The bush fires that continue to ravage much of New South Wales and the rest of Australia are causing more and more damage every single day. There is a rising human death toll, people are losing their homes forcing them to camp out on beaches under a burnt orange sky, and nearly half a billion animals have perished.
These numbers are increasing each day, and the impact on Australia’s delicate ecosystem is devastating. Heartbreaking images and stories of injured and dead kangaroos and koala bears have been all over everyone’s news feeds. Desperate times like this have bridged the divide between animals and humans like never before, such as in the case of this teenaged boy and a frightened young joey.
Burnt Young Kangaroo Comes to Teenaged Boy for Help
While normally wildlife tends to stay away from their human neighbors, these fires are showing just how desperate the situation has become. Photos have been posted showing one young kangaroo who sought the help of a teenage boy after being forced to flee its home.
The small ‘roo, who was suffering from burns too much of its body, approached the boy in his own backyard. The boy first cautiously showered the animal with water from a watering can. After establishing trust between the two of them, the boy brought the thirsty kangaroo a bowl of water. He comforted the animal by holding its paw while it drank.
Australia was unprepared
The executive director of Science for Wildlife in Australia Dr. Kellie Leigh says that this has been a major wake-up call for wildlife rescue and conservation groups.
“We’re getting a lot of lessons out of this and it’s just showing how unprepared we are. There’s no procedures or protocols in place – even wildlife carers don’t have protocols for when they can go in after fire.” (1)
As the fires continue to burn and the loss of human, plant, and animal life continues to rise, many are left wondering how this came to be and what they can do to make a difference.
What caused the Australian Bush Fires?
Bush fire season happens every year in Australia. The indigenous people have known for thousands of years that the bushfires play an important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. They also understand the importance of bushfire management: controlling the fires so that they improve the ecosystem without causing immense damage. (1)
How the fires start each season can be attributed to both natural factors, such as a lightning bolt, and human factors, such as a discarded cigarette. (1) What causes the fires to grow and spread is a complex combination of factors (1):
- Drought and dryness
- High winds
- Extreme temperatures
Australia has been experiencing its hottest, driest summer ever recorded (2). This has been paired with extreme winds that are spreading the fires faster than the firefighters can keep up.
Weather like this is only due to one thing: Climate change. (2)
How you can help
It seems scary, overwhelming, and out of control. For those of us who live far away, it may be confusing to figure out how you can help. Below are a few organizations that should you choose to donate, your money will go to good use:
- Australia Red Cross
- Salvation Army Australia
- Saint Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies)
- Global Relief Run
Specifically for animals, you can donate to:
This is a Global Crisis
Though it is Australia that is currently on fire, do not be mistaken: this is a global problem.
Climate change is real, and disasters such as this are becoming far too common-place. It is easy to feel hopeless, like all of this is out of your control. I assure you, however, it is not! There are so many ways we can lower our own carbon footprint and make our daily lives more sustainable, such as:
- Ditch single-use plastic (including items like bottled shampoo, plastic toothbrushes, and toothpaste tubes!)
- Modify your transit: Walk, bike, take public transit, and carpool whenever possible.
- Fly less, bundle your trips, choose sustainability-focused airlines, and offset your emissions.
- Boycott fast fashion: Buy from sustainable producers and shop at thrift stores.
- Eat less animal products. When you do, buy from ethical and sustainable sources.
- Petition your government: You can demand change!
There are so many ways you can live more environmentally-friendly and encourage others to do the same. It is not too late, we can reverse the effects of climate change if we start now.
Remember this: Reversing climate change is not about a few people doing sustainability perfectly, but instead everyone doing it imperfectly.
Start small and make changes every day. When we all do it, it will make a world of a difference.
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