Australia’s national fire has shown no signs of abating 4 months after the outbreak. The area of the fire has exceeded the area of Denmark and killed at least 24 people. Air quality in cities such as the capital Canberra has entered the worst ranks in the world, and many people are homeless. The damage caused by the fire and the distress of people’s lives are very sympathetic.
Fires are first and foremost a common natural phenomenon in Australia. This year’s dry and rain-free climate has particularly contributed to forest fires everywhere. There has been much criticism from the Australian public opinion about the government’s almost inaction in the face of the fire, and many people are emotional. This fire is also very prominent from the world’s perspective, so it is worthy of external participation to review it.
In our opinion, the fire was too violent and exceeded the ability of Australian society to cope. In the past, forest fires occurred in Australia every year, but local governments can control them with conventional responses, and there is no mechanism to cope with super fires in this country. Australia is very sparsely populated. Although most of the land is desert, the per capita forest area is still large, and local fires are not very distressing, so the country has relaxed its vigilance.
In addition, Australia not only has a weak disaster prevention system, it also has a weak resilience. During the fire, Australian Prime Minister Morrison was widely criticized for taking his family on vacation in Hawaii. In fact, this detail is a reflection of the loosening of the country’s disaster response system. In the face of the fire, most of the people who went to fight were volunteers. The professional fire fighting force was seriously insufficient. At the critical moment, the government did not urgently expand the mobilization capacity of the professional fire fighting team. These are unfortunate realities.
The national fire is likely to have a corrective force on Australia’s national attention. The Australian Liberal Government has always taken a very negative attitude towards emission reductions. In recent years, it has particularly followed the Trump administration’s environmental protection policies and refused to contribute to the global emission reduction cause. Climate change is clearly the culprit of the fire. Facts have proved that Oceania is a sensitive region for air change, and Australia does not have the same capital as the United States to ignore emissions reductions.
Australia’s investment in disaster prevention is too small. Countries around the world are constantly increasing their investment in technology and personnel. Preventing problems before they occur is expensive as a system. In the event of a disaster, emergency mobilization can be achieved quickly and sufficient professional forces must be mobilized to respond. Such an emergency system is also expensive. Australia clearly has gross negligence on both levels.
Australia, as a developed country, is not without money, but the money allocated for disaster prevention and mitigation is too small. In recent years, national security has attracted too much attention from the Australian government and elite groups. In fact, some of their concerns, such as the prevention of the “China threat”, have been affected by the United States’ change in China’s strategy and have consumed too much energy and resources.
It must be pointed out that natural disasters are the most advanced threats in most countries in the world today. As a country with outstanding natural disasters and geopolitical risks, China has never dared to focus its country’s main energy on the latter direction and leave the issue in the former direction as it is. China’s economic development level is still not high enough, and disasters are still frequent. Disaster prevention and mitigation is one of the biggest concerns of the Chinese government every day, and China’s related system construction has always been unremitting.
Australia’s national fire has provided a worldwide lesson and a wake-up call to the international community: in view of the increasingly convenient connection and capacity adjustment, the world should explore a large-scale increase in the level of collaborative response to super natural disasters. It is difficult for a country like Australia to independently respond to a national fire. Previously, the Amazon rain forest fire in Brazil had the same problem. How the world should join hands to deal with such a disaster crisis deserves serious discussion.