The Fire Down-Under

The Fire Down-Under


Bushfires are not a new phenomenon in Australia. The aboriginals from the continent have adapted the annual bushfires that spontaneously start across the vastness of Australia at the start of every dry season. In fact, the flora and fauna of Australia has adapted over the last 20 million years to survive, and indeed thrive in the bushfires like the Banksia plant, the Eucalyptus tree and even the Australian whistling kite, a bird that drops burning twigs in grassy scrub to start fires that scare animals into running straight in the bird’s talons.

To address this disparity is why the UN deemed it necessary to label food as a fundamental right. Moreover, agricultural practices with an emphasis on sustainability along with sustainable rural development and societal sustainable development are study topics that aim to end this disparity and ensure that all humans can avail the most basic of their fundamental rights, the right to nourishment.

But the situation has changed over the last hundred years, with the start of Australia’s colonization. Annually thousands of hectares burn in bush fires with particularly fierce ones that break out every decade or so, depending on the severity of the heat and the dryness in the air. The tragic 2019 – 2020 Australian bushfire burnt down more than 18 million hectares of bush, killing over a billion organisms in the process. But it is not the most severe one, in fact, it is the seventh worse bushfire in Australia, with the worst one being the 1974 bushfire which burnt down more than 117 million hectares of bush. To make matters worse, Australia is a reluctant signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and thus has very little inclination to redress the massive amounts of co2 and co that the bushfires release in our common atmosphere every year.

These are tragically man made and not natural owing to a variety of factors such as extensive farmlands, rampant ecological damaging, a propensity to plant the highly flammable eucalyptus trees and an ignorance of the delicate nature of the relationship between man and nature. Fortunately, the new global interest in sustainability and ecological balance could not come at a better time, which educates how to go about achieving a balance between man and nature for the detriment of neither, but the advantage of both.