Australia wildfires: Rain brings limited relief as Golden Globes stars focus on catastrophe

'Make no mistake the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate-change based,' said Russell Crowe

Kate Ng
Monday 06 January 2020 11:07
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Jennifer Aniston reads message from Russell Crowe who is in Australia fighting bushfires

Rain and cooler temperatures have brought welcome relief to Australian communities and fire crews grappling with raging wildfires, as celebrities used the Golden Globes as a platform to voice their support.

But authorities warn the danger is not over yet as temperatures are expected to rise again later in the week and the rain would not be enough to put out the largest blazes by then.

Two people have also been reported missing in NSW, confirmed state premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Fire crews are also racing against the clock to complete strategic burns in preparation for deteriorating conditions.

Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner of the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service (RFS), said: “With the more benign weather conditions it present some wonderful relief for everybody, the firefighters, the emergency services personnel, but also the communities affected by these fires.

“But it also presents some real challenges when it comes to implementing tactical and strategic back-burns and other techniques to try and bring these fires under control.

At the Golden Globes on Sunday, a number of Hollywood stars used their speeches to highlight the bushfire crisis, which started early this summer.

Russell Crowe won best actor in a limited series or motion picture made for TV as Roger Ailes in the Loudest Voice, but was absent from the ceremony because he was with his family in NSW preparing for the latest blazes.

Jennifer Aniston, who was presenting the award, read out Mr Crowe’s acceptance speech on his behalf.

“Make no mistake the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate-change based,” he said. “We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is.”

Cate Blanchett also used the stage to draw attention to the “climate disaster” and praise volunteer firefighters who have been working tirelessly to stamp out the fires.​

Ms Blanchett said: “There are a lot of Australians in the room tonight. I know we are all very grateful for the call-outs to our fellow compatriots who are suffering under the bushfires, so thank you.

“I wanted to do a special call-out to the volunteer firefighters who have been at the centre of battling the climate disaster that is facing Australia.

“And of course, when one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster, so we’re in it together. Thank you very much.”

Other Australian celebrities including Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman used social media to encourage people to donate to Australian firefighters before the ceremony.

Ms Kidman said: “Our family is safe, but obviously many families have been put under enormous stress and duress right now. And we’re so deeply upset and worried.”

Her husband, Keith Urban, added: “There’s a lot of people who have lost so much down there already and there’s more to come, too. We’re not out of the woods; this is just really the beginning of summer.

“But people are doing amazing work down there. We want to thank everyone who’s been working so hard.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who won two awards for ‘Fleabag’, told reporters backstage she will auction off the suit she wore to the ceremony and donate the proceeds to Australian wildfire relief, reported Variety.

Wildfires in the summer are a natural phenomenon, and Australians know to expect them. But they began unexpectedly early this year, fuelled by drought and the country’s hottest and driest year on record.

Scientists say there’s no doubt man-made global warming has played a major role in feeding the fires, along with factors like very dry vegetation and trees, and strong winds.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Saturday he would dispatch 3,000 army, navy, and air force reservists to the frontlines of the fire and committed A$10 million (£10.6 million) to lease firefighting aircraft from overseas.

But the catastrophe has evolved into a public relations disaster for him as Australians criticise him for downplaying the need for the government to address climate change.

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