Oz gov­ern­ment un­der fire

The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Syd­ney

– Up to 20 000 pro­test­ers ral­lied in Syd­ney yes­ter­day de­mand­ing ur­gent cli­mate ac­tion from Aus­tralia’s gov­ern­ment, as bush­fire smoke chok­ing the city caused health prob­lems to spike.

Syd­ney has en­dured weeks bathed in toxic smoke as hun­dreds of blazes have raged across the coun­try­side, with hos­pi­tals record­ing a 25% in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple vis­it­ing emer­gency de­part­ments last week.

On Tues­day, alarms rang out across Aus­tralia’s big­gest city, with thick haze trig­ger­ing smoke alarms and forc­ing build­ings to be evac­u­ated, school chil­dren to be kept in­doors and fer­ries to be can­celled.

The dev­as­tat­ing fires have fo­cused at­ten­tion on cli­mate change, with sci­en­tists say­ing the blazes have come ear­lier and with more in­ten­sity than usual, due to global warm­ing and a pro­longed drought.

Po­lice es­ti­mated the crowd size at 15 000, or­gan­is­ers put the fig­ure at 20 000.

Many of the pro­test­ers voiced anger at the gov­ern­ment’s si­lence in the face of the cri­sis.

“The coun­try is on fire,” said 26-year-old Sa­muel Wilkie at­tend­ing his first cli­mate protest. He de­scribed politi­cians’ re­sponse as “pa­thetic”.

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