In Australia’s most populous city, the 32-year-old Brazilian Marcos Guimarães spent a whole week unable to see the sky. The reason: the smoke generated by the fires that hit the country.
The Brazilian, who has lived in Sydney for more than two years, says he now has to deal with a new factor in his routine: it is the amount of smoke that determines whether people will be able to leave the house – with or without a mask – or if they will cancel the appointments.
The total area burned in Australia since the start of the fire season in June 2019 was 10.7 million hectares until Wednesday, according to The Guardian newspaper, which is compiling reported data. by all Australian states.
Fires are happening in regions of the east and south coasts, which is where most people in the country live. Since September last year, the fires have left at least 24 dead and dozens missing.
Australia has always had forest fires, but last year and this one is worse than normal. The scientific consensus is that rising levels of CO2 are warming the planet. It has become increasingly hot in Australia in recent decades and is expected to continue to worsen.
While fires are part of the Australian climate cycle, experts have long warned that this warmer, drier climate would help to make fires increasingly frequent and intense. More extreme weather patterns and higher temperatures increase the risk of forest fires and cause them to spread faster and over a larger area.
In addition to the effects on humans, the flames are being devastating to wildlife in the affected regions. An academic study estimates that 480 million animals died in New South Wales alone.