Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Australia's Bushfire Problem

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorFebruary 10, 2009 11:03 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Several years ago, when Australia was baking from an extended drought and its agricultural economy was near collapse, Australians partly blamed global warming and soon booted their conservative Prime Minister (who advised everyone to pray for rain) out of office. Now, in the wake of southern Australia's  catastrophic fires, which has leveled whole villages and killed up to 200 people, climate change is again being cast as one of the culprits. That's too crude, similar to when some American environmentalists immediately blamed global warming for Hurricane Katrina. For starters, Australia's landscape is pretty damn flammable. Tragic wildfires have struck the country many times before. And, as

The Australian

points out,

The severity of bushfires is determined by a number of key factors: weather, including drought; fuel load; topography; the location of the population: their houses: and householders' preparedness to manage fire.

In this latest case, what's even more awful to consider is that authorities issued dire warnings to the public on the eve of the disaster. And still, many of the victims had no inkling that fire was upon them until the last minute. As for the future, will hotter temperatures from greenhouse gases lead to longer and more frequent dry spells in Australia? Most likely, say scientists. And this, of course, will beget more nasty bushfires.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 50%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In