Conducted by the Australian National University, this survey shows the human scale of these fires that burned for five months, killing more than 30 and destroying thousands of homes.
“Almost all Australians have been affected by these fires and many of us will suffer the consequences in the years to come,” said Nicholas Biddle, a social scientist.
This study, conducted among 3000 people, shows that 14% of the adult population, or nearly three million inhabitants, was directly impacted by this crisis. They were forced to evacuate or saw their homes destroyed or damaged.
Some 15 million Australians were indirectly affected by these fires, due to the toxic smoke they emitted or the vacation plans they had to change.
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This magnitude, which surprised the researchers, should be a matter of concern for the government accused of not having provided the right answers to the crisis and of little to worry about the questions linked to climate change.
Scientists say global warming has exacerbated the seasonal fire crisis, fueled by particularly hot and dry weather in recent months on the huge island continent.
Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been criticized for going on vacation to Hawaii in the midst of the crisis and for refusing to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Only 27% of those polled said they had the confidence or very much confidence in their government,” said Biddle, down eleven points in three months.
“It is one of the biggest declines in confidence I have ever seen in such a short time,” he added.
Among those who voted in favor of the government, in the last legislative elections in May, support for the construction of new coal mines fell from 72% before the crisis to 57% in January.
The government is a staunch supporter of the very powerful and lucrative Australian mining industry.