Morning commuters are seen through smoke haze from bushfires in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday. Photo: AAP Image/Erik Anderson/via REUTERS
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Melbourne smothered in smoke as Australian bushfires burn

12 Comments
By Kate Lamb

Australia's devastating bushfire season is far from over despite cooler weather this week, Victorian state officials warned on Tuesday as Melbourne was blanketed by hazardous smoke.

At least 180 fires continued to burn across Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) states although widespread rainfall is forecast for fire-hit areas on the east coast from Wednesday.

About 20 bushfires were yet to be contained in NSW, Australia's most populous state, while in Victoria five fires were at the 'Watch and Act' advice warning, one level below emergency status, authorities said.

"I wish I could say this was over, but we have a long way to go. We've got the smoke in our communities at the moment and it is at very poor or hazardous levels," Lisa Neville, Victoria’s emergency services and police minister told a media briefing.

Brett Sutton, the state's chief health officer, said he believed air quality in Melbourne, Australia's second-biggest city, had dropped to the "worst in the world" overnight as cooler temperatures brought particles in the air close to the ground.

Australia is experiencing one of most severe fire seasons on record, with bushfires that have been burning since September claiming the lives of 28 people and destroying more than 2,500 homes.

The political fallout from the unprecedented scale of the bushfires has pressured the conservative government to reconsider its policies on climate change.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signaled the government may raise its targets for cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, and was open to the establishment of a powerful royal commission inquiry into the bushfires.

The federal government on Monday said A$50 million ($35 million) would be given to an emergency wildlife recovery program, describing the bushfires as "an ecological disaster" that threatened several species including koalas and rock wallabies.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
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The political fallout from the unprecedented scale of the bushfires has pressured the conservative government to reconsider its policies on climate change.

Hopefully the policies will be determined by Australians and won't be unduly influenced by global far right wing groups such as those led by the US Koch brothers, global oil, gas and coal corporations, and states like China and India. Or any other non-Australian group regardless perspective. Let Australians decide for themselves.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

"I wish I could say this was over, but we have a long way to go. We've got the smoke in our communities at the moment and it is at very poor or hazardous levels," Lisa Neville, Victoria’s emergency services and police minister told a media briefing.

It certainly is far from over.

So now that they are unable to say “now is not the time”, they have adapted. Rather than suggest no connection with climate change, they have shifted to arguing there is no connection with any particular climate change policy and bushfires. Scott Morrison argued last week on ABC’s 7.30: “You cannot link any individual single emissions reduction policy of a country – whether it’s Australia or anyone else – to any specific fire event. I mean, that’s just absurd.” Yes, it is absurd, because no one is actually arguing that.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/commentisfree/2020/jan/14/the-government-has-been-forced-to-talk-about-climate-change-so-its-taking-a-subtle-and-sinister-approach

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signaled the government may raise its targets for cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, and was open to the establishment of a powerful royal commission inquiry into the bushfires.

Too little too late.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Bad news

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I've just been out in it. It's the worst I've seen in Melbourne, but tbh it doesn't feel that bad. But then I'm reasonably fit, and I don't have respiratory problems. I can only imagine what it must be like in the fire-hit areas - like being permanently downwind of a campfire, I guess.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sydney was worse, you couldn't see 200 meters

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The arsonists should receive very severe penalties.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The amusing thing about being out in the smoke today was hearing a group of smokers complaining about the smoke.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The arsonists should receive very severe penalties.

The Victorian police have stated that none of the East Gippsland fires were caused by arsonists.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Australia has the capacity to easily become 100% reliant on solar power.

Would that stop climate change due to major polluters such as India or China?

No!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Australia has the capacity to easily become 100% reliant on solar power.

Would that stop climate change due to major polluters such as India or China?

No!

Would that be a huge improvement for Australia? YES

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Australia has the capacity to easily become 100% reliant on solar power.

Would that stop climate change due to major polluters such as India or China?

No!

This is such an asinine viewpoint. Just because Australia can’t solve climate change all by itself is hardly a legitimate excuse for doing nothing while the country literally burns. Australia is extraordinarily vulnerable to the effects of climate change and its going to need countries like China and India to cut their CO2 emissions, but they are in no position to even ask them to do so as long as their own government remains intent on business as usual.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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