Australian Bushfires on a destruction spree, National Emergency declared

The leader of Australia’s eastern New South Wales state has declared a week-long state of National emergency, starting from 21:00 GMT on 30 January 2020. Further, troops are being prepared to evacuate some of the 4,000 people trapped by fires in neighbouring Victoria state. Amidst criticism for pulling a disappearing act during the crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeated his pleas to people, for not panicking and trusting emergency workers.

Crux of the Matter

As an area about the size of South Korea, which is 25.5 million acres approximately, has burned, this is a fightback response to the escalating bushfire threat. It would also allow the Rural Fire Service to carry out forced evacuations and road closures.

Since September, the Australian authorities have reported that the wildfires have killed 18 people and destroyed more than 1,200 homes across NSW and Victoria. Fresh numbers erupted this week with more than 17 people declared missing.

Meteorologists say a climate system in the Indian Ocean, known as the dipole, is the main driver behind the extreme heat in Australia. Additionally, many parts of the country have been in drought conditions for years, which may have made it easier for the fires to spread and grow.

According to Swiss-based group AirVisual, in the capital of Canberra, the air quality was rated worse than in any major global city last week. High temperatures and strong winds have been forecast for the week ahead that could lead to “widespread extreme fire danger”.

A naval vessel has arrived off the coastal town of Mallacoota, near the NSW border. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds tweeted that the HMAS Choules was in position. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has said that the ship would take up to 800 people and could do “multiple trips”.

Workers are busy clearing roads, restoring power, and conducting “backburning” operations to thin out bushland near fire fronts as NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has urged people to drive slowly amid thick smoke. Deliveries have been suspended in the city until further notice.

In the meantime, two regions of Western Australia (WA) are also facing catastrophic fire danger and parts of South Australia were expected to see extreme conditions in times ahead. Summer extends from December to February in Australia, with fire season typically peaking in late January or early February, so the disaster is expected to continue.


Bushfires in Australia are a widespread and regular occurrence that have contributed significantly to moulding the nature of the continent over millions of years. Eastern Australia is one of the most fire-prone regions of the world, and its predominant eucalyptus forests have evolved to thrive on the phenomenon of bushfire. However the blazes can cause significant property damage and loss of both human and animal life. Bushfires have killed approximately 800 people in Australia since 1851, and billions of animals. The most destructive fires are usually preceded by extreme high temperatures, low relative humidity and strong winds, which combine to create ideal conditions for the rapid spread of fire. Severe fire storms are often named according to the day on which they peaked, including the five most deadly blazes: Black Saturday 2009 in Victoria (173 people killed, 2000 homes lost); Ash Wednesday 1983 in Victoria and South Australia (75 dead, nearly 1900 homes); Black Friday 1939 in Victoria (71 dead, 650 houses destroyed), Black Tuesday 1967 in Tasmania (62 people and almost 1300 homes); and the Gippsland fires and Black Sunday of 1926 in Victoria (60 people killed over a two month period). Other major conflagrations include the 1851 Black Thursday bushfires, the 2006 December bushfires, the 1974-75 fires that burned up 15% of Australia, and the ongoing 2019–20 bushfires. In January 2020, it was estimated that over 1.25 billion animals have died in the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season. More Info

Siemens to Honor Deal of Adani's Controversial Coal Mine in Australia

German company Siemens has affirmed that it will honor its commitment made to India’s Adani Group. The Charmichael coal mine of Adani Group has been under the scope of controversy due to environmental concerns.

Crux of the Matter
  • Germany’s Siemens Mobility made an agreement with India’s Adani group to provide signaling technology for Adani’s coal mine in Queensland in Australia.
  • The coal mine has been criticized because excessive usage of coal leads to the release of large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a phenomenon that is adding to the worrisome global warming.
  • Siemens’ decision comes at a time when Australia is engulfed in bushfires.
  • Global environmental activists, including Greta Thunberg, criticized Siemens’ decision.
  • “While I do have a lot of empathy for environmental matters, I do need to balance different interests of different stakeholders, as long as they have lawful legitimation for what they do,” said Siemens’ CEO Joe Kaeser.
  • Environmentalists staged a protest against Seimens outside Seimens’ Munich headquarters.

