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Australia holds national bush fire, climate summit online

Australia on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 held a national summit online to examine the country’s worsening bush fire conditions amid challenges brought by climate change.

Australian bushfires
Fire and Rescue personal run to move their truck as a bushfire burns next to a major road and homes on the outskirts of the town of Bilpin on December 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Photo credit: David Gray/Getty Images

Scientists, ex-defense officials, indigenous experts and climate activists all spoke in a virtual public panel discussion, organised by Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, a coalition of former fire and emergency chiefs.

According to the organiser, Greg Mullins, the summit is because of the unprecedented bush fire season in December, out of deep concern over the federal government’s failure to address it and climate crisis.

“Between August and March, bush fires burned more than 12 million hectares of Australia, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and killed 33 people across six of the country’s eight states and territories.

“Also, the smoke due to the fires caused air quality to plummet and killed hundreds of people,“ Mullins said.

The former Head of California Fire Department in the U.S., said fires were burning in places where nobody thought would be possible.

He also said that due to the longer fire seasons, often year-round now, the fire departments were facing challenges over limited resources.

The former Head of Defence Department’s preparedness, Cheryl Durrant, said the military sees climate change as a threat multiplier.

“Climate change is creating multiple flashpoints where conflict could occur in the future,” she said.

Also, a climate science professor at Macquarie University, Lesley Hughes, said the governments were very good at listening to the scientists on COVID-19 pandemic.

“If only they’d been doing that with climate science as well, the issues surrounding climate change would have been reduced to its barest minimum,” she said.

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