Wildfires Threaten Australia’s Capital

“It may become uncontrollable.”

Rick Rycroft/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

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.”

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.