Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Victoria Bush Fire

Last weekend's bush fire in Victoria turned out to be one of the worse bush fire we have ever faced. The week before, we have the record-breaking 4 consecutive days of temperature over 44C which basically fried every thing dry. On the day, we have a record breaking 46.6C with strong northern wind and single digit humidity. While some fires were spontaneous, unfortunately, the authority has identified cases where arsenic may be involved.

The damage and destruction was widespread. As shown in the photo above, whole towns were wiped out. At this point, there were 181 people confirmed dead, over 4000 people homeless, hundreds were in emergency units with burn, over 700 homes totally lost.

On a slightly brighter side, the Bush Fire Relief Fund set up by the Victoria Government together with Red Cross has already reached 28M and several fund raising efforts will be coming in next few days. Record number of people donated blood in the last few days.

Could this bush fire be avoided in the first place?

Scientists are now pointing the fingers towards the worsening weather pattern. While the southern part of Australia is extremely dry (drought for the last couple of years, Melbourne's water storage is at record low), there are flooding in the northern part of the continent (one month's worth of rain was dumped within days in Queensland). Extreme temperatures (two hot weather records were broken within two weeks) are expected to continue.

If we are to put a value to climate change, we now have a vivid case.

cross-posted to Sustaining Future

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