What caused the fires?
Bushfires are nothing new to Australia, it has a ‘fire season’ every year. However, this time around, things got out of control. For a few decades, Australia has been getting hotter and is expected to continue to do so. This is because of the rising levels of CO2 that are warming the planet. Scientists are of the opinion that such a hot and dry climate will contribute to the fires becoming more frequent and intense.
How much have we lost?
An area about twice the size of Belgium, approximately 15 million acres, has been burned down to ashes. Although there has been fire across all six states of Australia, New South Wales is the hardest hit. The biggest fires run along the stretches of eastern and southern coast where most of the population lives; this includes Sydney and Adelaide. Around 25 people are dead, more than 1,300 houses have been destroyed and thousands of people have been displaced. The smoke has reached New Zealand, which is 1,000 miles away and created eerie scenes atop glacier-covered peaks there. Australia’s rich ecosystem and fauna have been badly affected too. Nearly half a billion animals, including mammals, birds, and reptiles have lost their lives in the fire.
What is being done?
The Australian military has sent its own aircraft, vessels, and 3,000 army reservists. Firefighters are spraying water with fire retardants from the ground as well as planes and helicopters. Help is also pouring in from the USA, Canada, and New Zealand. But, putting out bushfires is extremely difficult. According to Timothy Ingalsbee, Executive Director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, it’s not humanly possible to prevent (these fires) or put them out. Which is why the priority is to stop the fire from spreading further and to save lives.
How can you contribute?
You can make donations to Australian Red Cross to its Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. The organisation helps those affected by fires and provides support to displaced people. If you cannot donate money, they are also accepting clothing and household goods.
GIVIT is another such Australian organization, which matches donated goods with items that are specifically requested by victims of the fire. So, things like fence posts, gas pumps, car batteries, can be donated.
You can support the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which has brought 31 traumatised koalas back to safety. Besides, you can virtually adopt a koala by making a donation of AUD 55 to the World Wildlife Fund.
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