The Earth is on Fire... Here's what's going on
Updated: Apr 30
Following the second warmest year on record, 2020 thus far has been filled with gut-wrenching photos and statistics detailing the bushfire crisis in Australia. Australia is one of multiple different countries across the world to have experienced devastating wildfires over the last year. Starting with California in 2018, the fires in the Amazon rainforest in fall of 2019 and now the fires in Australia, the effects of climate change and the devastation they have inflicted are becoming increasingly apparent.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, increasing global temperatures due to climate change dry out soil faster and make vegetation more flammable. This, combined with winter snowpack melting earlier, results in dry areas being dry for longer spans of time. The causes of the fires in California, the Amazon and Australia still remain largely under speculation; however, there is significant evidence pointing to human-action, such as deforestation, campfires and cigarette butts being the primary causes for the fires in conjunction with the increased atmospheric temperatures and more extreme weather patterns.
Record high temperatures, drought, and low humidity results in the fires being so severe, all of which are anticipated to be a direct result of climate change. In the case of the Australian wildfires, the cause of the fires is being attributed to over 24 different individuals charged with lighting fires in spite of the fire bans in place. There are over 100 people still under investigation for not complying with those same regulations.
The smoke from these mass fires in Australia and Indonesia have majorly affected other countries and their own air quality. The Indonesian fires in 2019 scorched over 1.6 million hectares and fogged up both Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia half a million masks were distributed to citizens that were deep in the haze.
The Denver Zoo recently started a campaign to collect donations to send to Zoos Victoria in Australia and aid in animal-rescue efforts by local wildlife organizations. Zoos Victoria is working at the forefront of the burn areas. In total, the zoo was able to donate over $93,000 dollars to Zoos Victoria, all of which is going to help rehabilitate and rescue injured animals.
Carlie McGuire, the PR Director for the Denver Zoological Foundation, talked about the importance of the global community in supporting one another in the wake of wildfire devastation.
“Whether wildlife is in your backyard or across the world, it has an impact on your life, and that’s what’s at the heart of Denver Zoo – encouraging people to care about wildlife and what their role is in helping preserve it for future generations.”
McGuire also talked about the need to be aware of the impacts the wildfires have, both within Australia and all over the globe.
“When there are reports that estimate we’ve lost more than a half million animals, that matters. That will have an effect on our whole world and our fragile ecosystem. So people should be engaged and aware about what’s going on, and see what could be a long term impact of these fires, and how they can make small changes or small donations to help.”
News will inevitably move on from covering the wildfires, regardless if they continue to burn or not. Continuing to talk about what is occurring is crucial in maintaining awareness for what is occurring all over the world.
“We have to keep talking about the fires, they’re still going on, animals are going to need help for months and even years after they end. So don’t forget about Australia after the headlines move on,” McGuire said.
The Australian wildfires have affected many people, not only in Australia, but around the world as well. While people are distracted living their day to day lives, others are losing their homes to the rapidly increasing infernos. The wildfires are still causing problems for the environment and habitats in Australia, and across the world.