Fires Down Under

Photo Credit: CSIRO

 

A bushfire in the beautiful land of Australia is not an uncommon sight. In fact, it is a natural occurrence that has helped shape the biodiversity of the nation’s ecosystem. However since it began, the most recent “bushfire season” has caused a surge of fear and panic in the hearts of Australians and people all around the world.

 

Photo Credit: proestategroup

 

The destruction

As of now, at least 6 million hectares of bush, forest and parks have been burnt while the rest of Australia remains wary. Reportedly, 27 people have lost their lives to the relentless fires.

As of 7 January 2020, sightings of smoke from the Australian bushfire have been reported in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. In other words, the smoke has travelled at least 12,000km in the air.

 

(L-R) Mountain Pygmy Mouse (Photo by: Australian Alps), Glossy Black Cockatoo (Photo by: Aviceda), Corroboree Frog (Photo by: Australian Alps)

In its wake, many natural habitats have been burnt down and the fires continue to ravage the ecosystem. In a YouTube video released by the Australian Academy of Science, it’s been estimated that over a billion animals have been killed by the fires. 

Reportedly, some native animals that were already classified as critically endangered such as the Bright Yellow Corroboree Frog, the Mountain Pygmy Possum and the Glossy Black Cockatoo may face extinction altogether.

 

 

Photo Credit: Nick Carson

 

How did it get this bad?

While a bushfire is natural, there is nothing “normal” about this one. While fingers are being pointed left and right as to how the fire started, one thing’s for certain; the effects of climate change have made it worse. 

The rise in climatic temperature, aided by the absence of rain, has made this fire an unstoppable force of nature. The strong winds also play a large part in speeding up the spread of the fires along the South-Eastern coast of Australia.

 

Photo Credit: Gerald Vickers

 

Was It Preventable?

As mentioned earlier, a bushfire is a pretty natural occurrence during the dry season in Australia. However the damage of a bushfire can be mitigated!

Many counter-measures have been (and continue to be) taken by the Australian government to lessen the risk of damage caused by the fires. While one cannot control the existence of a bushfire, one can certainly influence the way it behaves.

Bushfires (alike all other fires) require something to burn to exist. As part of their Hazard Reduction programme, the Australian government manages their “fuel” load by partaking in prescribed burnings and the removal of vegetation from their national parks.

Wherever you are, here are some tips on how you could execute your own Hazard Reduction programme:

  1. Don’t litter. Something seemingly harmless like a piece of plastic wrapper or a used tissue paper may act as “fuel” to the flames.
  2. Dispose combustibles responsibly. Alike the point above, simply tossing your cigarette butts into the drain or on the grass is a definite “no”. This rule applies for lighters and matches as well.
  3. Trim your bushes. If your house has a garden or a lawn, keep it neat! Dispose of dried leaves as frequently as you can and ensure that you keep trimming the grass.

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

How can you help?

While we leave the actual fire fighting to the brave firefighters who risk their lives for the safety of others, there are ways in which we could help our friends from down under. 

Whether you’re simply scrolling through your timeline or you’re actually looking it up, you’re bound to find many charity organisations who are aiding the on-going tragedy. However, be mindful of false claims and possible scams!

If you have a charity in mind or have seen one online but you’re unsure of their credibility, you may look up their organisation on this website here

 

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