Australia fires exemplify climate concerns

In these past months, Australia has seen the temperature rise like it never has before. More than three-quarters of the country experienced record-breaking heat last year. The land has been the most fire-prone since the country first started recording in 1950; having experienced 40% less precipitation than average, Australia is beginning what its citizens have deemed the worst drought in decades.

Since September, long before the anticipated December-March fire season, Australia has suffered raging, impermeable fires. More than 40 million acres of land have burned and 34 people have died. As a result, thousands of at-risk individuals have been displaced. In New South Wales, an estimated 1,300 homes have been destroyed so far, and in Victoria, over 250,000 people have been told to evacuate their homes. Many people are left without electricity, shelter, or a route to escape.

And for indigenous people, the damage is just as irreversible. Much of the land belonging  to the Yuin people, an aboriginal group, has been devastated by fire. Not only does this include their homes and surrounding wildlife, but sacred places as well. In three months, indigenous people have lost land that has been protected for thousands of years.

Alongside effects on the human population, an estimated 1.25 billion animals will be damaged by this fire. These animals are being driven out of their habitats, starved of vegetation, and deprived of primary consumers (insects and bacteria) that are crucial to keep the food chain intact. Among livestock, 100,000 cattle will have been trapped and burned to death by the time the fires subside. The environment will suffer extensively  due to the loss of growth and wildlife. However, much-needed bouts of rain on the week of the 24th helped soothe the burning continent.

While the fires are beginning to come to a close, if you want to help, you can go online and donate to the Australian Fire Departments, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, First Nations Communities and more.