In November 2019 I wrote about the bushfires and burnoffs and calling for better political leadership. A few weeks ago we lit the first hazard reduction burn around our house since those fires. It brought up a few memories and feelings.
It’s two years now since the first fires came. They had been near Armidale and Tenterfield for a couple of weeks; then they were much closer. A hot day, a big wind and an ember from kilometres away landed high on the Leather Jacket Ridge that runs through the middle of Wytaliba, our 3,500-acre community. Over the next week, with calmer and cooler conditions that fire burned slowly downhill to our settlement areas.… Seguir leyendo »
After the second world war, Greece’s countryside experienced two debilitating human surges – an exodus of villagers, then a most peculiar human invasion of its fringes. These two surges, aided by a weak state and abetted by the climate crisis, have turned the low-level drama of naturally redemptive forest fires into this summer’s heart-wrenching catastrophe.
After heatwaves of unprecedented longevity, wildfires across the summer months have so far destroyed more than 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of ancient pine forests. They have blackened swathes of Attica, scorched parts of ancient Olympia and obliterated north Evia’s magnificent forests – whose rural communities lost their homes, not to mention their livelihoods and landscapes.… Seguir leyendo »
Six years after finding themselves at the forefront of Europe’s political crisis over refugees, thousands of Greeks are now refugees in their own country.
On July 21, a small wildfire began burning over the northern half of Evia, an island around 30 miles northeast of Athens. Over the next 20 days — most of which exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees Celsius — it swelled into a vast conflagration, sweeping from one coastline of Evia to another and racking up a staggering balance sheet of damage: 120,000 acres of burned forest, hundreds of millions of euros in economic loss, and the wholesale evacuation of dozens of villages and thousands of islanders.… Seguir leyendo »
Since July 28, wildfires have ravaged many areas in Turkey, causing widespread damage along the southwestern coast. The worst in the country’s modern history, the fires so far have taken nine lives, destroyed more than 230,000 acres of forest land, caused massive air pollution and displaced thousands.
But the 200 or more wildfires throughout the country also triggered a major political crisis for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. Why do many in Turkey hold the Erdogan regime accountable for this summer’s disaster?
Turkish citizens for the most part don’t blame Erdogan for the fires. Experts claim that this year’s Mediterranean wildfires, which have also hit areas of Greece, Italy, Spain and Lebanon, are a product of climate change.… Seguir leyendo »
Swimming in the pristine waters of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast a few weeks ago, I thought, “No wonder this is the setting for so much of mythology.” The ice-cold turquoise water was surrounded by rich pine forests and replenished by underground streams from the mountaintops. With only a few swimmers on the forest’s edge, nature’s dance from green to blue was breathtaking.
But that may no longer be the case. A stone’s throw away from where I was swimming, fires are ravaging local communities and seaside resorts. With a heat wave bringing record temperatures, dozens of wildfires have devastated scenic forests on the Turkish Riviera and threatened the seaside towns of Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris.… Seguir leyendo »
I have a pastime, one that used to give me considerable pleasure, but lately it has morphed into a source of anxiety, even horror: earth-watching.
Let me explain.
The earth from space is an incomparably lovely sight. I mean the whole planet, pole to pole, waxing and waning and rotating in that time-generating way it has, and not the views from the International Space Station, which is in a low orbit about 200 miles up and gives us only part of the whole.
My earth-watching, made possible by NOAA and Colorado State University websites, originates in three geostationary weather satellites parked in exceedingly high orbits above the Equator.… Seguir leyendo »
“Demasiada tierra para tan poco indio”. Así dice el gastado credo recientemente revivido por el presidente de Brasil, Jair Bolsonaro. Y, sin embargo, esos “pocos indios”, que representan 305 grupos indígenas y hablan 274 idiomas, han logrado lo que los gobiernos han intentado sin éxito durante décadas: controlar la deforestación en más de 1.150.000 kilómetros cuadrados de bosques amazónicos.
