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Why Australia Is Burning

Wildfires are devastating Australia, incinerating an area roughly the size of West Virginia and killing 24 people and as many as half a billion animals. Today, we look at the human and environmental costs of the disaster, its connection to climate change and why so many Australians are frustrated by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response.

Guest: Livia Albeck-Ripka, a reporter for The Times in Melbourne a reporter for The Times in Melbourne who spoke with Susan Pulis, a woman who fled the fires with kangaroos and koalas in her car. For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily.

Background reading:

  • After Australia’s hottest and driest year on record, Mr. Morrison has minimized the connection between the wildfire crisis and climate change and declined to make moves to curb the country’s carbon emissions.
  • Many Australians entered the new year under apocalyptic blood-red skies as smoke from the fires choked the country’s southeastern coast. “I look outside and it’s like the end of the world. Armageddon is here,” one woman in Canberra said.
  • The fires have burned through dozens of towns, destroying at least 3,000 homes. Now, unbridled by continuous fire fighting, the blazes have returned to some scorched areas to level what is left.
  • Rupert Murdoch controls the largest news company in Australia, and his newspapers have contributed to a wave of misinformation about the cause of the fires.

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