The 2017 US wildfire season is off to alarming start, with thousands of individual fires having scorched through 2 million acres since the start of the year. That’s nearly 10 times more land burned than what’s typically seen at this stage of the season—and a troubling sign of things to come.
The blackened skeletons of scorched trees jut out of the smoldering Earth like angry bee stings. A smell of ash, dust, and death hangs in the air. This isn’t a scene from a post apocalyptic movie. It’s part of a Tasmanian World Heritage Site that harbors some of the oldest trees on Earth.
An ancient forest at the end of the world is facing an unprecedented threat. Since mid-January, bushfires sparked by lightning storms have raged across northwest Tasmania, home to relic forests representing a time when the island was part of Gondwana 180 million years ago.
A document on the Australian Department of the Environment's website once explained the dangers of extreme weather, with a special warning that climate change might intensify the situation. Now, that warning has been removed — likely to reflect Prime Minister Tony Abbott's views.
Bushfires are one of the most deadly and destructive natural disasters in Australia — they can move at incredible speeds and wipe out a town in minutes. Now a team of engineers believe that they can fight these fires by blasting them with explosive force. In this video, you can see how it works.