Los pueblos indígenas manejan aproximadamente la mitad de la Amazonía brasileña y año tras año sus tierras han tenido las tasas más bajas de deforestación en la región. Pero recientemente, el trabajo de los pueblos indígenas se ha vuelto más difícil, ya que el gobierno no ha hecho cumplir las protecciones constitucionales de sus derechos a la tierra.… Seguir leyendo »
Among the few remaining advantages that Americans can claim over other countries is the relative cleanliness of our air. Air pollution is a leading risk factor for early death; it is linked to an estimated four million premature fatalities around the world annually. But over the last 50 years, since Congress passed environmental legislation in 1970, air quality in the United States has steadily improved. Today, America’s air is significantly cleaner than in much of the rest of the world, including in many of our wealthy, industrialized peers.
Well, not literally today, considering I needed an N95 mask to walk to the mailbox this morning.… Seguir leyendo »
In the Australian bush southwest of Sydney, a wedge-tailed eagle is gliding over the paddocks. He’s on the hunt for prey. Watch a “wedgie” for long enough and you’ll see them suddenly swoop, dive-bombing toward the ground, before lifting aloft a rabbit, wallaby or small kangaroo.
There’s no sign of that today. Today, he circles, looping over hillsides filled with blackened trees. There’s no prey to find.
We’re on Tallygang Mountain Road, in an area called Wombeyan Caves. The bushfires swept through this part of Australia in early January, during a fire season which consumed more than 12.6 million hectares (about 50,000 square miles) of bush, mainly in the country’s eastern states.… Seguir leyendo »
Cuando vuelva la temporada seca, la selva de la Amazonía arderá de nuevo, como todos los años. Por desgracia, esta vez será diferente. Los titulares internacionales del año pasado tomaron por sorpresa al presidente brasileño, Jair Bolsonaro, y a sus aliados. Con seguridad, tendrán preparados más trucos para dar respuesta a la próxima temporada de incendios. Es vital observar de cerca sus acciones.
La deforestación aumenta a un ritmo alarmante. Desde agosto de 2019 ha aumentado un 94 por ciento con respecto al año anterior, que ya había tenido el nivel más alto de deforestación en una década. A diferencia de las áreas más secas de Australia o California, en el bosque tropical no pueden originarse incendios a menos que los seres humanos talen árboles.… Seguir leyendo »
In the Old Testament, the Bible recounts the 10 Plagues of Egypt, disasters inflicted by God to force the Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. In the past few months, Australia has been forced to endure plagues of its own, afflicted with terrifying bush fires, drought and smoke pollution that choked the skies. Now, the emergence of a global pandemic feels very much like another plague lapping at our shores after the summer that destroyed so much.
As of Thursday, there were 5,133 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Australia. Most cases have been in returned travelers — people who have traveled by plane or been passengers on cruise ships — rather than from pockets of local transmission.… Seguir leyendo »
Australia arde como nunca desde que hay registros y lo hace reiteradamente desde octubre de 2019. Es cierto que habitualmente se queman millones de hectáreas a lo largo de su periodo estival, pero nunca sufrió incendios tan intensos y destructivos como los que arrasan los Estados de Nueva Gales del Sur y Victoria.
El fuego se mueve a velocidades de propagación increíbles, que superan las 10.000 hectáreas por hora durante periodos de 12 horas, y alcanzan intensidades térmicas equivalentes a casi 150 veces la bomba atómica de Hiroshima. Estas gigantescas intensidades térmicas e inusuales velocidades de propagación ya se dieron en los megaincendios forestales que describimos por primera vez en Chile y Portugal en 2017 que continuaron en Argentina, Sudáfrica y California en 2018 y en Bolivia y Siberia en 2019.… Seguir leyendo »
The 2019–20 fire season in Australia has been unprecedented. To date, an estimated 18 million hectares of fire has cut swathes through the bush – an area greater than that of the average European country and over five times the size of blazes in the Amazon.
This reflects previous predictions of Australian science. Since 2008 and as recently as 2018, scientific bodies have warned that climate change will exacerbate existing conditions for fires and other climatic disasters in Australia. What used to be once-in-a-generation fires now re-appear within 10–15 years with increased ferocity, over longer seasons.
