Record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought brought on by climate change fueled a string of massive wildfires across Australia. At the time of writing this blog, these fires have already burned nearly 40,000 square miles of brush, forests, and parks. Even worse, 24 people and nearly half a billion animals have perished due to these blazes since September 2019. The fires are so massive that they create their own weather patterns which result in thunderstorms that have sparked new fires.
Why Australia is burning
These fires have been made worse by temperatures of over 100 degrees accompanied by high winds. Climate change-fueled high temperatures and strong winds were also responsible for the devastating Mendocino Complex fires that swept through Northern California in 2018.
Australia has been getting warmer, much like California in recent years due to climate change. Since the year 2000, Australia has seen temperatures that average over one degree hotter than normal. That may not seem like much, but it can and does make wildfires a lot more likely to happen.
On Monday the Australian government pledged that it would do whatever it takes to fund relief efforts. Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be dedicating an additional $1.4 billion to rebuilding destroyed buildings and infrastructure lost in the flames.
What this means for our future
Long-term dry conditions, low rainfall and droughts all over the globe have gotten worse over recent decades, which puts climate change at the top of the list as a factor in these fires. We have the responsibility and the opportunity to make simple changes in our daily lives to help reduce future damages. Ultimately, this means using energy more wisely. By continuing the global push for cleaner, healthier energy we will be equipping future generations with the tools needed to help our planet thrive.
There are many ways you can help, but the number one opportunity is finding common ground with those who may not share the same perspective on this topic. Talking openly about climate change can help cultivate empathy and open minds. This is the only way we can move forward on climate solutions.
Here’s how you can help Australia fight and recover from the wildfires
- Donate to Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria and the NSW Rural Fire Service in New South Wales. You can also give to local fire fighting brigades through the NSW Rural Fire Service’s link.
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has exceeded its initial goal of $25,000 but is still taking donations via a GoFundMe campaign. The funds will be used to distribute drinking water stations in areas burned by wildfire, as well as to establish a wild koala breeding program. It is estimated that more than 8,000 koalas may have been killed by the fires, pushing the species closer to the brink of extinction. The hospital is working on locating koalas and bringing them into the hospital to be rehydrated and treated for burns.
- Donate to the Australian Red Cross who has helped more than 18,600 people affected by fires and heatwaves since July. Their teams are focused on supporting Australians at evacuation centers and providing psychological first aid to abate trauma. You can support them and donate here.