AUSTRALIA ON FIRE
The fires in Australia are continuing to destroy millions of acres of forest territory. Billions of animals have lost their life and thousands of people have joined forces to help tame the fire disaster. We take a look at the statistics and what you can do to help
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Gez Xavier
11 January 2020
Australia has been going through severe drought this year. Multiple bushfires across the southeast of the country have started to spread to form what is the most devastating fire crisis in the recent history. There are different reasons for the fires to form, from lightnings to nature factors and human actions. The fires quickly spread - a bushfire typically spreads twice as fast as a forest fire and their speed can increese from temperature, humidity and other external factors. The emergency situation on the continent has been covered by multiple media across the globe, yet the danger has not passed yet. We take a look at some of the statistics to summarise what happened since the fires started spreading and how this affected the country.
The fires started in September 2019. Since then there are 25.5 million acres that have been estimated to have burned. This number is expected to rise. Megafires continue to form as fires merge together. The fires are mainly concentrated in New South Wales and Victoria, but they have managed to spread to every single state. To compare, the fires that happened last year in the Amazon rainforest were 2.2 million acres. In the California fires 2 million acres were destroyed.
About 2 000 homes have been destroyed in what is the most devastating fire season in the Australian history. A total of 25 people lost their life. Many firefighters have joined forces to help contain the fires - 2 700 in total as of last weekend and the number has gone up.
It is hard to put down in writing what is the damage for nature and the animal kingdom. The ecosystem is severely shaken as 1 billion animals are lost as result of the fires. Some of them have died from factors caused by them such as loss of habitat, dehydration and disorientation. Over 8 000 koalas have died in the fires, which is a third of the koalas. Animals depend on each other to survive in those forests. The loss of a species, even a change in the habitat, will reflect majorly upon the whole ecosystem and reshape the function of the animal kingdom.
A record-breaking heatwave has started to spread on the continent. The country was already going through its driest and hottest year so far before the fire disaster took place. Record breaking temperatures of over 40°C have been recorded. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s 2018 State of the Climate report since 1910 the temperature in Asutralia has increased with just over 1°C. The smoke that thickens the air has been measured to damage the air quality, making it 11 times the hazardous level.
Victoria declared a state of disaster and NSW is under a state of emergency. State and federal authorities are combining forces to help prevent the situation from becoming more extreme. The numbers of firefighters that are working in designated areas have increased and several fundraisers have been organised to help gather financial support for Australia. A new National Bushfire Recovery Agency has been formed by the government to help with the disaster.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
WIRES Wildlife Rescue - the organisation is rasing emergency funds.
The Intrepid Foundation - your donation to the organisation will help in the fight of restoring the forests.
Adelaide Koala Rescue - more than a third of the koalas in Australia are dead because of the fires. Through this organisation you can help rescue and take care of the koalas that are currently in danger.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital - the hospital focuses on preserving and rescuing injured koalas.
The CVS Foundation of Volunteer Firefighters - this team of volunteers are working around-the-clock to help with the fire emergency.
Celeste Barber's Facebook Fundraser - the comedian is raising money through social media. It only takes a minute to donate and even thoush Celeste has already topped the amount of money she was hoping to raise, every financial help will make an extreme difference.