Continent-spanning fires visible from space
These maps, taken by the Himawari-8 weather satellite at 4PM Central Australian Daylight Time on 2019-12-20, reveal in stark detail the huge range and reach of the bushfires currently ravaging the nation. All along the eastern coast and the Great Dividing Range, the dull grey plumes of smoke from the bushfire fronts rise into the atmosphere to be blown eastwards over the Pacific by the jet stream. Along the Blue Mountains down through the Snowy Mountains and the Australian Alps as far south as Gippsland, a clearly visible and near-continuous wall of fire has cut off the eastern cities from the remainder of the country.
The fires have been burning unchecked for over two weeks, and efforts to contain them have so far proven fruitless. It highlights how we puny humans cannot hope to contain nature’s fury at such a scale. What makes the situation even worse is that we are coming from a year-long drought, with empty dams and dry rivers. There are reports of people giving up the water in their swimming pools to helicopters to fight the blazes, because all the dams have run dry due to the drought.
Putting the fires in perspective
For those in other countries unable to grasp the magnitude of this catastrophe, there are maps with the British Isles, the United States and India overlaid on them. It can be clearly seen that if these fires were transplanted to the United Kingdom, there would be a wall of fire running from London through Edinburgh, as far as the Shetland Islands. The plume of smoke would be carried over Europe, darkening the skies as far east as Poland.
In the United States, if these fires were to occur there, the fire front would stretch from Los Angeles to Portland in a near-continuous wall of fire, with the smoke plume darkening the sky as far east as Wisconsin. Or, carried to the eastern seaboard, the fire front would run from Miami to Washington DC, and the smoke plume would reach Bermuda.
If the fires were occurring in India, they would form a wall of fire from Chennai to Patna, and the smoke plume would cross the Bay of Bengal as far as Myanmar.
Be aware, we are in danger
Our nation will survive this disaster, as it has many others. But for those of us still safe in our homes, it is my hope that these terrifying images will bring home to my fellow Australians just how far up shit creek we ALL are.