For my first environmental-related bulletin, l have chosen to bring attention to the Australian bushfires and provide details and clarity on it.
But more crucially, how we can respond to it.
What is going on?
Simply? Australia is on fire. Harrowingly.
In case you haven’t been aware, or not had the opportunity to follow much coverage, Southern Australia’s environment, known as the outback, has been experiencing extreme heat resulting in extensive bushfires.
Now, while attention surrounding these bushfires has surged recently, the Australia bushfires actually began in mid-July 2019.
Around the time the Amazonian fires were receiving worldwide attention.
Can you begin to see a reoccurring theme?Namely:
- The Australian bushfires began far earlier than mainstream or social media might have made you thought
- There are so many natural disasters occurring worldwide, it’s difficult to track them all and also hint to the state of the environment more broadly
You can read a post on the importance of businesses and their relationship to sustainable development on protecting the environment, here.
Some argue the Australia bushfires generally, are normal, or to be expected. In that, it is people’s reactions driven by climate change hysteria and broader sustainability movements that are blowing this out of proportion.
The bushfires in the bigger picture
But that misses the point.
Primarily, because it isn’t about the Australian bushfires occurring at all. But the rate and intensity at which the bushfires have and continue to spread.
- Over 14.5 million – yes MILLION, acres of land have been burnt
- 6 times that of the Amazonian fires which received global attention in August 2019
- 500, 000, 000 animals have perished – half a BILLION
- 30% of Koalas have died as they are slowing-moving and hence cannot escape the bushfires
All this over 6 months.
By comparison, the worst ever before these bushfires came in 1974 when over 3.5 million hectares of the outback burnt.
Or, put another way.
- 3.5 million hectares = 8.65 million acres.
- Or 14.5 million acres = 5.85 million hectares.
And so that means these ongoing Australian bushfires are near twice the size of the previous worst in 1974.Righ now being 3.5 times the size of Wales in the United Kingdom or Belgium in Western Europe or even Ireland.
And that’s just the environment.
Measuring the humanitarian effects of the bushfires
From a humanitarian standpoint, things remain grave. New South Wales, in the south-east, has been the worst-hit, with 130 bushfires, but the crises stretch across Southern Australia too.The Australia bushfires stand as:
- The death toll continues to rise reaching of 30 as of January 5th
- Over 1500 individual homes and buildings decimated
- The town of Balmoral destroyed
- Some fires reaching 70m – that’s taller than the Sydney Opera House
- 1000s of residents and tourists alike have had to flee or be evacuated by the Australian military
Also, there has been the growing consensus surrounding the input and presence of the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who despite acutely aware of bushfire crises felt it suitable enough to holiday in Hawaii in late-December…
Yes, take a vacation at a time of unprecedented national crises.
However, this quickly changed once Morrison realised the errors of his ways. But only to be heckled and heavily criticised by professionals and the public alike.
Including a women taking her goat for a walk.
You know, as you do.
Meanwhile Morrison’s efforts at leadership, arguably remain incredibly inadequate and his transparency questionable.
What do the bushfires mean?
Well, unsurprisingly a hell-of-a-lot.
The bushfires have been exacerbated by the unparalleled temperatures Australian has seen this summer, with the entire country witnessing 40+ Celsius.
For the first time in Australia’s history.
And is adding to the reason people are freaking out and emphasising climate change as a broader, contributing factor to making normally expected bushfires into a national crisis.
Equally, a specific climate process – the Indian Ocean Dipole – has been the main driver.
- This means that the Indian Ocean in the west, near North-West Africa, is far hotter comparative to the cool east side bordering Australia
- So, this imbalance causes droughts and no rainfall, which would be the main factor in combating bushfires Australia frequently experiences
- But this dipole is the harshest its been in years too, making this spill-over to Australia unsurprising
So effectively, this only underlines how much everything is connected and that we should consider how the processes of one thing will likely lead to another.
The Australian bushfires 2019 aren’t started by climate change.
But they are certainly exacerbated by it, as they are harsher, longer-lasting and more resilient from attempts to extinguish them.
