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Strong winds fan Australia’s wildfires

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) —

The strong winds in Australia struck two big fires, which were burning within four times the area of ​​Greater London, on Friday, at a time when tens of thousands of people descended on a march to demand combating climate change.

After days of relative calm, New South Wales state firefighting commissioner Shane Fitzsimons said, “The conditions are tough today.”

“Once again, hot and dry winds will emerge as the real challenge,” he added.

The temperature rose to more than 40 degrees Celsius in parts of New South Wales and the neighboring state of Victoria, where efforts are focused on tackling two fires, to form a massive fire devouring more than 600 thousand hectares.

The authorities had extended the “state of disaster” for two days due to expected temperatures on Friday, and evacuation orders had been issued for areas around the borders of New South Wales and Victoria.

More than 130 fires are raging in the state, New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Peregglyan said, more than 50 of which have not yet been brought under control.

The catastrophic forest fires claimed at least 26 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes, and destroyed nearly ten million hectares (100,000 square kilometers) of land – an area larger than South Korea or Portugal.

Scientists at the University of Sydney estimated that about a billion animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles, had died in the fires.

The Australian Insurance Board has estimated the value of the losses at A $ 939 million ($ 645 million) to date.

Scientists say the fires, fueled by drought, are fueled by climate change, which in turn worsens the season of fires.

2019 was the hottest and drier year of all. December 18 was the hottest day in Australia so far with the national average maximum temperature reaching 41.9 ° C.

Consider it a personal matter.

In Sydney and Melbourne, thousands of people took to the streets again to call on the Australian government to do more to tackle global warming and cut coal exports.

“Change politics, not climate,” read one of the signs, reflecting an increasingly intense debate about the cause of the fires.

Experts say that the emergency caused by the fires launched a campaign of misleading information “unprecedented” in the history of the country, with the spread of “bot” software on the Internet, which is responsible for climate change from the outbreak of fires.

The #ArsaArmency (The Intentional Fire Emergency) tag has a rapid reaction, and conservative newspapers, websites and politicians around the world have strengthened the theory that fires were largely intentional and were not caused by climate change, droughts, or record temperature rises.

Timothy Graham, an expert in digital media at Queensland University of Technology, told AFP that his research indicates that half of the Twitter accounts that use the tag show behavior similar to electronic phishing.

“Our results show a concerted effort to mislead public opinion about the causes of forest fires,” Graham said.

“The campaign is not comparable to the size of what we witnessed in other countries, such as the 2016 US elections, but this much misleading information in Australia is unprecedented,” he added.

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to avoid journalists ’questions about whether climate change would make the terrible fire season a norm.

“We have talked about this on a number of occasions so far,” Morrison said with alarm, adding that reviews will take place when the fire season ends.

Toamba volunteer Tony Larkings, 65, said fighting in recent weeks had been a “hot, dirty and dangerous” mission.

“It was horrific. We have never seen anything like this before,” he told AFP.

The volunteer strongly criticized Morrison’s response to the fires, saying it was a “price for Scott” and condemned his response to popular criticism.

“His remarkable remarks were when he said ‘I don’t consider this a personal matter,'” Larkings said.

“Scott, consider it a personal matter,” Morrison said, speaking to Morrison.

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