Australia is having a terrible year for wildfires. It’s one of the worst on record and is devastating to a continent that is experiencing awful drought and some of the warmest days on record.
Many of the worst fires are in New South Whales, surroudning the large city of Sydney in Southeastern Australia. But the fires have been burning around most of the country other than the extreme inland areas. Much of the areas where the fires are burning are forests or brush land, and the interior of Australia is desert. Desert rarely burns but dry, suffering forests certainly do.
From a satellite, you can see the plumes of smoke running up and down the coast and pouring into the atmosphere. Brushfires are normal, but the scale is unprecedented. A long, bad drought, extreme heat, and human interference is all tied to anthropomorphic climate change and is leading to one big, bad experience for the humans and wildlife of the continent. Oh, and winter here is summer in Australia… so, prime fire time. Some of the areas burning haven’t seen much – if any – rain since 2017. November was the driest month on record for parts of Australia.
Australia is on track to see 13 million or more acres burned this year. That’s like if half of the state of Ohio burned down. But fires also lead to mudslides, lost habitat, last homes, and decreased water and air quality. Most people can at least move or stay inside. Most animals are stuck.
During these fires, hundreds of homes have been lost or damaged. Any as for the wildlife, in 1 24 hour period, 100 koalas died. And those are only the ones we know about. Here are some of the current numbers: 25 people have died, 1525 homes destroyed, over 400 million mammals, reptiles, and birds killed.
But, hey! We can all help!
Koalas in Care: Non-profit that helps koalas and other Australian wildlife.
WIRES: Wildlife rescue and emergency funds.
New South Wales Rural Fire Service: These are the folks literally on the ground fighting these fires.
Givit: Australian disaster relief non-profit.