WorldFebruary 2020Climate ChangeInternational News2020

Australian Bush Fires: International Response and Government Lack of Accountability

Delaney Cha
Staff Writer

For the past few months, the Australian Rural Fire Service (RFS) has been battling powerful wildfires in the New South Wales region of the country. The fires have killed over 27 people, burned more than 12 million hectares, and have killed or injured over a billion animals, according to The Diplomat.

Amidst all the chaos, Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison has been heavily criticized for his lack of action and proactivity over the devastating fires. During the most active weeks of the fires, The New York Times reported that Morrison had taken a trip to Hawaii with his family to celebrate the holidays.

Many citizens of the New South Wales region have spoken out against the Prime Minister. According to BBC, protesters have been claiming that more climate action needs to be taken. One protester wrote on her sign that Morrison’s “climate crisis destroyed [her] home.”

Morrison later announced at a press conference that he would be deploying the Australian Defense Force to help the RFS contain the fires. Many were relieved by this news until an advertisement ran praising Morrison and his government for their decision regarding the fires. Some saw the advertisement as partisan, serving Morrison’s political agenda.

The Prime Minister is not the only one who has received pressure from citizens of New South Wales. Many believe that the government, as a whole, has abandoned the people, and they are doing nothing about it. There are requests to give more funding to the firefighters of RFS.

Recently, the government of Australia and the Prime Minister have called for a state of emergency in the Canberra region, according to BBC. The Prime Minister has also claimed that he could have done more to prevent the worsening of the situation and to give relief to those in need during the peak of the fire season according to the Telegraph.

Due to the lack of assistance that the RFS and the people of Australia were receiving, many people took to social media to ask for help in gaining awareness of the fires. Multiple celebrities from Australia have developed fundraisers to help support the firefighters. Comedienne Celeste Barber has raised over $50 million for the RFS, according to BBC.

Other celebrities like Pink, Nicole Kidman, and the Hemsworths have also pledged support and donations to multiple organizations. The Irwin family, who manages the Australian Zoo, has helped save over 90,000 animals,  CBS News reported.

International support from other countries has also been pouring in. New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Singapore have all pledged military support to help assist the RFS. President Macron of France has also pledged support to Australia.

Firefighters from the United States have also traveled to Australia to help support and relieve RFS firefighters. They receive applause and hospitality at the airport for their involvement with fighting the fires.

The recent fires have been studied and observed by scientists. Some believe that the fires are caused by a recent pattern due to climate change around the world. Wildfires within this region are relatively normal, however, recent droughts cause the land to dry out more than usual. This, in turn, fuels the fires, allowing them to spread faster and burn much stronger.

The weather in Australia has been a major catalyst for the wildfires in New South Wales. Temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit have been consecutively heating up the region. Mixed in with low humidity and high winds creates a dangerous situation, result in the inability of firefighters to get close enough to contain the flame.

Currently, the fires in Australia, specifically in New South Wales and Canberra, are not entirely contained. Many citizens wonder as to when the fires will end or when the government will respond. Others continue to protest and donate in order to support those in need.

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