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The Geopolitical Cost of Australia's Wildfires

Jan 20, 2020 | 20:17 GMT
A fire truck drives past a hill engulfed in flames on the night of Jan. 20, 2020 in Mount Adrah, Australia. The 2020 fire season has hit the southern coast of New South Wales particularly hard.

Firefighters conduct property protection patrols at the Dunn Road fire on Jan. 10 in Mount Adrah, Australia. As of Monday, more than 80 wildfires were still burning across New South Wales and Victoria, despite recent downpours.

(Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Australia is at the start of what's shaping up to be a ­­­­record fire season with potentially drastic economic and political repercussions. As of mid-January, brushfires in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and elsewhere have resulted in insured property damage estimated at over $1.34 billion, burning nearly 12 million hectares (29.7 million acres) and resulting in 28 deaths. In addition to the areas already engulfed in flames, broad swaths of the country are at higher-than-usual risk of coming into the line of fire. And the damage to date could be just the tip of the iceberg, given that the country's annual fire seasons stretch from December to around April. As Australia's climate grows hotter and drier, so too will the severity of its wildfire woes. This sobering prospect has, once again, placed the country's oil and gas exports in the crosshairs of climate concerns. But even given the havoc fires...

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