The damaging human and animal effects of the Australian wildfires


Story by Allison Bertolino and Justine Kantor

While the wildfires in Australia are having extreme effects and impacts on their unique ecosystems, they are also having an extreme impact on humans. The fires in Australia developed during the summer fire season with high temperatures and dry weather which makes it easier for them to spread. They spread across every state in Australia, but New South Wales suffered the most. According to CNN, a total of 28 deaths were recorded and over 2,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. 

Fires across the country have caused some of the nation’s largest cities to be dramatically affected such as Sydney, the home of the famous Sydney Opera House, a very important landmark for Australian culture. While these fires continue to move from city to city and continue to tear down buildings, neighborhoods, and ecosystems that are home to thousands of different animals are being lost.

Although many locals in Australia are worried and suffering from the fires themselves, they also have more health issues to worry about. The smoke levels in the air across the nation have become extremely hazardous for people to breathe, which can result in future health issues. According to NBC News, over 100 fires and their smoke have spread over 7.7 square miles of land, which continues to leave hundreds of thousands of people in a constant state of danger. 

President of Environmental Club, senior Canaan Ferguson, believes that climate change is the sole factor of the fires. 

“I believe that there is a direct correlation between the increase in temperatures across Australia with the increased number of wildfires…similar events are occurring in places like California, which goes to show that this issue is also domestic,” said Ferguson. “If we continue to avoid the issue of global warming, the effects will eventually become irreversible.” 

While many different countries are trying to help Australia with these wildfires, many environmentalists believe that they aren’t doing enough. The U.S. has sent around a hundred firefighters to help Australia, along with 100,000 dollars yet their annual budget is nearly $28 billion, explains Ferguson. 

“When it comes to the US’s aid with the Australian fires, I believe that more could be done in order to show our support…Although we are assisting Australia and our current contributions are appreciated, there is always more that we could do to fight the fires and help expedite recovery,” said Ferguson.

While there has been a lot of fighting and serious damage that these Australian wildfires have done, not all hope is lost. On January 5th, rainstorms spread across southeastern Australia. 

As many have seen, sources throughout various Internet platforms have shown the animals affected by these dangerous wildfires.

 Many mammals, birds, reptiles and other species habitats have been scorched by the fires, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 6 billion animals. 

Heartbreaking photos have circulated the Internet of koalas and kangaroos surrounded by dark smoke next to barren trees scorched by flames, and native Australian birds lying dead on the ground. 

Many locals are putting in a tremendous effort to help rescue animals from the wildfires and treat those who are injured. Koala hospitals, wildlife rescues, and fire rescue teams have all worked to save these animals, as well as local citizens who take in animals. 

Different crews have also been airdropping fruits and vegetables for the animals to eat.

Many experts are concerned about the effect that the vast amounts of injured and dead species will have on the natural order of Australian ecosystems. 

To benefit the ecosystem, the government has given 50 million Australian dollars (about 34 million U.S Dollars) to help rescue and protect wildlife.

 Environmentalists are concerned about the many species that will be devastatingly affected by the fires such as koalas, the brush-tailed rock-wallaby, and quokka.

Wildlife ecologist Euan Ritchie believes that some ecosystems will take a shorter time to recover, while some could decades or centuries. These ecosystems may not recover to “anything like their former condition.” 

It is too soon to tell what the extent of the damage done to these ecosystems and wildlife will be until the fires, which are still blazing, die down or completely stop.

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