Australia is used to bushfires and firestorms. It’s a normally dry and hot country, and its forests - which are abundant in eucalyptus trees - depend on fire to be able to release their seeds. This is Australia’s unique relationship with fire.
However, the recent bushfires are one of the worst in Australia’s recorded history, and it started earlier than the nation’s usual fire season. The flames themselves are bigger and stronger than anything we’ve ever seen. A record-breaking heatwave fed these fires in historic amounts -- the country’s hottest day last December was at 107.4 degrees Fahrenheit (41.9 degrees Celsius). In addition, 2019 was Australia’s driest and hottest year in all of history.
Hot weather, low humidity, and a prolonged heatwave are all ingredients for a dangerous fire. The increasing intensity of wildfires all fall according to what scientists (not just in Australia) have been warning us about: the world is experiencing a massive climate change.
According to scientists, this series of bushfires is showing us the effects of climate change. Extreme conditions such as intense volatile heat that occurs earlier than the fire season is something that is not normal, even for Australian’s normally arid climate.
A national outcry led to criticism against Australia’s Prime Minister regarding inadequate action on climate change. The leader is known to defend the usage of coal-powered electricity, which created a lot of controversy on its own.
Ecologists and environmental scientists in the country share a common feeling that there’s not enough action on the matter. This fire may only be the beginning of the impact of climate change. Many believe that this is precisely the right time to heed the advice and findings of scientists if only to give us some idea of what is to come in the foreseeable future.
Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, worked on estimates regarding the death toll of animal species during the bushfires. He said in an interview, “We’re probably looking at what climate change may look like for other parts of the world in the first stages in Australia at the moment.”
The public voiced out its concern, too. Thousands of people went out in Melbourne, Sydney, and other cities across the country last January 10 to protest the use of fossil fuels in Australia, demanding action from the government and a massive change in leadership.
The Problem is Here, So What Can Be Done?
Not everyone has a penchant for discussing politics, so instead of arguing which leader was at fault and what should’ve been done, consider asking what can still be done -- and act on it.
Australia currently depends heavily on volunteers to fight the bushfires. Despite its sizable firefighting and army reserves, it still needs volunteer firefighters. The fire response is also partly community effort. Unlike the US (which has a centralized response system for fires and other incidents), community efforts play a huge role in Australia’s rescue and response efforts.
The military sent in 3,000 reservists from different facets of the army. Foreign support came in from the US, Canada, and other countries.
Right now, the fires, although not as expansive as a few weeks ago, are still raging. At this point, the firefighters cannot do much but wait for enough rain to fall and deal with the situation - or for the flames to run out of fuel and stop on their own. As the Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (Oregon) Executive Director Timothy Ingalsbee said, “It’s not humanly possible to prevent [these fires] or put them out.”
So the government and fire safety departments are doing what they can. We, as citizens of the world, can also do our part to help out. Here are some charities that you can donate to, to help with rescue and rehabilitation, or provide general support for the firefighters and volunteers:
- Humane Society International
- WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund
- Australian Red Cross
- St. Vincent de Paul Society
- New South Wales Rural Fire Service
- Victoria Country Fire Authority
- Country Fire Service in South Australia
- Rural Fire Brigades Association (Queensland)
This week, OPTML gives 10% of its sales to WWF Australia. We hope, in our small way, we can help with the rescue and rehabilitation of animals affected by the bushfires.
You can help them, too, by supporting OPTML products - at absolutely no added cost on your end. Plus, we’re offering free shipping on all products, sitewide, for the entire week.
Let’s help make the world a better, safer place for every living creature.