Almost 400 scientists are making a desperate plea to politicians in Australia. They’re begging the government to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country and abroad too.
The urgent call comes as devastating bushfires continue to tear through Australia. A changing climate and extreme drought conditions have made controlling the blazes nearly impossible.
‘Tragic’ doesn’t even begin to describe this crisis. Here’s a look at the most up to date numbers from Reuters:
- Since September, 33 people and an estimated 1 billion animals have been killed.
- Thousands of homes have been destroyed.
- More than 11.7 million hectares (45,175 square miles) of land have been razed.
“The Science Is Clear”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been heavily criticized for his government’s inaction when it comes to climate change. To date, he has refused to raise targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The open letter, signed by 374 scientists from around the world (as of Monday), claims experts have been warning for three decades how climate change will worsen Australia’s fire risk.
And here we are.
The group is demanding that drastic measures be taken to move toward net-zero emissions by 2050.
Greater efforts are needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which is part of the Paris Agreement.
Current global emission reductions aren’t enough, and Australia’s emissions per person are close to being the highest in the world.
If a significant shift doesn’t happen, the scientists say conditions will worsen.
“Observed changes in Australian climate and fires, including the 2019/20 fire crisis, have confirmed scientific warnings that human-caused climate warming is virtually certain to increase the duration, intensity and frequency of fires in southeast Australia.
“These trends will continue to worsen with ongoing climate warming and changes in extreme weather phenomena, making fire management increasingly challenging.”
Morrison hasn’t responded to the urgent letter presented on Monday.
But at the end of January, he talked about ways to support hazard reduction burns, including shaming states that don’t complete required reductions.
A hazard reduction burn is a controlled fire set intentionally to reduce the severity of future bushfires.
The main benefit is to reduce the amount of fuel on the ground in forests, grasslands, and bushlands.
For more on Australia’s bushfires and tips for gardening through drought: