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The 2019-2020 bushfire season is shaping up to be the worst in Australian history.

By the numbers:

* >100 different fires
* >30,000 people forced to evacuate
* >2,500 buildings destroyed
* 5.9 million hectares destroyed (that's ~1.8 million hectares larger than Switzerland)
* ~480 million mammals, birds and reptiles lost
* at least human 27 lives lost

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My own state of South Australia has suffered devastating losses in the Adelaide Hills region, with 30% of vineyards completely wiped out.

Smoke from the east coast fires has crossed the Tasman Sea, and is now blanketing New Zealand:

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As usual, our amazing volunteer firies are risking their lives on the front line:


The US and Canada have sent some of their own firefighters to help. Australian military forces have been deployed in some areas.


In the midst of the tragedy, some amazing stories of courage and community spirit:

A New South Wales South Coast man has been hailed a "local hero" for ferrying stranded campers to safety on his boat, forced to watch as his own house burnt down.

While fleeing the approaching firestorm on Tuesday, Lake Conjola resident Brett Cripps, 51, noticed tourists stuck on the shore near their caravans.

"I knew I had to help. I yelled out, 'come on, you've got to get out of here'," Mr Cripps told the ABC.

He loaded two families onto his 5-metre boat, including seven children aged from three to 10, and whisked them away from the oncoming flames and to the centre of the lake.

(Source).

The entire town of Mallacoota was evacuated to a local beach.

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A Mallacoota mother, whose photo of her 11-year-old son fleeing bushfires has been splashed across news websites and front pages, says she had no idea how much impact it would have when she took the photo.

Allison Marion took the photo of her son Finn driving a boat to safety after the sky in the far-east Victorian seaside town turned blazing red on Tuesday.

The striking image of Finn showed him steering the boat as it carried Allison, her other son Caleb and the family dog, away from the shore of the popular holiday spot to shelter on Goodwin Sands.

(Source).

We've had an ongoing heatwave for several weeks now. It's currently 43°C here in South Australia; we hit 46°C last week.

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Caporegime
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Obviously, I'm here in the UK and he's there being toasted, but the government response feels woefully inadequate.

It is, and the PM is getting absolutely hammered for it. Unfortunately this is not an election year, so he seems to think he can just ride out the storm. Incredible arrogance, and a shocking failure of leadership.

The country has been on fire for two months.

Even longer than that, the fires started in August.
 
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What exactly is he meant to do about the fires?

He was asked to provide more money and resources for the fire crews fighting the bushfires. He refused, and took a secret holiday to Hawaii (which the media subsequently exposed).

He returned to Australia and offered a grudging apology, but still refused to provide the necessary support that our firies so desperately need.

He eventually visited some of the stricken areas, where he managed to enrage all the locals:


Yesterday, as tens of thousands were evacuated, he spent his time at Kirribilli House (the secondary official residence of the Australian PM) entertaining the Australian and New Zealand cricket teams.

His party has been in power since 2013, during which time they have consistently refused to take action against climate change, which has been a substantial contributing factor to the current bushfires.

Some of these fires are now so large that they are generating their own weather systems, causing bursts of dry lightning that ignite even more bushland beyond the usual reach of the fire.

Morrison's leadership on this issue has been so bad that even his own party is starting to criticise him for it.
 
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But there must be a reason he's PM, can't be a fluke.

Morrison is PM because he won the party leadership spill. We don't vote our prime ministers into office, we vote for their party, just like the UK.

How did people vote him in and why are they constantly voting in people that are incompetent.

He's in a safe seat popupated by die hard party supporters, he could spit on somebody's grandmother and they'd still vote for him.

I didn't know the details, holiday, lack of funding etc. Are these fires controllable even with unlimited resources or do they just have to burn themselves out?

Some of these fires are beyond control, but most would be containable if the resources were available.
 
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Some additional context:

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'Scotty from Marketing' is the national nickname for Scott Morrison, our lame duck prime minister. He has also been called 'the supply teacher Prime Minister.'
 
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You cannot jsut say that without evidence, at what cost?

Some of these blazes are so big that even if we had an insane amount of money they still could not be controlled because we just don't have the necessary manpower or technology. There is no fire fighting equipment on this planet that can simply 'control' or extinguish a fire spanning 350,000 hectares (864,868 acres).

The fires that can be controlled, are being controlled. They could be controlled a lot faster if the resources were available.

£1 mil and I agree wtf happened why were the resources not there.. Or did it need £1 trillion?

The resources were not there because we have a conservative government which has decided that firefighting resources are not a priority. They're too busy giving tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry.

Would the people be happy to pay double taxes for fire defences (i don't have a clue if it would be 1% more tax or 500%)

We wouldn't even need to pay double taxes, it would cost the government a relatively trivial amount to fund the resources that are needed.

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Under Julia Gillard's Labour government we had a carbon tax. It wasn't perfect, but it was working. The Liberals scrapped it as soon as they came to power.

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Hundreds of thousands of people have evacuated their homes

Tens of thousands, but yeah.

@Evangelion I've not been following the story much, I don't follow much news nowadays. Are you guys getting support from other countries? I'd have thought that NZ at the very least would be able to mobilize some tankers to help with dousing?

The US and Canada have sent some of their firies to help. That's all we've had so far. NZ is 4,000 km away and there's an entire sea between us, so it would take them too long to send tankers. Would be nice if they could fly out some firies though.

I'd have thought that Japan would be all over this too tbh. Your PM is a ***** anyway, at least he'll be out when next month's PM comes in.

:D
 
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If they have so much bio mass on the floor, why dont they have vacuum excavator and use it in bio fuel power plants. Surely a company could make a killing?

You'd think so, but although the Australian government has been pouring money into biofuel R&D for some time, the private sector shows little interest in pursuing this technology even though the ROI is comparable to wind farms and even some fossil fuels.

The carbon tax, or absence of one, makes absolutely no difference to whether these bush fires will or will not occur. Nor would it have any effect on their severity.

Nor does the amounts of CO2 that Australia generates, or doesn't generate.

I never claimed that it did. But global climate change has certainly aggravated the severity of the weather conditions that support and trigger extreme fire behaviour. Changing Australia's CO2 output alone won't make much of a difference; it has to be an international goal.

At the extreme, Perhaps if less money had been spent on irrelevant and pointless attempts to control the weather, more might have been available to fund damage control.

Absolute nonsense. No Australian government has been spending money on 'irrelevant and pointless attempts to control the weather.' There was always money available to fund damage control, the government simply refused to spend it.

Now I say the following to hopefully but proven truly wrong. But does anyone else feel that the worlds response in aid and help has been a bit crap?

Yeah, you'd think that a catastrophic fire event significantly larger than the one that hit the Amazon might spur a few countries into action, but apparently not.
 
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Smoke from the fires, seen from a plane:

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Is there data to back this up

Australia's fire services have suffered cuts for years, and they consistently warned that these cuts would make it much harder to do their job properly. They were right.

there's also a lack of fresh water I believe and you can't use sea water as salt ruins the land?

Correct on both counts.
 
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Yeh but apart from fire breaks what can you do?

In a nutshell:

* infrastructure
* equipment
* staff

They pollute more per person than the yanks. Maybe these fools should stop burning coal.

We've been telling our conservative government this for years, but they won't listen because they're in bed with the fossil fuel industry.
 
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A Facebook fundraiser has hit $20 million so far.

Such as what equipment, give me some real life examples, more fire beaters?

LOL fire beaters, I can tell you know nothing about bushfires.

Equipment such as:

* water bombing planes (these things cost $2.5 million a year each to lease)
* fire engines & tankers
* SSPE
* fire retardant foam
* hoses

The list goes on and on, I could be here all day.
 
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What's the endgame here, Evangelion? When does this stop? NZ news is basically re-reporting Aussie news and they have their hands full too.

It ends when it ends, there's no time frame in sight because the biggest fires are simply too big to stop. We're only at the start of summer, so the weather will get even worse before it gets better.

This is the situation on Kangaroo Island here in South Australia:

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As you can see, roughly 30% of the island is on fire.

'Kangaroo Island fires continue as locals count cost of damage to infrastructure, animals.'

About 170,000 hectares, or a third of the island, has burned so far.

Two men — Dick Lang and his son Clayton Lang — died on the Playford Highway on Friday.

The fires started on Kangaroo Island on December 20 but they spread rapidly on Friday when the temperature in Parndana topped 39 degrees Celsius and winds reached up to 80 kilometres per hour.
 
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The Government have no considered response as to when this will stop

Not really. Even though these fires have been burning since August, it's still too early to say when they can be brought under control.

or what they're doing to stop it?

The government's current plan is 'Just keep doing what we're doing, while spending as little as possible on it.' Which is not surprising, since the current administration is a conservative one with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry.

What info is being shared with you, as a potentially affected person?

Heaps. I have can get all the info I need from the CFS website: https://www.cfs.sa.gov.au/site/home.jsp

How common is sustained rainfall at this time of year, Evangelion?

Incredibly rare.

Is there much chance of a day or two of rain?

A little. We've already had some, but it wasn't enough to have a significant impact. Some rain is predicted for Gippsland, but they're not expecting more than 15mm or so. It should help to cool the area and put some moisture back in the air, but it's not going to put out any fires.
 
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This is what I have been saying yet I'm being called an idiot by people like mangolia. People blaming their PM as if something he can do about it.

Absolute nonsense. He can do something about it, he's repeatedly been asked to do something about it, and he's repeatedly refused. Now at long last he's throwing out a few bones for good optics, but it's too little too late.

Your refusal to address the facts is utterly obscene. I'm sitting here watching my country burn to the ground, and you're pretending the PM can't do anything about it.

I assumed the anger was that little was done to prevent the fires taking hold in the first place

The anger is primarily about lack of resources for firefighting services, and the government's consistent refusal to address climate change, which has enabled these fires to start earlier and burn more furiously than ever before.

and that communities have all but been abandoned without even any real attempt to save them.

I can assure you that every community that was capable of being saved was saved, and in the case of the communities that were lost, everything that could be done was done. Our firies always defend towns as vigorously as possible, and only leave when they can do no more.
 
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Could sea water be used to create a break in the fire in places? I know salt is not good for the ground but maybe worth it in some of these cases? Lesser of evils etc?

Or is it all just too massive now? With no gaurentee that other fires might not start on the other sides?

Awful.

The biggest question is how you'd get it there. When you're talking about the inland areas, that's a long way to ferry water. Fresh stuff from local sources is quickest. And yes, the salt would completely screw up the topsoil, which is already a nationwide problem in Australia, so we don't want to make it any worse.


This is a NASA composite image (not a photo from the ISS) showing all areas hit by the fires between 05.12.19-05.01.20. So when you look at it, keep in mind that most of these fires are out; they are not current.
 
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