mallacoota, victoria, two days ago. it's 9:20am, and the sky is pitch black. the sun is not visible - the glow in the upper left is from a light. it's 50 degrees celsius (122F). 4,000 people are gathered on the beach, trying to avoid the fires.
up until recently, the volunteer firefighters were unpaid. there are not enough firefighters to control the bushfires, so many have left their jobs to try to save lives.
the morrison government announced that firefighters would be paid up to $300 per day for their service, totalling at $6000. twenty days.
there are 18 confirmed deaths and 17 known missing people. over 1500 homes have been destroyed. over 4,800,000 animals have died, including 30% of new south wales' koala population. two volunteer firefighters have died. all while prime minister scott morrison was holidaying in hawaii.
note that the data in the image is outdated - the figures have since gotten much worse.
these two photos were taken six minutes apart.
the air quality in canberra (australia's capital) is currently the worst of any city in the world. all australia post deliveries to and from canberra have been suspended. hospital equipment such as MRI machines have had to be shut down to avoid damage. an elderly woman arriving in canberra airport from brisbane (where the fires aren't nearly as bad) died in the airport before ambulances could arrive due to respiratory issues.
a reference point for americans - from 2000 to 2018, the california fires burned an average of 300,000 hectares of land, and a total of 5,727,000 hectares.
the australian bushfires have burned nearly double that - 10,800,000 hectares - and are still going.
the australian bushfires started in august, and they've already burned nearly double the area of the past eighteen years of californian fires combined.
disinformation is unavoidable in the modern era. research conducted by the queensland university of technology found that the role of arsonists has been heavily exaggerated by social media, and there are posts claiming things from environmentalists blocking controlled burns to the fires being a coordinated effort by the islamic state.
rupert murdoch's news corp publications (which comprise the majority of australian newspaper and magazine media) have further spread some of this misinformation, particularly the claims that the greens and arsonists are to blame.
firefighters have had to step in and clear up the confusion intentionally created by the media, fighting against the misinformation that the greens are trying to ban hazard reduction burns:
"Political parties of any denomination do NOT influence [our] decisions [...] when choosing when and how to do Hazard Reduction burns. [...] The main reason Hazard Reduction burns are cancelled or delayed is [to] make it safe for firefighters, native flora and fauna and obviously you wonderful people."
a brief summary:
- the bushfires in australia have burned over 10,800,000 hectares of land, nearly double the area of the past eighteen years of californian fires combined
- the air quality in canberra (australia's capital) is the worst of any city in the world, causing a woman to die of respiratory issues in the airport before ambulances could arrive
- the morrison government is completely negligent, making infuriatingly naive comments about the cricket and asking for donations to the liberal party in a time of national crisis
- the murdoch owned media is spreading misinformation, pinning the blame on arsonists and the greens instead of acknowledging the true causes
- 28 people and millions of animals have died, either from the fires directly or from smoke inhalation
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