The Student Newspaper of Suncoast High School

Australian Fires in Florida’s Backyard

Australian Fires in Florida’s Backyard

Like a twisted premonition, bushfires burn along Australia’s coast. They cause  detrimental damage to the habitats that house a rich assortment of wildlife and threaten the way of life of many Australians, and foreigners, have come to adore. It is not uncommon for bushfires to sprout up in Australia, especially in the east (one of the most fire-prone pla

e planet) and during the summer seasons, where the dryness and heat reach their yearly highs. However, the past year and a half has seen an unprecedented spike in Australia’s bushfires as they have been appearing more frequently; out of season; and more dangerous than ever before. 

This sudden change in potency has been linked to the rising temperature of the Earth as a result of an increased rate of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, primarily in the manner of burning fossil fuels. Bushfires occur when the intense rays of the sun are coupled with a searingly dry piece of vegetation. Once one catches ablaze, the fire is carried and led by the wind, and drawn to the surrounding dry areas where it rapidly spreads. While technology has advanced in almost every facet of living, the methods used to combat flames of this scale and intensity have not developed promptly enough to handle such catastrophes. Senior Gerry Romeus stated, “I never gave it a second thought that the stuff used to fight fires hasn’t expanded greatly throughout the years. It’s crazy we’re almost to a point of self-driving cars but still don’t have a lot of progress in stopping large fires.” 

Bushfires are dangerous because of their ability to rapidly intensify and spread. According to The Atlantic, bushfires are described as being “a combustion-powered hurricane” due to their ability to draw in and elevate so much air into a singular point at one time. When that air reaches its peak and plummets back down, it spreads outward “in front of the flame, incinerating the landscape before the actual flame has arrived.” Romeus remarked, “I’ve always assumed something only burned once it was touched by fire, but now it seems a lot more serious hearing that something could already be burned prior to the fire reaching it.”

The bushfires in Australia should be a warning to everyone around the world of the dangers of climate change, but especially to all of us that are living in a hotter tropical climate like Florida. While Australia is a temperate climate and is simultaneously hot and dry year round, Florida is a tropical climate, which means that it is a more hot and wet environment. If the rate of climate change persists as it has been and the temperature of the Earth continues, then these fires that seem like worlds away in another country could be in our backyards. As the temperature rises, it will be the foundation for a dry spell to occur, leaving Florida more susceptible to a natural disaster in the form of bushfires.Senior Gajendra Sharma stated, “I’ve known that climate change was an issue, particularly the melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, for a place like Florida, but I never considered the possibility of a raging fire here.”

 To put it into perspective of how dangerous this possibility of bushfires is for South Floridians, NBC-2 published graphs depicting how catastrophic the Australian bushfire size is, and what that would look like in Florida. Australian bushfires have destroyed more than 32,400 square miles of land (dwarfing the Amazon wildfire, which only burned just above 27,000 square miles) and are still going strong. While the Australian fires have been mainly burning along its eastern coast, if a fire like that were to burn in South Florida, it would span from Deltona (north of Orlando), burning from coast to coast, to Key Largo, burning almost everything in between. With this hazardous natural disaster becoming more and more like a potential threat by the day, it shows a warning that should be taken with care. 

 Floridians yearly have hurricanes and rip currents, and are warned of the dangers that come with living on a peninsula, but the inhabitants of this state do not heed the error of their ways of living, and everyone risks a fate far worse than anyone thought possible. 

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