Bush fires are nothing new to Australia. Each year, they experience “bushfire season”, which takes place throughout the entire summer. This year, however, the bush fires have been particularly devastating, with more than 11 million hectares, or 2.7 million acres, of land burnt, destroying thousands of houses, and killing dozens of civilians and firefighters. The root cause of this disaster has been identified as the prolonged drought, as well as extremely high temperatures.
A point of controversy that presided over the course of this disaster has been the Prime Minister’s nonchalant reaction. Towards the beginning of the crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was away on holiday in Hawaii, but after his return, he did little to address the underlying environmental causes of the issue. When asked to set in place policies to curb carbon emissions by limiting fossil fuels, natural gas in favor of renewable resources, he dismissed the notion as unnecessary. This entire event is a perfect example of the government’s lackluster approach to admitting real progress: an issue that is equally prevalent elsewhere.
Climate change is a well-established risk that threatens the welfare of the earth. Yet, despite the ever-increasing attention placed on the importance of sustainability, governments, like that of Australia, are insufficient in their approaches to address the issue. Australia has adopted better climate policies over the years, being more proactive in encouraging sustainability, and other means of limitation such as a carbon tax. However, the disaster of this bushfire season shows that the current course of action lags behind the rapid worsening of the climate. Morrison’s readiness in dismissing considerations or improvements on current climate policies exemplifies a rabbit hole that needs to be avoided: governments, as well as people, must not become complacent in the status quo. The bushfires were well under control for the past few years, but it only takes one year of unfortunate coincidences to outline the flaws in government policies and mindset. While Morrison and his party members are surely concerned about detriments that might come with a change to current policies, this conflict only outlines the deeply rooted, systematic problems with which the government is dealing. They should invest more in fixing and reconciling the contrasting benefits of either favoring the economy, or the environment. The two should not be stuck as separate entities. Otherwise, these series of complications may accumulate, and just like this year, erupt in a tragedy never seen before.