Australian Bushfires still burn throughout the country

Adrianna Gebhart, Website Development Manager

Australia is no stranger to dangerous situations, given that it seems like every other animal wants to kill you. However, the environment is screaming for help, and the current bush fires is the final straw.

Every year, there’s a fire season in Australia. So much so that the indigenous people believe that it’s necessary for population control of the animals. Nonetheless, this year the season started very early and won’t stop.

This fire has been lit since late July, and as of mid January, has spread to 15.6 million acres of land spanning across the coast of Australia. This rapid spread of fire has also affected the animals.

When fires burn, so do animals homes. The biggest example of this is the koala. The koala lives in the Eucalyptus trees, but since the start of the fires, they have now unfortunately become a part of the endangered species list, showing how much these fires have affected Australia.

Many people have resorted to donating money directly to wildlife centers like Steve Irwin’s foundation at the Australian Zoo. Others like Senior Bella Brehm have decided to “adopt” or sponsor animals.

“There are so many organizations and other ways to donate,” Brehm said. “I was the one who brought it up [to my parents].”

Adopting the koalas doesn’t actually mean that you’re receiving an actual marsupial in the mail.

“They can not afford to take care of all of these animals, and people are struggling to get money,” Brehmn said. So if you sponsor a koala, it helps with its treatment and care.”

Not only do the koalas get more treatment, but the sponsorship also pays for their needed food.

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Koalas are not the only animals that are being affected. Wombats, which are mostly reclusive and keep to themselves, have been observed to be not only letting other animals in their burrows, but they’ve been forcibly moving others into their homes themselves.

The change in animal behavior is very noticeable. With this change in animal behavior also comes with questions on how these fires will ultimately affect the environment.

“I think we’re having a massive loss of biodiversity,” AP Environmental Science teacher Jeffrey Bakunas said. “As a lot of the trees are burning, it’s like a two-fold approach where we’re losing a lot of the trees that are absorbing the carbon dioxide, and also releasing a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

The world is already seeing some of the effects from the fires. Many people with lung and respiratory conditions such as asthma are having trouble with breathing as the air quality around Australia is dwindling.

Map of Australian bushfires
Courtesy of MyFireWatch
The fires are mostly located on the east coast of Australia, and have decreased in size. However, they are still burning throughout the country.

The world most likely won’t see some effects pass over for a very long time.

“I think it’s going to be decades before the forests are going to be able to regrow back to normal,” Bakunas said.

With the fires still burning, some firefighters from the United States have flown all the way to Australia to help assist their Aussie partners. More than 100 people have traveled to help.

“As a country, we should be setting the tone for taking care of each other internationally,” government teacher Jordan Blackburn said. 

Blackburns brother and sister-in-law live in Sydney, Australia, and tell him that the fires have been the worst they’ve ever seen.

The fires have opened up a discussion about the relations between countries, as many others start to go over to help. Not only are people helping physically, but also spreading awareness about the fires in the process. 

Many american teens have heard about the fires by this point from social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram. And they all have the same thing that sophomore Isabelle Murrell said.

“It’s sad,” Murrell said. “… it’s [hurting] all of Australia and all of the animals, people and their homes.”

The work of others home and away is not going unnoticed, and the repercussions from the fires are very evident.

“I hope this awakens a lot of people to [see] another one of the consequences of climate change,” Bakunas said

If you or a friend would like to donate to help combat the fires, click the links below to donate.