In April of 2019, the Amazon Rainforest caught fire and 2.2 million acres were burned. In California alone this past year, there were just short of 7,000 wildfires recorded and 250,000 acres burned. Now word is spreading quickly regarding the wildfires in Australia with 12 million acres of land burned that continues to become more intense and damaging every day.
Twelve. Million. Acres.
24. Lives. Lost.
This wildfire has been ongoing for months but just recently was getting out of hand. The US, Canada, and New Zealand stepped in and offered help to Australia.
Because of climate change, we have been seeing more and more natural disasters occur, especially wildfires. The Earth's temperature is rising and the land is becoming drier. This is causing wildfires to become powerful, move swifter and challenging to tame.
Those who reside in New South Wales and Victoria are being evacuated from their homes, unsure if they will have one when the fires have been calmed. New South Wales is now in a state of emergency. Smoke from the fire is spreading quick and putting those who reside by these fires at risk for respiratory illness.
The Australian government brought out the Navy's largest ship to help rescue those stranded along the coastline. This is the largest military deployment in Australia since WWII. (npr.org)
Koala's, kangaroo's, and platypus' are all losing their homes and habitat too, it has been estimated that 1/3 of their habitat has already been dissipated.
"Professor Chris Dickman at the University of Sydney estimates that 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been affected in the state of New South Wales since September." (npr.org)
Koalas are not fast-moving animals and struggle with getting away from the fire in time. This has resulted in many of them being burned alive, the few lucky ones have been rescued and brought to animal hospitals for immediate medical care.
When the Amazon Rainforest was on fire, most of us learned that it provides us with 20% of the world's oxygen and that it is considered home to half of the world's species of plants and animals. (ecoage.com)
But did you know that it is also home to 1 million indigenous people?
While some wildfires can occur naturally, the degree that they are happening and how often is unnatural and is offsetting ecosystems as well as increasing the carbon footprint. Natural Geographic stated that from 2018 to 2019, forest fires have increased by 80%.
85-90% of wildfires are because of humans. Whether it's because a fire was left unattended or a cigarette butt was not disposed of properly. Arson is also a cause of many fires, including farmers who burn land to make room for cattle, or any other non-forest use - this is also known as deforestation.
As temperatures continue to rise, and climate change continues to go unacknowledged by governments, it becomes up to the people, to every individual to take it upon themselves and demand change.
It's hard not to feel helpless when situations like this are happening in other parts of the world. But everyone can help one way or another, small or big. I've created a list below (with links) of different ways you can help.
1. Donate, if you can spare anything, you can donate to the below. Skip the iced coffee today and make a small donation. It's amazing what we can do when we all come together.
b. County Fire Authority in Victoria - they support volunteer firefighters.
d. WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) - they rescue and care for wildlife such as Koalas and Kangaroos.
2. Support Companies that protect the rainforest, or use it responsibly. Beef, Soy (which is typically used to feed livestock), Palm Oil, Wood Pulp (or as clothing, it's called Rayon), are often sourced illegally in the Amazon. Farmers burn the land to make room for cattle or Palm oil plantations. This is one of the leading causes of wildfires.
3. Read what you buy! Look for the FSC label, which signifies that the product has been made from responsibly managed forests. This also goes hand in hand with point #2. Know where your food, clothing, etc came from. Chances are when you find out you'll want to buy it elsewhere that has more ethical practices. And I'm sure you can find a better alternative if needed.
4. Eat less meat and animal-based products. Livestock produces methane gas which is 28X higher effect than carbon dioxide. Livestock also adds to water pollution and loss of biodiversity. You don't have to become entirely vegetarian or vegan, but try to cut things out here or there when you can. #meatlessmonday's
5. Support politicians that believe in Climate Change and want to help put a stop to it. This is probably the most important point to take away from this entire post.
6. Keep talking, sharing, making these issues relevant. The more that people talk, the more attention it'll attract. The more attention, the more likely bigger corporations, or even the government will initiate change.
“We’re all adapted to a certain amount of disturbance. I can get a certain number of colds per year and be OK, but if I’m sick for eight months in a row, that’s really going to wear on me. That’s the same thing with an ecosystem.” (Stevens-Rumann, nbcnews.com)
I urge you, who is reading this to take the time and truly think about what little changes to your lifestyle you can make that will be a little less harmful to the environment. Whether it is second-hand shopping, bringing a reusable coffee cup or switching over to renewable energy in your house. Every change, every voice counts. Climate change is real, our home is on fire, and it's up to all of us to help make a difference for the better.