It’s summertime in Australia, which means the fires are raging. Every year, the continent’s sweltering temperatures and dry conditions create a toxic combination for bush fires that can threaten homes and lead to injuries and deaths. This season’s wildfires are particularly damaging, destroying the largest amount of territory in more than three decades. The Insurance Council of Australia yesterday declared a catastrophe for regions near Adelaide in South Australia.
Fires may be inevitable in Australian summers, but climate change is making the problem more severe, says Will Steffen, an adjunct professor at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment & Society.