As this is being written, reports indicate that the worst is yet to come for the people of Australia, whose land literally is burning up all around them.
The apocalyptic images of families being driven from their homes, wearing face masks and eye goggles because of the acrid smoke that is darkening the daytime sky, and then being evacuated by boat from the beaches, are something out of a science fiction film.
But now, in 2020, reality has caught up with science fiction.
The Australian bush fires are the apex of what has been a sad, sad year for our planet. The Australian fires already have destroyed about 15 million acres — an area almost as large as West Virginia, more than triple the area destroyed by the 2018 fires in California, and six times the size of the fires last summer in the Amazon.
The fires not only have rendered large areas of the continent uninhabitable for humans, but they also have killed incredible numbers of wildlife — some reports estimate half a billion creatures have perished — threatening some species with extinction.
The bush fires have killed 24 persons and are causing health issues for every person in their path, especially those with existing lung diseases. The air quality in Canberra, the capital city, on New Year’s Day was the worst in the world thanks to the smoke cloud that is as wide as Europe and now envelops much of the Australian continent.
The problems attendant to the bush fires are not confined to Australia. New Zealand, which is more than 1200 miles across the ocean, is enduring toxic air pollution levels. In addition, the carbon that is being released by the burning of the bushland will increase even further the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere that are the principal cause of global warming and climate change.
The influence of a changing climate is now evident in each day’s global weather pattern, according to a study published last week in Nature Climate Change.
The study employed a new technique to analyze daily patterns of temperature and moisture across the globe. It found that the locations of above and below average temperature and moisture have been distinct from natural variations on every single day for almost a decade.
The bottom line is simply this: The world is getting hotter day-by-day and therefore bringing a dramatic change to our climate and environment. Some things, such as the massive fires in Australia, are dramatic and noticeable. Others, such as the gradual melting of the glaciers, are subtle, but their effects on the degradation of the planet are just as devastating. It should be apparent to every thinking person that we are getting very close to a point of no return in terms of climate change. However, with governments across the globe in the hip pockets of the special interests who are opposed to the drastic measures that are needed to prevent further degradation of the environment, it is difficult to be optimistic about the future of our planet.