The former deputy commissioner of New South Wales fire and rescue services sounded the alarm long before wildfires killed 34 Australians, decimated the country's unique wildlife and created a smoke cloud so vast it was visible from space.
"We could just see it coming," said Thompson, who last August co-founded Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA), a group of experts with huge collective experience dealing with fires and natural disasters. "You only had to look at the conditions the fire agencies and the land management agencies use to determine the fire danger index -- the amount of fuel on the ground, the heat, humidity, wind and so forth -- and you could see it."
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The group first warned in an Oct. 4 open letter that the nation was unprepared for "increasingly catastrophic extreme weather events." Climate change was worsening “extreme weather events,” with bushfire season lasting longer and longer, it said.