Australian Bushfires Ravage the Country’s Landscapes; Human Health Put At Risk – Michaela Moran

Australian Bushfires Ravage the Country’s Landscapes

 

It’s no secret that Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. It’s home to over a million different species, many of which can be found nowhere else in the world. High levels of biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species has an important role to play. And greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms. 

Much of Australia’s diverse ecosystem is being threatened by the rapid increase of bushfires spreading across the country’s landscape. Not only are the fires creating havoc for the various different ecosystems present in Australia’s vast landscape, they also pose a significant risk to health of the people living there. Recent reports have indicated that “Canberra measured the worst air quality index of any major city in the world” (1) due to the intense smoke and air pollution caused by the fires. Wildfires like these produce something called fine particle air pollution, which directly threatens human health even during relatively short amounts of exposure. The smoke produced from the fires is a potential health risk due to the mixture of hazardous gases and particles it contains. Inhalation and exposure can lead to irritation of the respiratory tract and eyes, reduced lung function, bronchitis, exacerbated asthma and even premature death (1).  There are already at least 30 reported deaths and many more have lost their homes (2).

Efforts to contain the fires have consisted of ground and aerial strategies created by fire crews across the country (2). Additional support has also been provided by the US, Canada, and New Zealand in the form of extra hands and funding for new and innovative projects to commence in order to contain and bring a stop to these devastating fires (2). In order to truly combat these devastating fires, funding and support is needed to push forward new and inventive plans for sustainability. Whether that be in the form of funding projects to help restore plants, trees, and other types of vegetation that could help provide support to the ecosystems as a whole and rich and diverse wildlife living among them. The newly introduced trees and plants would also help to reduce harmful CO2 emissions. Whatever the solution is, it’s evident that much more must be done, and soon, if we wish to save the priceless ecosystems of Australia from certain destruction.

 

  1. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/ten-impacts-australian-bushfires
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51008051

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