Australian bushfires – expert reaction from Professor Bob Hill

Recently, the director of the Environment Institute and paleobotanist Professor Bob Hill, spoke to the Australian Science Media Centre about the devastating fires raging over the Australian countryside. He had this to say:

“The fires around Australia are tragic at many levels and the cost in human life and of animals, both domestic and native, is appalling. Perhaps less well understood is the potential cost in terms of future vegetation. Australian plants in many vegetation types have evolved in response to a high fire regime over tens of millions of years and they are well known for their capacity to regenerate, either from seed or vegetatively, after major fires.

However, the risk is that we are now seeing fires that are so intense that they are reaching temperatures where these adaptations are no longer effective, and if this continues we will begin to see plant species losses from burnt sites as their regeneration processes fail. Over time, this has the potential to be catastrophic. The short-term solution is to invest much more heavily in fire-fighting technology, but the only long term solution is to reverse the impact of climate change by reducing the level of critical greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is a global catastrophe that has now hit Australia hard. There is no reason to believe that this is an isolated event.”

Many experts from across the nation gave their specialist opinion as well. Read about them at AusSMC here.

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