New data is revealing that the bushfires currently raging through Australia have already emitted more than half of the country’s 2018 annual carbon dioxide emissions. Niels Andela, an assistant research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and collaborator with the Global Fire Emissions Database estimates that the fires have pumped out a combined 306 million tons of carbon dioxide since August 1, according to TIME.
This is a real blow to the fight against climate change and one that is bound to worsen things. It is, after all, a vicious cycle. The more fires burn the worse the damage to the environment, the worse the damage to the environment the more causes that can trigger fires.
On the high side
It should be noted that NASA uses satellite data to make its predictions on emissions based on active fire detection in almost real-time. Since the methodology is still new and under development, the estimates of emissions could be on the high side.
Still, there is no denying that climate change is significantly impacting Australia.
“We have been closely monitoring the intensity of the fires and the smoke they emit and when comparing the results with the average from a 17-year period, they are very unusual in number and intensity, especially in New South Wales, for being so early in the fire season,” Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at Copernicus, told TIME.
New South Wales
New South Wales has been particularly devastated by both drought and fires. This has even resulted in the theft of water.
Just last week it was reported that some thieves stole 300,000 liters of water from a farmer in Evans Plains, an area of New South Wales heavily affected by drought. Meanwhile, last Tuesday, a seven-day state of emergency was declared in New South Wales due to the heatwave.
"The biggest concern over the next few days is the unpredictability, with extreme wind conditions [and] extremely hot temperatures," Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters last Thursday. It seems there is no good news lately for Australia's environmental woes.