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Here’s What You Need to Know About Australia’s Devastating Bushfires

UPDATE: All profits from the TGR Shop is being donated to Australia Fire Relief from today to Thursday at Midnight

Bushfires are nothing new for Australia, but the intensity of this year’s wildfire season—which has only begun—is unprecedented. Parts of Australia have been ablaze since September, and this week the situation took a turn for the worse. There are currently 136 fires spread across the country, and only 69 of them are contained. The situation has become so dire that the government has declared mandatory evacuations and deployed military personnel to aid the firefighting efforts.

RELATED: Why does TGR care about climate change

2019 proved to be the country’s driest and hottest year on record, which has only exacerbated the infernos. According to CNN, at this point, millions of acres have burned, 20 people have died, and half a billion of animals were killed. Australia is in need of a serious hand, and here’s what you need to know and how to help.

SUPPORT Australia’s Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Funds

Fires are currently raging in every Australian state:

The worst blazes are in New South Wales (NSW) and in Victoria, particularly the Gospers Mountains fires, which have burned about 15 million acres of land. To put that in perspective, it’s a fire seven times bigger than what was burned in the Amazon in 2019.

Progression of bush fires near Sudney, Australia, since October 28th from r/dataisbeautiful

The fire is affecting more than Australia:

Dust and ash from the flames are traveling across the ocean and depositing nearly 1200 miles away. Additionally, the fire has released about 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Scientists fear that it will take at least a century to absorb the new surge of greenhouse gas.

It's created a crisis for thousands of Australians:

Communities are being displaced all throughout Australia. In Mallacoota, a popular tourist destination near Victoria, 4,000 people fled to the nearby lake to escape the flames. Meanwhile, just in NSW, more than 1,300 houses have been wiped out. 

Fire is the new normal:

The perception of climate change has been often limited to a polar bear on a dwindling iceberg, but the situation is much more than melting snow and rising oceans. Climate change isn’t what’s causing these fires, but it’s what is allowing to become so catastrophic. Summer has changed and its byproducts—record-breaking heat, drought, drier grasslands, forests, and soils—only spur more intense wildfires.

What is happening in Australia eerily echos other intense bouts of wildfires we've seen in the last decade. In 2018, in the midst of already intense fire season for California, a fast-moving and unexpected inferno swallowed up the town of Paradise, killing 85 people and obliterating homes and businesses. That same year, British Columbia was also ravaged by wildfires that burned 1.3 million hectares of land. Nearby cities in the Northwest—Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland—struggled with dismal air quality from all the smoke. Instead of rain, ash and debris fell from the sky leaving the area in an apocalyptic haze. These scenarios will continue to persist if climate change isn't seriously addressed.

Want to help? Here are a few resources:

Relief: Australia’s Red Cross Disaster and Recovery Funds

Wildlife: The RSPCA bushfire appeal protects animals affected by the fires.

Firefighting Efforts: NSW Rural Fire Service Donation, Victoria’s Rural Firefighting Donation, Queensland Rural Donation

Spread awareness: Reach out to your elected officials to express your concerns about climate change. More info here for US citizens.

Get involved: Protect Our Winters has the resources you need to take action in the fight for a carbon-neutral future. Learn more here

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