We Jus' a Seh: A whole continent is going up in smoke. WYD?

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“Mercy, mercy me

Things ain't what they used to be, no no

Where did all the blue skies go?

Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east

Mercy, mercy me

Things ain't what they used to be, no no

Radiation underground and in the sky

Animals and birds who live nearby are dying”

The 1971 hit, “Mercy, Mercy' by Marvin Gaye was a beckoning call to action to the society about the human-induced pall that had been cast upon the environment. If back in 1971, the environmental struggle was at a staggering altitude, then 2020 should be no surprise that it has reached the zenith of a debilitating life line.

An entire continent is literally on fire! Scorched joeys, sun kissed kangaroos (not in a good way) and an entire ecological massacre reeks the nation of Australia. The root to this Dante's Inferno on earth, happens to be the massive forest fires that have been taking place since late last year. However, Mother Earth burns even more furiously since the start of the new year.

Now, forest fires are nothing new to Australia. In fact, each year preparations are made to mitigate this phenomenon, but since late last year straight into this year, these forest fires have been the most abnormal and uncontrollable to date.

The year 2019 was where everything went down under. Australia was marked with the hottest temperature in December and increased by one degrees Celsius to date. Imagine, with just that slight temperature increase, an entire population of both man and creature succumb to the scorching flames and clinging for life!

Unfortunately, scientists say that this is bound to increase in the coming years.

The forest fires, which usually occur because of lightning strikes, are just one variable in the equation, with prolonged droughts, extreme heat and strong winds being the other elements. The latter plays an essential role in spreading the offspring of destruction everywhere because wind speeds of 60 miles per hour spread the flames across provinces and cities.

So far 1,200 homes have been destroyed, around 20 people have been reported dead, and 5.5 million acres (13.5 million acres of land) have been engulfed by the stoking flames, in New South Wales alone.

'Down Under' has always been labelled for its diverse and unique flora and fauna, and being home to wildlife and creatures that are perhaps only natives to its outbacks, stretching to its shores.

The fires have managed to conquer 480 million animals, and one-third of the koalas' habitats have been destroyed. The air quality, with the stench of gases, has become so unbearable that the remaining animals can only hope to be rescued and ushered to safety.

The gruesome statistics emphasize the severity of these fires. In one report, 14.7 million acres of land have been charred in six states altogether. The striking comparison to that of the size of Haiti and Belgium combined was made.

While you read this article, thousands more animals are being eaten alive by the flames, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, and thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. A plethora of health issues are indicative of the catastrophes caused by these fires, but also the changing climate.

What conversation would this be without the topic of Climate Change?

The fires have stained the skies red and birthed heavy crimson clouds all the way to New Zealand. The winds continue to blow smoke, flames and scatter the terrains and due to climate change. The conditions are far from light. While we can curse the scourge of climate change, we must admit the fact that humankind must be blamed. A closer look must be taken at political malpractice, and in the pursuit of ecological justice, we must hold the government responsible.

Limping kangaroos, suffocating alpacas, and every koala with a fried paw or cadaver has fallen - all the bloodshed should be rightly placed on the government of Australia. In an attempt to assuage the economic purse of the nation, many environmental legislation that have been passed were actually struck down by the government. The country's coal industry acts as a major supply of revenue.

Several calls to mitigate the amount of waste and fumes have been promulgated, with the government turning Bartimaeus on its people. To make matters worse, the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index rated Australia as one of the worst performers among 57 high-emitters, with it earning 0 out of 100 possible points for its policies, according to Reuters.com. Granted, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dedicated a $1.39 billion fund to rebuild, with $347 million to be dispersed for this year. It is an action that people can appreciate, but many of the casualties could have been mitigated with even more robust eco-steps that could have been taken, and should now be, priority.

As the nation chokes and the international pressure on the government to grasp the hands of rationality, they have done nothing to clean up their act. The Paris Agreement basically tells huge carbon emitters to lessen their waste so that the environment can be safer and better, and as a signatory, you ought to abide by the rules. Here it is quite the opposite.

One professor said the fires are so bad, that places that were never once affected have now been set ablaze. He believes that Australia is so unprepared that people will have to flee to the other cities-which could lead to overcrowding.

In short, the government has been lax, rather an understatement truth be told, about its environmental policies and has flouted its presence in the diplomatic sphere. What will the people and animals of Australia do? Sit and stifle while being fed the prosaic banter of political sycophants as the earth burns?

Australia has truly gone down under!

--Tamoy Campbell



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