The 15 places most affected by extreme weather events in the last 20 years

Australia fires: The numbers that highlight sheer scale of unfolding catastrophe

Bushfires are an annual problem for Australia, but this season has been unprecedented. With the death toll now rising daily, millions of hectares left in ashes, and scores of homes left in blackened ruins, the blazes have turned huge swathes of New South Wales and Victoria into disaster zones.

Queensland, South Australia, and West Australia have also had to tackle scores of devastating fires.

Some conservative politicians have played down the severity of the crisis, with acting prime minister, Michael McCormack, saying last month that “we’ve had these smoke hazes before. We’ve had bushfires before”. But the numbers behind the unfolding catastrophe suggest why plenty of experts stress that…


Fire disaster too complex for piecemeal approach

The national bushfire map is an alarming sight. From Western Australia to Queensland, and especially along the continent’s ravaged southeast coastline of NSW and Victoria, blazes are raging in every state. The selfless dedication and herculean work of professional fire crews, generous volunteers, police and other emergency service workers has been little short of miraculous. Without them, the loss of life, devastating as it is, would be far worse. The Australian Defence Force and reservists have been called in. At least 17 people, including three volunteer firefighters, have been killed since the start of this brutal fire season. More people are missing, feared dead.

Holiday-makers have begun to be evacuated from Mallacoota in Victoria after several days and nights on the beach. Fires have burnt through more than 766,000 hectares across Victoria. NSW, which entered an official seven-day state of emergency at 9am on Friday, has seen an area greater than the size of Belgium burned; more than 4 million hectares destroyed and 900 homes lost…


The 15 places most affected by extreme weather events in the last 20 years

building in water
The creeping bay waters in parts of the Philippines are putting both people and their homes at risk. NOEL CELIS / Contributor

Climate change is making extreme weather events more likely. As well as claiming countless lives, climate-fueled disasters beat conflict as the No. 1 driver behind internal displacement in the last 10 years, according to a report from Oxfam. In the last decade, they forced roughly 20 million people from their homes on a yearly basis.

Today, it’s three times likelier that you’ll be internally displaced by a flood, a cyclone, or a wildfire than by conflict, Oxfam’s report suggested. While climate-related disasters aren’t exclusive to poorer or developing countries, they tend to affect them most severely…


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