With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Australia Heading Into New 'Fire Age', Warns Global Fire Historian

Australia could be at the beginning of a new "epoch of fire", driven by humans and climate change.

Fire historian Stephen J. Pyne told RN Breakfast humans were pushing the planet to the opposite of an Ice Age — a new age of fire that he calls the Pyrocene.

"I think Australia is on one hand part of the leading edge of this new fire epoch, the Pyrocene," he said.

Yesterday, the bushfires royal commission started public hearings with a focus on climate and resilience.

Mr Pyne, an emeritus professor at Arizona State University, said Australia had been a fire continent for millions of years but that the Black Saturday fires in 2009 and the most recent 2019-2020 fire season marked a new era.

"The Black Saturday Fires seemed to hit Australians as a special trauma, not just a tragedy but a trauma, almost as if it was a terrorist attack [with] the source of the terror coming out of the very land you live on," he said.

"That seemed different, in a way qualitatively different, than what had happened before and then last summer's fires were just so overwhelming and went on and on forever."

On March 2 this year, not a single wildfire was burning in Australia for the first time in 240 days.

Read entire article at ABC (Australia)