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Australia faces Record-Breaking climate change

Queensland, Australia ablaze as firefighters struggle to put out wild bushfires engulfing local forests. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Carly O’Neill
Associate News Editor

Extreme weather conditions including raging bushfires in northern New South Wales, to a monsoon flooding in Queensland has been the source of Australia’s rapid climate change. In January of 2019, Australia found itself in a heat wave, breaking temperature records.

According to CNN, “New South Wales broke 14 heat records and eight January records. Conditions are so hot in the state that asphalt roads are starting to melt” In northwestern Australia, the town of marble Bar hit the highest temperature during the heatwave thus far at a high of 120 degrees fahrenheit.

Due to the extreme heat, New South Wales health authorities warned that the high temperatures are expected to contribute to “high ozone” air pollution across Sydney, affecting people with respiratory problems. This is the second heatwave to strike Australia within less than a month, when the country was battling extreme bushfires in late 2018.

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According to The Guardian, “Paul Gray, a representative of the Queensland Firefighters’ Union, says the nature of bushfires has noticeably changed in recent years. The fires, he says, have become more intense and longer-lasting.” Parts of Queensland were even classified as “catastrophic” due to the intense weather conditions.

Ketam Joshi has a science degree from Sydney University, and now works in the field of data science communications. Joshi tweeted out on Nov. 26, 2018 “Australia, literally on fire”.

In northern New South Wales, firefighters are working hard to contain the bushfires. The NSW Rural Fire Service has confirmed the blaze has now destroyed twenty-two homes, and damaged fifteen. Firefighting crews from Queensland were being brought in to assist with the damage, and waterbombing aircraft were working relentlessly to manage the fires.

Currently throughout north-west Queensland people are facing flooding devastation and the massacre of hundreds of thousands of domestic livestock. “It dumped an unprecedented 1.4 metres of rain in less than two weeks – roughly double what falls on London in a year,” The Guardian reported.

The aftermath of the flooding has demolished homes and wracked up hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to property. This is causing homes to become uninsurable or not eligible for insurance coverage. Climate Valuation, which advises the property and finance industry, has stated that homes are now at risk of finding flood coverage too expensive or difficult to obtain.

The excessive rain has caused Queensland’s longest river, the Flinders to experience vast flooding. The federal weather agency said, that it is creating “its own weather,” helping to trigger a thunderstorm Thursday, Feb. 14, according to The Washington Post.

The Bureau of Meteorology of Queensland currently has several flood warnings/watches posted on their website.

Due to Australia’s hostile summer, recent bushfires, and flooding extremes, panic has stirred among its citizens who worry if the weather is directly linked to climate change. They are pushing for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the main priority at this year’s federal election, The Guardian reports.