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'Like Wildfire': Images of Climate Catastrophe in Australia Go Global

Photographs of bushfires offer a glimpse of our future on a hotter, drier planet

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

As fires continue to rage across Australia with soaring temperatures fueling the flames, images of the catastrophe spreading around the web capture the heartbreak, harrow and heat.

An image of a family huddled beneath a dock, the sky ablaze behind them; a charred sheep standing alone in a field of ashes; the smoking remains of a home: these images communicate better than words the story of our future on a hotter, drier planet.

In response to the photographs taken of the Holmes family of Tasmania, who clung to a wooden jetty for three hours to avoid the treacherous blaze, the Guardian's Jonathan Jones writes:

It is an image of survival...In an age of catastrophe, these people have found a way to live through the worst. They will be fine. They will outlive their home and start again. It is such a flame-seared image, we might be seeing the end of civilization – and a family tough enough to outlive it.

With hundreds of thousands of hectares of land destroyed and thousands of livestock killed in the bushfires, the country braces itself for more hot, dry winds on Friday as temperatures are expected to break 120ºF in the inland regions.

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Five Australian children with their grandparents dramatically escaped from blazing bush fires by clinging to a wooden jetty for three hours. (Photo: Holmes Family/AP)

(Photo: Holmes Family/AP)

"We were relying on the jetty really. And the difficulty was, there was so much smoke and ember and there was only about probably two to three hundred millimetres of air above the water," Holmes recalled. "So we were all just heads, water up to our chins, just trying to breathe because it was just, the atmosphere was so incredibly toxic," he said. (Photo: Holmes Family/AP)

Fires raged along the Princes Highway at Deans Gap in the Shoalhaven area in New South Wales. (Photo: NSW Rural Fire Service)

Smoke billows into the sky over grazing land in the Carlaminda area near Cooma, NSW. (Photo: Ray Strange/Daily Telegraph)

Fire crews lost control of the Dean's Gap fire as strong winds and temperatures above 104 degrees fueled the flames. (Photo: Dan Himbrechts/The Australian)

(Photo: AP)

An estimated 10,000 sheep have died in the New South Wales bushfires. (Photo: Lukas Coch/EPA)

(Photo: Dan Himbrechts/The Australian)

The aftermath of the Carngham Fires in Victoria. (Photo: Andrew Brownbill/Herald Sun)

 

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