Australia is on fire. The current Australian bushfire season has been the worst in recent history, burning an estimated 26 million acres across the continent, particularly in the south-east. Last month, the New South Wales Government declared a state of emergency due to record-breaking temperatures and drought. An estimated six thousand buildings have been destroyed and twenty-eight people have died. In addition to the human costs, there is an enormous ecological toll.
For today’s show, we turn our attention to Australia to learn about the scope of the bushfires and what it all means for the climate crisis. Our guests are professor Leah Horowitz and wildlife ecologist Gavin Jones.
We spend the hour discussing the fires and putting them in historical context, covering topics like Aboriginal fire management techniques, how the Australian government is responding to this disaster, learning to co-exist with wildfires, and what we can do to mitigate the climate crisis and tend to our own climate grief.
Leah Horowitz is professor of civil society and community studies in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she researches grassroots engagements with environmental issues. She received her PhD from the Australian National University.
Gavin Jones is a quantitative wildlife ecologist and conservation scientist. He currently works as a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida.
Cover image: “NASA MODIS Australia burned area data from 2001 to 2019; 19:09, 4 January 2020” by NASA’s Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS), used under public domain.