As I write, the Australian bushfires continue, with the weather company Accuweather reporting around 130 ongoing fires. There was a brief respite in Australia’s Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) provinces with some rainfall on 5-6 January, but as temperatures rise again, the flames are only going to get bigger. The fear is that the Victoria and NSW fires are going to merge and create a “super-blaze".

Last week, nearly 500 million animals had died in the inferno. This week, the economic cost of the bushfires has been disclosed. According to the financial services company Moody’s Analytics, it’s set to be more than $4.4 billion (around 31,332 crore). This will be a greater financial loss than the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Australia’s Victoria province.

The current bushfires have so far burnt through 8.4 million hectares. Experts say the Australian tourism industry, which contributed 3% of the country’s GDP in 2014-15 and posted a record revenue of $44.6 billion in 2019, will need close to $300 million to rebuild.

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In all this, yet another “unprecedented" weather calamity slipped through the news last week. Devastating floods in Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia killed 66 people and drove 400,000 people to refugee shelters after their homes were washed away. According to experts, Jakarta is sinking so rapidly that it might be entirely submerged by 2050.

And finally, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced on 6 January that extreme weather events driven by climate change had claimed 1,659 lives across India in 2019. Of these, Bihar alone accounted for 650 lives lost; 306 of them during the monsoon floods. As many as 350 people died in heatwaves. According to the IMD, 2019 was also the seventh warmest year on record.

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