Solutions for People, Animals and Environment
WellBeing News: Volume 2, Issue 1
January 2020
Australian Fires & Climate Change
For the past two months, the news has been full of stories about the fires in Australia. Australia has always had to deal with fires but recently they have been different in both magnitude and intensity. To date, with at least six weeks of fire season still to go in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and South Australia, over 8.5 million hectares have been scorched by fire (more than fifty times the area burnt by California's wildfires in 2019). In NSW alone, almost 5 million hectares have been burned. There have been only four years since 1970 when more than a million hectares burned in NSW (1974/5, 1984/5, 2001/2 and 2002/3). There have also been more pyrocumulonimbus clouds (thunderstorms generated by the fire when it is very hot and very intense) and fire tornados. Fires are unpredictable and each year brings a different range of fire hazards to Australia. But the fire season this year is, by all accounts, unprecedented. The fear is that it is a forerunner of a new normal as the globe heats up and parts of it dry out.

Australian Bushfires-Hell on Earth for People, but especially for Wildlife
By Michael Kennedy, AM (Member of the Order of Australia)

The Federal Government in Australia was warned by a group of ex-fire chiefs early in 2019 that the country was facing a potential fire disaster scenario that was in part due to the ongoing and significant effects of climate change. The group asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister on two occasions but were refused. They didn't get the chance to explain to a climate change denying government the need for an emergency plan essential to cope with a looming apocalypse.

What happened next has already found its way into the history books, and for all the wrong reasons. So far, some 10 million hectares (25 million acres) have burned in 5 states with estimates of wildlife deaths at 1 billion, though in all likelihood, it will be substantially more.

It has been an unmitigated ecological disaster on a scale that has yet to be fully appreciated... almost defying comprehension... every aspect of this environmental calamity is unprecedented.

Exhausted fire-fighters along the entire east coast of Australia are working under extreme conditions, while 28 have tragically lost their lives and thousands of homes have been lost. Similarly, wildlife rescuers, carers and rehabilitators are so utterly overwhelmed, facing multiple horrors and stresses that many are calling for psychological help.

Australian Bushfires and the Future

By David Hensher PhD FASSA ([email protected])

The summer fires in Australia mark a cataclysmic reminder that climate change is hurting our planet and that we need to recognise it and plan for a future that minimises the risk to humans and wildlife.

Photo by Dr. David Hensher. He drove for 45 minutes (40-50 miles) through a burnt landscape in the Blue Mountains, NSW.

As soon as the bushfires in Australia reached an emergency level in January, some relief occurred in the form of rain but not steady rain. Instead, we had storms accompanied by severe winds that resulted in floods and some property damage. We are seeing a growing variation in weather patterns which can, to some significant degree, be attributed to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. There have been many warnings over several decades and it is hoped that these recent catastrophic events will finally lead to recognition and action.
We can work our way out of this crisis and implement new policies leading to a manageable future. However, we will need strategic vision (doing the right things) and a tactical and operations plan (doing things right). Leadership from government at all jurisdictional levels is essential and should include a respect for the scientific expertise. Knee jerk reactions and denial of climate change are not going to enable us to adjust and manage our future. We need a new regulatory framework as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Support for Australian People, Animals and Environment
by Gary Tabor, VMD, Center for Large Landscape Conservation

The New York Times (19 January 2020) reported that Australia has shifted from being a donor country to a charitable recipient nation in the face of its current wildfire emergency. To make matters even worse, the wholesale burning of Australia's landscapes has set the country up for massive post-fire dust storms, record flooding levels as burned, denuded soils can no longer absorb moisture and recent devastating hailstorms. People, Places, and Platypuses have all succumbed to a nightmarish experience. In Tinbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra, there is currently an operation to remove all the platypuses and wombats from the reserve to minimize possible wildfire mortality.

April 1-3, 2020
WildCRU, University of Oxford, International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence
June 29 - July 2, 2020
ISAZ 2020, Liverpool, UK: One Health, One Welfare: Wellbeing for all in human-animal interactions.
August 23-27, 2020
11th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, Maastricht, The Netherlands
September 7-9, 2020
4th African Animal Welfare Conference will be held in Accra, Ghana. Additional information will appear on the conference website in 2020.
September 15-17, 2020
The 8th World Sustainability Forum, Geneva, Switzerland.
September 15-16, 2021
3rd One Welfare World Conference, Burgos, Spain. Check this website for updates.
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