[244] United Against Fire

While Australia is preparing for the hot and dry summer to come, California is bearing the consequences of an extreme hot and dry summer. The tremendous bush fires at the other side of the Pacific are a reminder of Australia’s last summer, as well as a potential prelude on the next one. However, for the Australian and Californian fire fighters the bush fire seasons seem to be a never-ending story. United they stand against fire.

By the end of August, with more than 7,000 fires started, and more than 1.6 million acres burned, Californian fire fighters plead their Australian colleagues for help. It wouldn’t be the first, nor the last time Australian fire fighters assisted their Californian colleagues. In 2018, 2015, and 2010 fire troops of Australia and New Zealand fought US’ bush fires.

In return, during Australia’s devastating bush fire season last year, American fire fighters came their Australian colleague to the rescue, as they had done in 2010. After decades of mutual support, Australia and the US signed an agreement to help each other out in bush fire emergencies in 2002.

Necessary, in a world where bush fires are increasing year after year. Prolonged droughts and heath waves make nature less resilient to bush fire and more prone to ignite. The trigger can be natural – such as lightning -, accidental or intentional; but what isn’t natural is the underlaying cause – the reason why our bushes take fire once a small spark is presented – which is human-made climate change.

The droughts, followed by the floods, the heath waves, followed by the intensified hurricanes. Year after year the weather gets extremer and while we can appoint a trigger for a certain event, it is the cause that must be addressed: climate change resulting from the use of fossil fuels.

If we cannot stop climate change from happening, we cannot stop the bush fires. While watching California burn, sending our men, and asking them to come us to the rescue, we must get serious on the cause, rather than the trigger or the symptoms. The best way to support fire fighters is by stopping climate change. United we stand against fire.

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