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Protesters Raise Voice Against Bushfire Crisis in Australia

Protests Erupt as Australia’s Bushfire Crisis Continues

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Protesters hold placards
Protesters hold placards during a climate change rally in Sydney, Australia. VOA

Climate change rallies have been held in Australia by thousands of protesters critical of the government’s handling of the bushfire crisis. A demonstration in Sydney has reportedly attracted 30,000 people, while events have also been held in other major cities.

“Sack the prime minister,” protesters chanted as they turned on Australia’s conservative leader, Scott Morrison. He is accused of not taking global warming seriously and of underplaying its role in the bushfire emergency. Protesters believe that “fossil fuel loving politicians” have overseen “decades of climate destruction.”

They want the Morrison government to phase out the use of fossil fuels. That is unlikely given their immense value to the Australian economy. Coal generates much of the nation’s electricity and earns billions of dollars through exports to China, India and other countries.

The prime minister has previously defended his energy and climate policies as adequate and responsible, but at least one protester in Sydney is demanding he give a more sensitive response to the bushfire emergency.

Protesters hold placards
Protesters raising their voices against the government not doing enough to stop bushfire crisis in Australia. VOA

“Humanely, with empathy. I think that is a huge thing,” the protester said. “I think the way Scott Morrison has handled this and his lack of empathy to the whole situation is embarrassing. I would like the firefighters to be funded more, I would like more schemes to be set up, and just money and to actually admit that climate change is real, like it is clearly happening and this is what we are doing about it. We are marching.”

Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews had urged the organizers of a rally in Melbourne to postpone the protest because it would put pressure on police resources during the bushfire crisis. But despite that plea, and heavy rain, hundreds of people turned out to join a nationwide chorus of anger and frustration.

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Dozens of fires continue to burn, mostly in southeastern Australia. Cooler conditions are forecast for the next week, which will help the firefighting effort. In New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, 147 bush and grass fires are burning. Sixty-five have yet to be contained.

Since September, at least 27 people have died in Australia’s bushfires. More than 10 million hectares (24 million acres) of land — an area bigger than Portugal — have been scorched. (VOA)

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Ozone-Depleting Substance Causes Half of Arctic Warming

Ozone-depleting substances behind half of Arctic warming

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Arctic warming
Ozone-depleting substances caused half of Arctic warming and sea ice loss. Pixabay

Ozone-depleting substances caused half of Arctic warming and sea ice loss from 1955 to 2005, causing about a third of all global warming during that period, reveals a significant study.

A scientific paper published in 1985 was the first to report a burgeoning hole in Earth’s stratospheric ozone over Antarctica.

The discovery left scientists into a huddle to determine the cause which happened to be ozone-depleting substances – long-lived artificial halogen compounds entirely manmade and popularly used as refrigerants, solvents and propellants.

The new study from researchers at Columbia University and published in the journal Nature Climate Change examined the greenhouse warming effects of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

Arctic warming
Ozone-depleting substances act as a strong supplement to carbon dioxide and had lead to Arctic warming. Pixabay

It found that the ozone-depleting substances acted as a strong supplement to carbon dioxide, the most pervasive greenhouse gas. “We showed that ODS have affected the Arctic climate in a substantial way,” said researcher Michael Previdi from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The scientists reached their conclusion using two very different climate models that are widely employed by the scientific community, both developed at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. The results highlight the importance of the Montreal Protocol, which has been signed by nearly 200 countries.

“Climate mitigation is in action as we speak because these substances are decreasing in the atmosphere, thanks to the Montreal Protocol,” said Lorenzo Polvani, lead author of the study. “In the coming decades, they will contribute less and less to global warming. It’s a good-news story”.

In the 1980s, a hole in Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, which filters much of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, was discovered over Antarctica. Scientists quickly attributed it to ODS. The world sprang into action, finalizing a global agreement to phase out ODS.

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The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 and entered into force in 1989. Due to the swift international reaction, atmospheric concentrations of most ODS peaked in the late 20th century and have been declining since.

However, for at least 50 years, the climate impacts of ODS were extensive, revealed the new study. (IANS)