Australia: Burning a Hole in our Hearts

An overview of the fires blazing Australia

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Australia: Burning a Hole in our Hearts

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 19: Fire and Rescue personal watch a bushfire as it burns near homes on the outskirts of the town of Bilpin on December 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.   (Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 19: Fire and Rescue personal watch a bushfire as it burns near homes on the outskirts of the town of Bilpin on December 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)

PC: David Gray

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 19: Fire and Rescue personal watch a bushfire as it burns near homes on the outskirts of the town of Bilpin on December 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)

PC: David Gray

PC: David Gray

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 19: Fire and Rescue personal watch a bushfire as it burns near homes on the outskirts of the town of Bilpin on December 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)

Aya Kasim, Staff Writer

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News of endless fire outbursts in Australia continue to reach us at school,  home, and on social media. With updates coming in by the dozens, it has become difficult to absorb the details and paint the big picture. So, what is happening in Australia and what is the severity of the issue?

The fires, also referred to as bush- or wildfires, have been burning through Australia since September of 2019. Australia typically experiences fire seasons every couple of years due to its hot and dry climate, but it has never reached such an uncontainable extent.

 Because of the long lasting droughts,  human misaction, and climate change, this year’s fires have escalated to a dangerous new level. Fires have hit every Australian territory/state and have encompassed the continent in flames and smoke. 

Since most of Australias’ population lives on its south-eastern coast, the fires scorching the states of New South Wales and Victoria now, have affected the majority of livelihoods. With state of emergencies and evacuations ordered, tens of thousands of Australians have fled their homes. According to BBC news, 1,900 homes have been destroyed. The impact of such drastic conditions have been felt around the world. 

“My family lives in Noosa [Australia] and they were evacuated from their home,” junior Abigail Legrande said. “What’s happening is obviously horrible, but it’s even worse knowing my family is in danger.”

Once a fire has erupted, the weather in surrounding areas changes and, ultamilty, results in more fires. Increased winds and lightning continue to spread the disaster into other regions. The terrible air conditions that have even reached parts of New Zealand and far away cities and towns are said to equal smoking 37 cigarettes when inhaled.  

However, though humans have greatly been affected by these fires, it seems the true victims are the animals and their ecosystems. Over one billion animals have died and many species are closer to extinction. The koala, a beloved animal native to Australia, has lost ⅓ of its population–80,000–in New South Wales. But, also, smaller species, especially ones commonly found in a few regions, are believed to be hit the hardest. Habitats have been scorched. Water, food, and shelter are scarce even now to the animals that have survived. 

“Everything has a role,” sophomore Helena Allen said. “Everyone wants to save the cute stuff, but every animal is important.” 

Several Australian citizens have taken the initiative to save, feed, and hydrate any animal they encounter. To restrengthen harmed populations, thousands of pounds of vegetables have been dropped  by helicopters to animals whose food sources have been burned.

   Australia’s firefighters, many being volunteers, have now been working restlessly for months. Firefighters from Canada and the United States have also made the trip down under to aid the burning nation. As of now, 27 deaths have been reported–three of which being volunteer firefighters. 

News of Australia’s current struggles have reached millions around the globe–especially through social media. Celebrities such as Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, Chris Hemsworth, Elton John, Leonardo Decaprio, and Kylie Jenner have each donated large amounts of money, varying from $500,000 to $3 million to organizations fighting the fires. 

However, despite these contributions and the efforts put forth, any scientists say that the fires are nowhere near their end–that such tragedies are bound to continue for days or even weeks. 

The stop of boiling temperatures and the clearing of orange skies is wished by all Australians, but many know that the fight will not be over when the fires end. Australia will need years to rebuild and reestablish itself to its previous state. According to AccuWeather, the total damage and economic loss caused by the Australia wildfires from September 2019 and 2020 will be $110 billion. 

Many blame the recent environmental events in Australia on climate change. According to Newsscientist.com, a 2008 report commissioned by the Australian government predicted that by 2020, global warming would cause Australia’s fire seasons to start earlier, end later, and be more intense. Australians are frustrated with their government officials, because of the close ties they bare to oil companies and their refusal to accept that these conditions have been brought on by climate change. 

“It has become a pendulum swing of extremes: very cold winters and very hot summers,” biology teacher Alexandra Murphy said. “Countries should look inward in how they are treating events like the fires in California or the flooding in Venice. We must act before it’s too late to be proactive, because then we’ll have to be reactive.”

As of now, it seems that all we can do is watch the fires burn and hope for them to quickly die down. But, everyone can help in some way. Organizations helping Australia today including the Australian Red Cross, Australian Koala Foundation, Salvation Army Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service and many more are accepting donations now. If a donation cannot be made, please spread awareness and discuss all that has occured with those around you. Awareness leads to action and action leads to change.