The Raging Wildfires in Australia: Here’s How You Can Help


Unknown via Wikimedia Commons

Bush fires rage on across Australia.

Since late July, Australia has experienced the worst wildfires seen in decades. The fires have killed 28 people and destroyed thousands of homes. Ecologists from the University of Sydney estimate that, as of now, up to 1 billion animals have died from the fires and over 17.9 million acres of land—more than the land areas of West Virginia, Delaware, and Rhode Island, combined—have been burned.

A number of factors have contributed to the increased severity of this year’s fires. First, Australia is suffering its worst-ever drought, and national temperatures are rising. The continent recently experienced its hottest day ever recorded at 107.4 degrees. Second, the smoke from the wildfires is spreading more quickly due to severe wind. Some argue that the intensity of the fires is in part a result of climate change.

The Australian government has taken several measures to combat the fires and their effects, through paying firefighters to quell the flames and recruiting military soldiers to evacuate citizens, rescue survivors, and clear debris. The United States, Canada, and New Zealand are providing aid to Australia as well by transporting additional firefighters, food, and medicine overseas.

However, the fires continue to worsen. Temperatures in Australia usually peak in January or February, so it could be months before the fires end.  If you want to help provide relief to victims, donate to nonprofits such as the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and the Australian Red Cross. If you are interested in supporting the recovery of animals who suffered injuries from the fires, WIRES Wildlife Rescue and the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital are great options. More organizations in need of donations can be found here.

Sources: CNN, StateMaster, Washington Post, NY Times, the Guardian