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Understanding the scope of Australia’s wildfires

Australia’s wildfires may not be circulating in mainstream headlines now, but the ramifications of last year’s catastrophe are staggering and will take years to recover from.

The giant, sweeping fires that spread across Australia in 2019 have finally been extinguished, over 240 days after they first began. While we’re no longer seeing them on international news stations, the environmental damage and toll is unprecedented.

Over 26 million acres of Australia have been lost since the wildfires started. They were 50% bigger than last year’s blazes in Brazil and California’s worst summer fires were thirteen times smaller. To put all of that into perspective, the amount of land that has been destroyed covers both South Korea and the state of Virginia.

But what does all of this mean in the long term?

For one, climate change will continue to increase the likelihood of such large, damaging natural catastrophes in the coming years, further damaging delicate ecosystems and endangering wildlife. According to ecologist Chris Dickman, over 800 million mammals, reptiles, and birds and have been killed in New South Wales alone.

Up to 1.25 billion animals have been lost across the continent including 30% of all koalas. The fires have been truly world destroying by anybody’s standards. What’s more, the scope of the devastation has meant that over $100 billion has been lost over the past year and CO2 levels across Australia have now become imbalanced.

Really, the biggest thing to take from this is that climate change is having very immediate, very real effects on our planet right now. The urgency of tackling our changing weather patterns and habitats is not a hypothetical – it’s literally happening around us as we debate on what action to take and when.

The good news is that you can help, even if you live on another continent.

Click here to visit the WWF website and donate the Australia Appeal, which will help provide emergency care for injured wildlife, resources to plant new trees, and ramp up demands for government to create tighter laws around tree clearing.