from here," said Smith.

The question of what is next for Australia is already being asked, most of all of political leaders, and it is being met mostly with finger-pointing and recrimination.

Climate change's role in Australia's fires

  Climate change's role in Australia's fires Scientists say climate change is behind the unprecedented intensity of the bushfires that have burned a reported 27 million acres in Australia.The fires have devoured forests like rivers of lava. Smoke blanketing the landscape, the skies turning marmalade in the middle of the day. It's been a black summer down under. And it's not over yet. It sometimes feels as if Australia is at war, doing battle with insatiable flames that are fueled by record heat, high winds and a country parched by drought. And this is what's been left behind in towns like Cobargo, five hours south of Sydney, where Marilyn Mills was trapped inside her burning house.

The Australian bushfires raged for months, devastating tens of thousands of hectares (AFP But heavy rains that helped extinguish the blazes that have raged along the east coast since The fires were exacerbated by prolonged drought and worsened by climate change in the country's hottest and

Australian firefighters are continuing to tackle more than 100 bushfires , which the government says have been exacerbated by climate change. A government commission says the heatwave and fires have been exacerbated by global warming. " Climate change is increasing the risk of more frequent

- 'Heads above the parapet' -

While scientists agree climate change created favourable conditions for the blazes, politicians of all stripes are acutely aware how sensitive the issue is in Australian politics.

In an arid nation whose economic strength is intimately tied to the mining and export of fossil fuels, at least four prime ministers have been ousted in part over their climate policies.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has seen his ruling conservative coalition threatened by members in rural constituencies demanding funding for more coal-fired power plants.

At the same time, the centrist wing of his party has criticised his climate targets as inadequate.

Meanwhile rebel members of opposition Labor met secretly to steer the centre-left party's leadership toward a more overtly pro-coal stance.

The party's deputy leader awkwardly refused to rule out more coal subsidies, months after vowing they should end.

Olivia Newton-John to Host "Fire Fight Australia" Benefit Concert With Musical Guests

  Olivia Newton-John to Host The actress and philanthropist Olivia Newton-John is putting her talents to use to host this amazing benefit for the Australian wild fires.Australian celebrity Olivia Newton-John is using her fame for good. The actress and musician will be hosting a benefit for the Australian wild fires that will feature some big name artists. Performances by Queen + Adam Lambert, Michael Bublé, k.d. lang, 5 Seconds of Summer and more will take place on Sunday, Feb. 16, with special coverage being aired on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Australia has always experienced bushfires - it has a "fire season". Media caption"You're an idiot, mate": Australian PM Scott Morrison heckled by bushfire victims. But the national government has come under strong criticism from its opponents that it's not been doing enough against climate change.

Australia 's climate has warmed by more than one degree Celsius over the past century, causing an increase in the frequency and intensity of Until the 2019–2020 Australian bushfire season, the forests in Australia were thought to reabsorb all the carbon released in bushfires across the country.

"They don't want to stick their heads above the parapet, at least when it comes to suggesting substantive policy," said Matt McDonald, an expert in climate politics from the University of Queensland.

One reason, he explained, is that while the hot and dry Australian continent is uniquely susceptible to the impact of climate change, it is also a world-beating source of coal.

Coal accounts for around 75 percent of Australia's electricity generation and exports of the fossil fuel are worth Aus$60 billion a year, the country's largest export after iron ore.

People in affluent suburbs may call for emissions cuts and green energy, but coal accounts for thousands of jobs in election-deciding districts of Queensland and New South Wales, and many more in the related aluminium smelting business.

Independent MP Zali Steggall -- a former barrister and Olympic medal-winning skier -- who ousted climate-sceptic former prime minister Tony Abbott from his Sydney seat at the last election, wants to take some heat out of the debate.

She has introduced a bill that would reduce Australia's carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and divert some contentious issues to an independent expert body.

"The debate has been very divisive," in part because of the blame game, Steggall told AFP. "There was a certain defensiveness in the early days of this debate because the finger was so squarely pointed at coal and fossil fuels."

"You have to think about a generation that worked really hard at building Australia's prosperity on fossil fuels. You have to be very careful in the debate about apportioning blame. It's not like it was done on purpose."

"It's about recognising and being thankful for that contribution, but acknowledging that we do need to evolve," she added. "We're all going to get there in the end."

With bushfires projected to get ever more deadly and the next season a little over six months away, the risk, Steggall says, is that politicians take so long to reach consensus "it will be too late to do anything".

Australian brushfires contained in New South Wales for the first time after 'devastating' season. Still, the threat isn't over. .
The Rural Fire Service in New South Wales, Australia, announced devastating brush fires are contained for the first time this season.NSW RFS called the fire season, which typically starts in December, “traumatic, exhausting and anxious.” Fires have burned in the region for months, some since September, destroying nearly 2,500 homes and killing dozens of people and potentially killing a billion animals.

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