Wildfires Threaten Australia’s Capital

“It may become uncontrollable.”

Rick Rycroft/AP

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The historic and deadly wildfires that have engulfed Australia since September continue to rage, with residents living in and around the national capital city of Canberra bracing for more devastation. Local officials have declared a state of emergency, the first in 17 years, for the entire capital territory.

So far, the Australian bush fires have killed 33 people, destroyed thousands of homes, and burned 26.2 million acres of land. International media has been flooded with pictures of blazing fires and wind as people and animals alike seek refuge. As Mother Jones‘ Will Peischel reported last month, the fires have been fueled by the global climate crisis:

Since September, the combination of soaring temperatures and a severe drought has triggered wildfires across Australia that have enveloped more than six times the land burned during California’s devastating 2018 wildfire season. The current blazes encompass an area about the size of Scotland and have released an estimated 200 million tons of carbon dioxide—equivalent to about 40 percent of the country’s annual average carbon emissions—into the atmosphere above the state of New South Wales, where the fires have been the most devastating. With more than 100 separate fires still burning, the end isn’t anywhere in sight. Some estimates have wildfires continuing for months into 2020.

Area residents are being warned of deadly risks.

 

“This fire may become very unpredictable,” Andrew Barr, the chief minister of Australia’s capital territory, said in a statement. “It may become uncontrollable.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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