In a country known for climate denial and division, debate has erupted around bushfire management and climate change.… Seguir leyendo »
Australia’s raging bushfires have already taken a great toll. At least 28 people have died this season, and more than 3,000 houses have been destroyed, displacing thousands of people and decimating communities.
The longest-lasting impact of the conflagration, however, may remain to be seen. We will not know how much environmental damage has been done until burned areas can be surveyed, but the toll on biodiversity is expected to be immense. Using average population density values for native birds, reptiles and terrestrial mammals, I have estimated that more than a billion of these animals have been killed. The estimate is conservative, as it does not include bats or other classes of vertebrate.… Seguir leyendo »
Australia is no stranger to bushfire. In 1994, in Sydney, I lost a house to one, and in 2002, just north of Sydney, I fought off another. But I’ve never experienced anything like the current fire season before. These bushfires have been burning since September, taking lives and property across the nation, but the worst came in late December, just as families were settling into their holidays.
The high summer period between Christmas and Australia Day (January 26) is Australia’s grandes vacances. Offices close and people resort to campsites and holiday shacks on the golden, unspoiled beaches so characteristic of our country, to fish, barbeque, and let the kids run wild.… Seguir leyendo »
Australia has been burning for more than two months. Sobering images show summer vacationers sheltering from the flames while awaiting rescue, the burned wreckage of homes and businesses, and the charred bodies of kangaroos and koalas. The fires are leading to political controversy over the Australian government’s refusal to acknowledge the climate change threat — and what Australia should do about it.
Climate change has contributed to the devastation
Australia’s landmass is nearly the size of the contiguous United States, and fires this year have consumed some 25 million acres — slightly less than the size of Indiana, and far more acreage than the devastating fires in California or Brazil last year.… Seguir leyendo »
On croirait l’apocalypse. Une catastrophe nationale est en train de se produire, qui, chaque jour, crée de nouveaux chocs. « Le ciel est en feu », « Une telle rapidité et une telle furie », « On dirait une zone de guerre ». Voilà quelques-unes des phrases employées pour saisir la violence des incendies par ceux qui les combattent.
Cela fait maintenant trois mois que le feu ravage des terres déjà grillées par la sécheresse et des arbres assoiffés par des vagues de chaleur précoces [l’été débute en décembre dans l’hémisphère Sud]. La surface de forêt rasée à ce jour est six fois supérieure à celle de la forêt amazonienne détruite pendant toute l’année 2019.… Seguir leyendo »
Every state in Australia has been touched by fire since the season started in September. The fires have burned over 12 million acres, an area larger than Maryland. Four hundred and eighty million animals are estimated to be killed or badly injured. Thousands of people have been evacuated. At least 24 have died.
This is just the midpoint of our normal fire season, which used to run from October to March but now is almost year round.
As I write this, my parents are living without power in an evacuation center in Narooma, a town of 2,600 people on the east coast of New South Wales.… Seguir leyendo »
Apocalyptic scenes are playing out across Australia as bushfires have burned millions of acres and ravaged more than 1,000 homes in New South Wales alone.
The bright orange haze may look like something out of a dystopic science fiction film -- or even Dante's Inferno -- but this is Australia's current reality. A total of 20 people have died, and the photographs of human suffering are foreboding: native Australians have poured out of smoke-shrouded towns as the flames creep nearer, while people along the coast have taken refuge on beaches.
These are scenes from an Earth that is becoming uninhabitable amid raging wildfires, severe hurricanes and floods, record droughts and rising sea levels that have already submerged islands.… Seguir leyendo »
I'm visiting my mother in the little country town where I grew up in Gippsland, a region of Australia that's currently on fire. That's not very specific, so let me narrow it down: I'm in one of the south-easternmost parts of Australia that is currently on fire.
Gippsland is a big area, roughly two New Jerseys. The closest fire is 50 miles away from us today, lending the sky a gray hue and the sun an orange tint. The official weather forecast is: "Mostly sunny but smoky."
People here keep one eye on their phones, watching the online maps that show flames slowing chewing their way through half a million hectares to the north and east, but there's no immediate danger.… Seguir leyendo »