The Beginning of the End

The Fires in Australia Leave Many Wondering if This is the End of the World

As the fires continue to burn in Australia, animals flee their natural habitat looking for safety.


As the fires continue to burn in Australia, animals flee their natural habitat looking for safety.

After the fires have finally slowed in Australia, the full damage and destruction left behind can be seen. Around 28 people have died and an estimated around a billion animals have been affected in the flames. This estimate does not even include some smaller animal groups such as insects and frogs, so the number could be even higher. Many homes and towns have also been destroyed. 


There are many areas in Australia affected by these fires, but the area hit the hardest was in and around New South Wales. Some of the smaller fires have been put out, but other larger areas are still burning. The total area of damage estimated to be around 17.9 million acres of land. 17.9 million acres of homes and habitats lost in this disaster. To put that in perspective, this burned area is larger than both Denmark and Belgium combined. A state of emergency was declared in New South Wales, allowing officials to enforce evacuation. Nearly 2,000 houses went up in smoke, representations of the lives and careers and made in the areas. Sam Mitchell, a resident of Kangaroo Island, commented to BBC “The wind is quite fast, the glowing gets brighter – and then you start to see the flames.” Mitchell and his family stayed behind to protect the animals of the Wildlife Park. Without his bravery, the buildings and animals could have all been lost.


A large part of this land made up the habitats that many animals lived in. Though many were lost, the koalas will be okay since they are so spread out across the country, but other animals, such as small groups of frogs and insects, could be extinct now that they have lost their habitats. Whole species that we have not even discovered yet could be lost forever. The animals themselves have been struggling for survival. With the fires on Kangaroo Island, around 25,000 koalas’ lives have been taken. While this number alone is shocking, the fact that this is half the koala population is even more eye-opening. Half the koala population has been wiped out. Koalas are also not the only animals living in this terrain. Many endangered species like the dunnart face extinction. Many young roos who are unable to flee quickly have become victims of the flames and smoke. With all the sad carcasses, volunteers and even the army has been forced to release the bodies into man-made ravines. Many dry bones still lie in the desolate horizons.


 It may just seem like a crazy fluke, or just an accident, but there is a big reason that these fires are happening. Now, yes, Australia has always experienced fires during their summers. As temperatures are rising, these fires are getting worse and are starting earlier in their summer. The main reason for this is climate change. Australia has just had one of their driest springs yet, their worst drought in almost a decade, and to make matters worse, temperatures have been rising. This mix of dry brush and extremely hot conditions is a recipe for disaster. Similar, smaller fires can be seen in our own state of California, also affected by climate change. These fires cannot be completely stopped, but with reduced carbon emissions and other changes to battle climate change, they can be lessened.


Australia is working hard to battle these fires and try to stop any further damage. The Australian government has many firefighters and volunteers working day and night trying to combat the lasting flames. Many people are donating and finding interesting ways to raise money for the country and its people. Federal aid is also being used to help rebuild places such as schools and hospitals that were destroyed. While we all watch in horror, thinking nothing can be done, we sometimes forget that we can help, too.


Though it may not seem like much, even the smallest donations can make a big difference. Places like UNICEF and WWF-Australia are great places to donate and help out. There are also ways you can “adopt” a koala. Now you will not actually get a Koala, but you will get a couple cute souvenirs and you will get to help koalas affected by the bushfires. And finally, one of the best things you can do is to advocate and educate. Climate change is affecting all of us and we can stop it if we work for it. Support policies that advocate for sustainable resources and lowered carbon emissions. Educate yourself and your friends about what they can do to help. 



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