AUSTRALIA’S firefighting resources will come under increasing strain as climate change causes northern and southern hemisphere bushfire seasons to overlap, The Climate Council warned today.
Dozens of Australian firefighters have travelled to the United States to help fight more than 70 bushfires as the nation weathers one of its worst bushfire seasons in recent memory.
The Climate Council’s Professor Lesley Hughes said climate change was driving longer fire seasons in Australia, with fire weather extending into October and March.
“Much of Australia’s firefighting equipment is leased from firefighting agencies the Northern Hemisphere,” she said.
“As firefighting seasons lengthen and overlap with firefighting season in Australia, this arrangement could increasingly leave Australia unprepared.
“With the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre today warning large areas of southern Australia are facing above normal fire potential for the 2015/2016 fire season, this is very concerning.”
Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance spokesman Dean McNulty said firefighters were happy to help out their US colleagues but called on authorities to consider how the overlap in fire seasons might impact on operations.
“We’re very concerned about how severe the fire season has been in the U.S and the likelihood of similar conditions in Australia,” he said.
“There is a real need to consider these kinds of climate issues in our emergency management planning.
“We also need our government to support the firies who are doing the hard yards on the ground and do their fair share in cutting carbon pollution.”
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said cutting pollution was key to protecting Australians from worsening bushfire weather.
“We are watching the realities of a warming world unfold before our eyes. It is now very likely that we will smash temperature records again with the hottest year globally for the second year in a row,” she said.
“The increase in these record events underscores the importance of Australia’s emission reduction targets. Australia must make a strong contribution to the worldwide effort to halt climate change to protect Australians from worsening extreme weather events.”
The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded organization providing quality information to climate change to the Australian public.
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