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Trip home to Australia fans flames of climate change

On January 29, 2020

BY SOPHIE TORCELLO / VN STAFF WRITER

For winter break, I returned home to Australia, my first Christmas there in three years.

It was refreshing to spend the holiday at the beach with family and friends rather than in the cold and snow of Detroit. 

However, the trip was one I will not forget for a long time – for a different reason.

My country was on fire.

As a foreigner in the United States, I have discovered that Australia is internationally known for its beautiful beaches and, of course, its unique wildlife – with a lot less crazy bugs than you may think!

Australia is also one of many countries experiencing the blatantly obvious effects of climate change.

Our iconic Great Barrier Reef is dying from rising ocean temperatures that bleach and kill the coral.

Below average rainfall has contributed to a nation-wide crisis of drought that has severely impacted local farmers and their livestock, one of Australia’s top exports.

Rural towns are running out of water.

Right now, the country is quite literally burning to the ground on a scale that has never been seen before. 

Australia is no stranger to bushfires and the devastation they cause.

They are a scary but inevitable part of the season. 

The country’s worst bushfire disaster, known as Black Saturday, occurred in 2009 when more than 400 individual fires burned across the state of Victoria, killing 180 people in just one day.

So far, the current fires have destroyed 300 million ares of land, an area twice the size of Maryland. 

Thirty-one people have died, 2,500 homes have been destroyed and an estimated billion helpless animals have perished.

Thousands of volunteer firefighters are working beyond 12-hour shifts in efforts to contain the blazes.

With all of this devastation taking place, Scott Morrison, our trusty prime minister, decided to take a “family vacation” to Hawaii.

The entire nation was left in shock but nothing could save him from the floral wreath headshot memes that were about to flood social media.

Upon his return home, he visited some of the affected areas only to be heckled away by locals outraged by his actions.

The Australian media and public recently nicknamed Morrison “Scotty the marketing guy” in response to how poorly he has been handling the bushfire crisis.

Since Morrison was elected in 2018 he has constantly been scrutinized for his nonchalant attitude toward climate change.

The lack of effort and support from his government in making positive changes when it comes to reducing toxic emissions is extremely frustrating to witness. 

A suggestion Morrison made that he believes would favor the climate and bushfire crisis was to dramatically decrease dense vegetation areas.

This was said after he made budget cuts to backburn large areas of grassland to deter fires from spreading should they start.

This method does not include burning dense bushland that is home to Australian wildlife.

So if we cut down all the trees, there is no way they can burn which will also help the environment, right?

Way to go, Australia.

 

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