500 Million Animals Killed As Australia Fires Create “Apocalyptic” Smoke Plume Wider Than Europe

The world is terrified by the raging bushfires in Australia, that have devastated massive parts of its territory, leaving only ashes wherever they spread.

The rain forests are burning, the kelp forests have disappeared to a high extent, its Great Barrier Reef is dying, many towns have run out of water, and the vast continent is burning on a scale never before seen.

The latest NASA satellite images from December 31 reveal the widespread bushfires raging through the states of New South Wales and Victoria in south-eastern Australia, and the massive towers of smoke can be seen from space, consuming half of the region.

Smoke plumes that cover an area larger than the one of the European continent have been created while the soot has colored glaciers in neighboring New Zealand black.

According to experts, a huge plume of smoke spanning about 2.1 million square miles (5.5 million sq km) had started drifting over the Pacific Ocean toward New Zealand.

Vacationers have described the skies in New Zealand as “sepia,” “orange” and “apocalyptic.”

According to Antti Lipponen, a research scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the smoke plume is four times larger the size of Alaska, 14 times the size of Japan, and about equal to the distance between Iceland and Turkey.

The white glaciers of New Zealand have turned black by the soot and smoke, and snow has also been “caramelized ”, which is very dangerous, as climate change has already endangered them.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark tweeted that the Australian ash on glaciers “is likely to accelerate melting.”

Snow and ice usually reflect the heat of the sun, so when white, they slow melting. Yet, heat is rapidly absorbed by the blackened snow and this accelerates the melting process.

Australian bushfires are a result of a combination of factors: extremely high temperatures, droughts, and winds.

Victoria’s Bureau of Meteorology added that the fires have even started generating their own weather in the form of pyro-cumulonimbus clouds, or thunderstorms that create more fires.

The Bureau tweeted:

“Pyro-cumulonimbus clouds have developed to altitudes over 16 km in East #Gippsland this afternoon. These fire-induced storms can spread fires through lightning, lofting of embers and generation of severe wind outflows.” 

Yet, the weather forecast does not predict better conditions any time soon.

More than 100 fires in NSW and more than 40 in Victoria are currently raging, and thousands of volunteer firefighters are working hard to fight them.

Less than a week ago, 4,000 people in the coastal town of Mallacoota, Victoria, fled to the shore and even into the water as the blaze threatened to consume their homes.

According to one tourist, Kai Kirschbaum:

“I think that was our biggest threat in terms of what are we doing with the children if we need to go in the water to protect ourselves given the fact that they are only 1, 3 and 5.

If you’re a good swimmer it doesn’t really matter if you have to be in the water for a longer time, but doing that with three kids that would have been, I think a nightmare.”

Apart from reaching New Zealand, which is 1,000 miles away, the smoke has led to the worst pollution ever seen in Australia’s capital, as recorded on January 1st, with an air quality index 23 times higher than what’s considered “hazardous.”

Ecologists claim that the disastrous effects of the fires on wildlife threaten to forever tip the balance for entire species of animals and plants.

Flames have killed nearly 500,000,000 animals, while the human death toll has climbed to at least 18.

Crystal Kolden, an associate professor of fire science at the University of Idaho who studied Tasmania wildfires in 2018, explained:

“The potential impacts on wildlife are devastating. There won’t be a full accounting for how bad it actually is for years.”

Kolden also fears for those species that have managed to survive for millions of years in Australia, as these remnants “of the era of the dinosaurs essentially, [are] not adapted for fire and when it burns, it will be gone.”

Experts also claim that over 300 baby flying foxes were abandoned by their mothers in the struggle to survive.

Wildlife rescuer Jenny Packwood explains:

“Mothers are abandoning babies at two weeks after birth because there is no food for them. Last week we had 300 come in, and we’ve been flat out feeding since then.

I’ve never seen anything like this before—we’re calling it a starvation event.”

Additionally, the loss of tiny creatures like insects threaten species such as bats.

Koala Crisis wrote :

“Not one carer KC has spoken to has seen bees, insects, grubs, worms, snails, beetles, millipedes, for months. Nothing struggles through the dustbowls which are now covering millions of hectares in all states.

There’s no grass for the ’roos, no insects for the birds, the leaves on eucalypts are brittle, ensuring starvation for koalas, gliders, possums, birds, insects.”

The bushfires raging since September, and with three more months of the summer season, experts maintain that the country is about to face a humanitarian crisis.

The Australian government has been a target of harsh criticism and accused of denying the realities of climate change, obstructing global summits on climate change and skirting its obligations under the 2015 Paris accord.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has angered many, and has been nicknamed “ScoMo” or “Scummo”.

He has announced the deployment of 3,000 reserve troops to help the fire-fighting effort, and his advert posted on Twitter showing the government’s response to the crisis was additionally criticized:

“We’re putting more Defence Force boots on the ground, more planes in the sky, more ships to sea, and more trucks to roll in to support the bushfire fighting effort and recovery as part of our coordinated response to these terrible #bushfires. “

On the meet-and-greet with locals in a fire-scourged NSW town, residents showered abuse on him, cursing him as “an idiot,” telling him that he’s “not welcome” and should “piss off” and not expect any future votes.