Last updated on January 1, 2020
“Friends. Shit is getting well-serious. I am at my place at the very top of the Bellinger Valley. Smoke has completely saturated everything for days now. “Most of this evening I have heard the wind absolutely roaring on the escarpment above. These beasts are inexorably heading for Point Lookout and New England National Park — the biggest and healthiest chunk of Gondwana. “There are no words that can describe the significance, enormity and horror of what now looks highly likely to happen … Rain, RAIN … RAIN …” Mark Graham, Ecologist and fire specialist
Gondwana was a supercontinent that existed five hundred and fifty million years ago. In the early years of the Jurassic period one hundred and eighty years million years ago is when the supercontinent broke up. Most of today’s landmass that was part of Gondwana, are now known as India, South America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, Arabia, and Madagascar.
Gondwana rainforests in Australia are recognized as the largest sub-tropical rainforests on earth by the World Heritage. The rainforest remnants in Australia are mainly in Queensland and New South Wales. Warm Antarctic temperate beech rainforests provide proof that the fossil record that Australia was a part of the supercontinent. It is one of a few remnants of ancient forests in the world and includes plants and animals that have survived since ancient times.
Australia’s eucalyptus forests use fire to regenerate. But the soaking wet moss-covered rainforest has never burned.
For many species, if they experience wildfire, they will die, so they evolved to live at higher elevations where it is way too wet to burn, until now.
An extreme drought with blistering heat in winter and spring has turned parts of the forest and bogs into tinder. The forests have begun to burn.
Unlike the Amazon, where the genocidal maniac Jair Bolsonaro is burning the rainforest, in Gondwana and other Australian forests are burning because of climate change.
Bushfires are normally considered to be “carbon neutral” because, unlike fossil fuels, their emissions output is reabsorbed when the vegetation in fire-affected areas regrows.
However, experts fear the sheer scale and intensity of this year's unprecedented fires, coupled with worsening drought conditions, has disrupted this recovery process.
Flames have reached heights of 229 feet.
Dr Canadell said it was difficult to determine if specific fires would be carbon neutral because the regrowth process could take a long time.
But he said decreased rainfall and a lack of remediation of the land degraded by flames and agriculture meant some of the millions of tonnes of carbons from this year's bushfires would remain in the atmosphere.
“If there were no changes in fire frequency over time, it would be carbon neutral,” he said.
“[But] carbon neutrality breaks at the point where you start burning more than regrowth can catch up with.”
Professor Bowman said we may already have entered a “slippery slope of negative feedback” where forests become sources of carbon instead of carbon sinks.
“The nightmare scenario is that because of climate change, the forest isn't able to recover itself,” he said.
“Once we actually know for certain what's happening, it's going to be too late.
“And this is a big thing to be wrong about.”
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