On September 2nd of last year in Sarabah, near the Gold Coast of Australia, a wildfire quickly spread as it began to swallow Australia. This Australian forest fire burned an area of more than 10 million hectares, 100 times the area size of Seoul, and about 2,500 buildings burnt to the ground. Global warming has played a key part in making the conditions for these wildfires worse and South Korea must take responsibility for its part in contributing to global warming.
Scientists said that Australian wildfires have produced at least 400 million tons of carbon dioxide, and Sydney’s air condition has deteriorated to the same level as smoking 37 cigarettes a day. Also, because of this deadly forest fire, more than 24 people including about 10 firefighters who worked on the blaze were unfortunately killed.
Most of the environmental and climate experts cited that climate changes from global warming are the reasons why wildfires are lasting for months without extinguishing. Global warming gas caused differences in water temperature in the Indian Ocean, which has resulted in an Indian Dipole. This phenomenon causes dry weather due to high rainfall in the west and low rainfall in the east. Therefore, Australia which is on the east side of the Indian Ocean has been getting drier and hotter under the influence of this phenomenon. Forest fires occur and spread well in dry conditions. Thus, Australian wildfires are not easily suppressed because of climate changes caused by global warming.
Meanwhile, human beings are responsible for contributing to global warming. Global warming is a phenomenon in which the Earth’s temperature gradually rises as the Earth produces more greenhouse gases. The biggest cause of increased greenhouse gas production is due to the human use of fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
Australia is the largest coal exporter accounting for one-third of the world’s coal exports. It ranked as 53rd among 58 countries in the 2019 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). However, it is not just Australia that causes climate change. Korea is also responsible for contributing to the conditions that have made the wildfires in Australia worse.
South Korea is the world’s No.1 country in per capita coal use, No.3 in overseas coal investment, and No.4 in coal imports. Therefore, Korea has a great responsibility for the crisis caused by climate change. As the power of coal accounts for a large portion of Korea’s coal generation, Korea is investing in the mining development of coal-producing countries such as Australia. Korea and Australia are even included in the World’s Four Largest Climate Villains named by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an international environmental group.
As Korea is responsible for global warming, many regions including South Gyeongsang and South Chungcheong provinces are trying to take responsibility by declaring a climate emergency. South Chungcheong province announced it will increase that use of renewable energy, shut down coal-fired electrical power plants, and tighten the policies of the climate crisis.
Despite such efforts, the development of renewable energy takes a lengthy period of time, so it is difficult to resolve this problem immediately. CAT said, “Of course, the renewable energy in Korea has shown a high rate of growth recently, but it is still insufficient”.
While Korea also has responsibility for climate change, it is a matter that governments and people of all countries must work together to resolve. Hopefully, the entire global community will be more interested in global warming and cooperate to make the Earth healthy.