Everything you Need to Know About the Australian Wildfires

A house burning in Lake Conjola, New South Wales, on New Year’s Eve.

Credit:Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

If you've been paying any attention to recent news, you're probably aware that Australia is currently facing an onslaught of devastating fires. The severity of these fires cannot be understated. And although we all know the fires are serious, many may be wondering about the true severity of the damage. Here are some basic facts about the Australian fires, along with some information about how we can help:

 

Australia's fire season began in late July, and since then, they have faced a series of abnormally unyielding wildfires. Factors such as prolonged drought and the implications of climate change have only fanned the flames of Australia's devastating fires. Reports state that approximately 17.9 million acres of land have been ravaged by fires, destroying over 1,500 homes. Among the destruction, 28 people have died. 

The most staggering number, however, is the amount of animals affected by the blaze. Roughly half a billion animals have been affected, with millions likely dead. Another threat comes in the form of lost habitats and limited food resources; any animal lucky enough to survive the fires will struggle to find food in the charred and barren landscape. This is particularly serious in terms of wildlife conservation, as Australia is home to many animals and plants that are considered threatened. Species that are expected to have 80% of their habitat affected include the long-footed potoroo, the glossy black-cockatoo, and the Blue Mountains water skink, among others. The Kangaroo Island dunnart, a mouse-like marsupial, is considered to be the most affected species. 

Australian states such as Victoria and New South Wales have declared a state of disaster and emergency, respectively. This has allowed for more resources to be allocated to dealing with the fires. The apocalyptic conditions continue to make worldwide news, eliciting an outpouring of support. The US, Canada, and New Zealand have all provided additional firefighters to assist the likely exhausted Australian firefighters. 

Despite these efforts, there seems to be no end in sight. The fires continue to rage and make worldwide news. Australian citizens and animals continue to suffer, and many feel helpless in the midst of such catastrophic and deplorable circumstances. As of right now, the best way to show support for Australia is to donate. The Australian Red Cross, the NSW rural fire service, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, all welcome donations. 

 

(Information sourced from "Australia's deadly wildfires are showing no signs of stopping. Here's what you need to know," Jessie Yeung, CNN & "More than 100 threatened species hit hard by Australian bushfires, pushing many towards extinction," Adam Morton, The Guardian)