These fires are a big deal. They are unprecedented in their scale and intensity. Major population centres have been blanketed in hazardous levels of smoke for weeks. The fires have burned in areas that have never burned before, in vegetation classes that will never recover. They have destroyed millions of hectares of forest that we depend on for clean air and drinking water. Check this Twitter thread on the impacts to Sydney’s water catchment, for example: And here’s another thread from a forest ecologist putting the current fires into historical context: In a global context, the fires are nearly six times the size of the 2019 fires in the Amazon and nearly twice the size of the fires in Siberia in 2019. And the fire season still hasn’t peaked yet. Yes, we will mount recovery efforts and life will go on, and we will find ways around the problems and the forests will slowly re-populate — but hotter and drier summers mean shorter intervals between large fire events, which means we lose a little more each time and it has less chance to re-grow, and our capacity to respond is also diminished. What happens next season if more goes, and what of the 500 fire seasons after that?

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