2019 was Australia’s hottest year – much like essentially everywhere globally.
Just look at the heatwaves of Europe.
What’s more, when fires burn, they release the primary culprit of climate change – carbon dioxide.
This creates a feedback loop which traps in more heat and so just makes the conditions for the fires to occur even higher!
Estimates have been made that 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide been released…
Requiring 100+ years to be processed naturally!
I appreciate these numbers will be challenging to contextualise, but the point is, they are stupidly large, and this poses very significant repercussions for ourselves if we are not proactive in responding.
The bushfires globally
Beyond that, entire ecosystems have been transformed, if not lost entirely.
The biodiversity of these areas wholly undone with some experts even suggesting it could lead to the EXTINCTION of some certain local species.Indeed, the relationship of the Australian bushfires and koalas is the symbol of the crisis, simply because of the extent the koalas are being affected.
Seriously, the numbers of koalas dying out from the Australia bushfires is hard to fathom, hard to really put into words. Any number of animal deaths is too many.
That is the point.
And there are the 1000s of victims whose lives are forever different.
People unable to simply return to their lives and having to reassess just how they continue from here.
As mentioned, a few entire towns have been lost, which will mean a larger-scale impact on the regional social and economic conditions.
And it’s likely, based on the political response – or lack of – there may be a significant impact in how Australia is governed.
Plus there is the extensive smoke passing from Australia to New Zealand causing the glaciers of New Zealand to turn brown.
A distance of over 1200 miles.
That, if anything, once again underlines the interconnectedness of Australia’s bushfire crisis.
And that we all have an interest in responding.
Finally, it’s likely that these bushfires may produce a broader movement, within Australia, but globally to actively take preventative measures to protect fragile environments.
Something, l think we cannot really get enough of.
How to deal with the bushfires?
Well, right now the best thing you can do is…
Fundraising for the Australian bushfires is the quickest and most effective way to ensure financial support gets to the necessary groups as efficiently as possible.
These charities are right on the frontlines and which would see support go the furthest:
- Australian Red Cross – supporting the evacuation
- Salvation Army Australia – providing meals and first responders
- World Wildlife Fund Australia – leading efforts for Koala conservation
- RSPCA New South Wales – helping protect and rescue threatened wildlife
Equally, people are offering up their homes via Airbnb.
So, perhaps if you are in the area, or know of those nearby, offering accommodation as an emergency housing is an option.
The intensity and immensity of the Australian bushfires 2019 make it, heartbreakingly, near impossible to effectively combat nor prevent them.
It’s a case of damage limitation.
Fighting bushfires over the long-term
To limit how the fires spread and adequately manage the communities affected to ensure their losses, be that monetarily, emotionally or physically, are addressed.
Effective disaster management requires making hard choices but ones which will have lasting, accommodating improvements.
Natural disasters are financial disasters.
So, while it may seem expensive to develop support programmes, income support for those who lose jobs, or retraining others who have to switch, the costs from inaction will be far higher.
Apart from donating, there are other ways to help:
- Run your internet searches via Ecosia – they use profits to plant trees and can be added to chrome
- Contact your representatives, those who hold power to influence and induce change – especially if they are not doing enough and hold them accountable
- Raise awareness – communicating and educating others is always the best way to ensure a long-term difference
- Engaging in some fundraising for Australian bushfires
For me, it’s a case of being proactive instead of reactive.
I encourage you to do what you can – we all have an interest in ensuring the stability and quality of the environment since, well, we all live here!
And do your best to keep it at the forefront of people’s minds.
Don’t let it fall off the radar.
Or be replaced by something else.
Because of this crisis, along with increasingly common heatwaves, the Amazonian fires, decreasing biodiversity’s, African poaching…
Need l go on?
…Are simply too important to become overlooked.
So, take a moment to consider just how you can make that difference.
It could be as simple as sharing this post!
How do you think we should respond to the Australia bushfires long-term? How can we better protect the environment?
Leave me a comment.