The Australian bushfires have already claimed the lives of many people and millions of animals but it’s not over yet. Minn Yap has everything you need to know about what’s going on right now and how you can help.
Over 10 million hectares of land across the continent, scorched.
Over 2000 homes, destroyed.
At least 30 people, four of whom were brave firefighters, killed.
In every state by the end of December, temperatures soared beyond 40 degrees Celsius.
Air quality in Sydney measured 11 times the hazardous level in December.
Hundreds of indigenous cultural and spiritual sites have been damaged or destroyed.
More than half of all Australians have been directly affected.
And half a billion animals, and more at the time of writing, dead.
Bushfires are nothing new to the continent; occurring every year during their summers – triggered often by natural causes like lightning strikes and then high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds causing the rapid spread of fire.
Yet this exceptionally destructive bushfire season is exacerbated by climate change; increasing global temperatures has Australia experiencing severe droughts in recent decades. Stefan Rahmstorf, department head at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and a lead author of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, says that “due to enhanced evaporation in warmer temperatures, the vegetation and the soils dry out more quickly.
“So even if the rainfall didn’t change, just the warming in itself would already cause a drying of vegetation and therefore increased fire risk.”
What this spells for Australia is the possibility of increasingly worse bushfire seasons in the near future.
But for now, the bushfire season and Summer itself is nowhere near ending, for they are still blazing across Australia as I write this, which you can track here.
Below is a list of possible organisations that you can donate to (courtesy of user ‘TBDID’ on the Australia Subreddit):
- ChangePath: Helps you find charities that matter to you, with ratings for their transparency.
- WIRES: Help native animals survive and recover.
- RSPCA: Animal Protection Society, domestic animal focus.
- Animal Welfare League: On the ground with mobile vet centres in crisis areas – relies on donations.
- Wildlife Victoria: Protecting wildlife through their rescue, education, and advocacy activities.
- Taronga Zoo Conservation Program: Emergency appeal for assistance is native animal conservation.
- Australian Conservation Foundation: Australia’s national environment organisation. Independent, non-partisan and funded by donations.
- Australian Marine Conservation Society: An independent charity, staffed by a committed group of scientists, educators and passionate advocates.
- Rural and Remote Mental Health: Delivering early intervention and prevention based mental health programs Australia-wide.
- HeadSpace: For young people who need help with mental health, physical health (including sexual health), alcohol and other drugs or work and study support.
- Men’s Shed: Bringing men together to facilitate positive lifestyle choices and health outcomes.
- LifeLine: Providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
- BeyondBlue: Information and support to help everyone in Australia with their mental health.
- Need for Feed: Providing donated hay, pet food and essentials to drought and fire-affected farmers in Australia.
- BlazeAid: Helps to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.
- Victorian Farmer’s Federation: Coordinating fodder relief for farmers affected by bushfires in Gippsland and the Upper Murray.
- NSW Farmer’s Association: Providing relief to farmers affected in NSW.
- Thread Together: Works with clothing retailers to provide clothes in various emergency situations.
- Human Appeal: Working with the Australian Islamic Centre to provide emergency supplies to people in evacuation centres.
Individual Community Relief
- Save Mogo: a fund to help Mogo, another beautiful heritage town destroyed in the last few days.
Greater Community Relief
- Kangaroo Island Fire Fund: A beautiful island and community in South Australia that has been badly effected by fire in the last few days.
- Cudgewa Fire Fund: ALL money will go to the #Cudgewa3705 community and surrounding area.
- Mallacoota Bushfire Relief: Lions Club bushfire relief fund.
Major Community Relief
- Red Cross Disaster Recovery: Providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people to get in touch with their loved ones.
- Salvation Army Disaster Appeal: Providing meals to evacuees and front line responders and will continue to provide whatever support is needed.
- St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal: Helping those affected with food, clothing, furniture, other essentials, and funds to pay bills.
- CWA Disaster Relief Fund: The Country Women’s Association distributes funds and assistance to those in their community who need it most.
- Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund: Relief fund for South Eastern VIC.
- RFS Donations: The Rural Fire Service is stretched beyond belief.
- VIC CFA: The VIC Fire service also desperately needs donations.
- South Australia Disaster Relief: As the fires in SA get worse, the premier there has activated the disaster relief fund.
- SES (State Emergency Service), NSW / VIC / SA: Helps Australians in emergency situations.
The recent rains have extinguished some of the fires, but there are also consequences: The Guardian reports that hundreds of thousands (and more now) of native fish are estimated to have died in northern New South Wales after the rains washed the ash and sludge from bushfires into the Macleay River.
Mainstream media may have slowed down on reporting on the bushfires, but the fight is not over.
Not for a long time.
Image by bertknot on Flickr