AUSTRALIANS ARE FACING increasingly dangerous bushfire seasons that are starting earlier and lasting longer as a result of intensifying climate change.
The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018 released today by the Bushfires and Natural Hazards CRC, indicates that southeast Australia, particularly along the eastern coast and hinterlands, could be hit the hardest due to the devastating drought conditions gripping much of the region. States in the firing line for a more severe bushfire season this year include; New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, southern Western Australia and Queensland.
Climate Councillor and former New South Wales Fire and Rescue Commissioner, Greg Mullins said that this outlook is one of the most severe he has ever seen and major fires are almost inevitable in those states already dealing with devastating, prolonged drought conditions.
"Drought conditions are exacerbating an already abnormal fire season and could lead to catastrophic conditions for much of Southern Australia," he said.
"Just last month we saw the NSW Rural Fire Service declare the earliest fire danger period on record across a series of local government areas in New South Wales, and houses were lost during serious bushfires on August 15."
"Australians and their homes are at serious risk and these worsening bushfire conditions are putting our firefighters under huge amounts of pressure, and stretching their capacity to respond. Inaction on climate change comes at a cost."
"Firefighters are on the frontline of climate change. They have already been battling abnormal bushfires throughout winter and there is a weary realisation that this is simply the new norm," said Mullins.
Climate Councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes said almost 100% of New South Wales has been drought-declared and we've experienced record-breaking maximum temperatures across most of the country already this year.
"This is part of long-term warming trend, driven by rising greenhouse gas pollution, which in Australia's case has been consistently increasing over the last three years," said Professor Hughes.
"Without strong and swift action on climate change, bushfires will continue to intensify and everyday Australians, their homes, health and livelihoods will be at increasing risk."