Carmichael Coal Mines – The mine is proposed by Adani Mining, a wholly-owned subsidiary of India’s Adani Group. It has drawn immense controversy about its claimed economic benefits, its financial viability, plans for government subsidies and the damaging environmental impacts. Broadly, these have been described as its potential impact upon the Great Barrier Reef, groundwater at its site and its carbon emissions. The emissions from burning the amount of coal expected to be produced from this one mine, whether sourced from it or elsewhere, would, in a “worst-case” scenario be, approximately 0.53-0.56% of the carbon budget that remains after 2015. More Info

Australia Battling Massive Wildfires And Extreme Temperatures

Australia is facing scorching temperatures and out-of-control bushfires throughout the country, that increase the risk for pyrocumulonimbus clouds — also known as ‘fire clouds’. Every state in Australia has nearly crossed 40-degree celsius temperature.

Crux of the Matter
  • The fires in Australia are growing and have become so massive and powerful that they’re creating their own dangerous weather phenomenon. It is happening through the formation of “pyrocumulonimbus” clouds — what NASA calls ‘the fire-breathing dragon of clouds.’ These fire-induced storms bring little rain but are packed with lightning that can spark new fires.
  • Pyro-cumulonimbus clouds have developed to altitudes over 16km in East Gippsland 
  • Temperatures near Sydney have nearly reached 44 degrees celsius.
  • In the town of Mallacoota, around 4,000 residents fled toward the beachside as winds pushed an emergency-level wildfire towards their homes.
  • Many communities have cancelled New Year’s fireworks celebrations, but Sydney’s popular display over its iconic harborfront has not been cancelled.
  • Across the state of Victoria over 2,00,000 hectares of land has already been burnt in the fires.
  • More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed since the blazes began in September. At least 2,000 firefighters are currently battling the fires.
  • NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, “We’ve got some deteriorating weather conditions over the coming days.”
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “We are expecting more difficult news out of New South Wales and Victoria today as the assessments are undertaken of the terrible fires from yesterday and last night.”

The cumulonimbus flammagenitus cloudalso known as the pyrocumulonimbus cloud is a type of cumulonimbus cloud that forms above a source of heat, such as a wildfire, and may sometimes even extinguish the fire that formed it. The CbFg was named following the discovery in 1998, that extreme manifestations of this pyroconvection caused direct injection of large abundances of smoke from a firestorm into the lower stratosphere. It is the most extreme manifestation of a flammagenitus cloud. According to the American Meteorological Society’s Glossary of Meteorology, a flammagenitus is ‘a cumulus cloud formed by a rising thermal from a fire, or enhanced by buoyant plume emissions from an industrial combustion process.’ More Info

$184 Million Infrastructure Package for Rural Communities in Australia

Critical infrastructure upgrades that improve connectivity for rural and remote communities in Austalia’s Northern Territory will be brought forward under a $184 million package.

Crux of the Matter
  • The Liberal and Nationals Government in Australia has been working with states and territories to bring forward critical infrastructure projects across Australia to drive jobs, strengthen the economy and get people home sooner and safer.
  • The projects, which include the Outback Way, the Mango Industry Roads upgrades in Litchfield, and upgrades along the Adelaide River to Wadeye road corridor will provide better and more reliable freight links, and keep drivers safer on the Territory’s roads.
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said delivering critical road projects sooner, as part of a $100 billion pipeline, the $184 million package was a key part of the Government’s plan for a stronger economy.
  • The Australian Government is investing heavily in key roads across the Territory that are vital to improved safety and supporting the economy through improved connectivity to the regions and to our markets.
  • “These projects will benefit the Territory’s economy by improving regional freight roads such as the Mango Industry Roads in Litchfield, as well as improving the quality of life for Territorians, including the many Indigenous communities, that live in remote regions of the Northern Territory”, according to Northern Territory Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Eva Lawler.

Project Funding: for upgrades on the Alice Springs to Darwin road corridor, including the Mango Industry Roads upgrades in Litchfield; Funding to flow immediately and over the next three years after previously being allocated beyond the forward estimates. The Australian Government contribution to the project is $43.5 million and the Northern Territory Government contribution is $10.8 million ($54.3 million brought forward).
$37.5 million for upgrades on the Outback Way

More Info