International Update: The Australian Bushfires

The Australian bushfires season started back in August of last year. The fires have not slowed over the last five months and continue to devastate large portions of the country’s bushland and forests. It only seemed right to find some articles that could help give a well-rounded understanding of how the bushfires are truly affecting the state of Australia.

If you want to learn more about what’s going on in the world on a daily basis, check out The Skimm. They know how to write things in an understandable manner and keep it brief so you don’t have to read a ton of articles (like me) to really understand what’s going on.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below.  A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.

British Broadcasting Corporation: An Overview of What’s Going On

Article Title: Australia fires: A visual guide to the bushfire crisis

Here’s the gist: This visual guide to the Australian bush fires was published earlier this week on January 21, 2020.

At the time of publication, 60 fires were still burning in New South Wales and Victoria, two Australian states in the north of the country. The land area throughout all of Australia that has been effected is just smaller than the land area of England.

An estimated 25,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island, a southern state in Australia, died during a devastating fire that took place on January 9th. That’s half of the koala pop. It is unsure if the area’s vast wildlife population will ever recover. Around 30 people have died due to the fires and the air quality in the Australian capital of Canberra has been deemed the the third worst of all major global cities as of January 3rd.

Heavy winds and high temperatures are at the root of the bush fires. The main cause behind the heat has been due to a positive Indian Ocean Dipole–this is an event where the surface temperatures of the sea are warmer in the western half and cooler in the eastern half, which causes heavy rainfall in Africa and and droughts in Southeast Asia and Australia.

Meteorologists start that, for now, the intense weather and elevated heat are here to continue.

For the entire article by the BBC, go here. If you want to read more about recent weather in Australia that has influenced the spread of the fires, check out this article by The Guardian.

The Daily Telegraph: The Impact the Fire Has Had on People

Article Title: Firefighter dies while battling bushfires in Victoria

Here’s the gist: Approximately 27 individuals have died in the bushfires– 20 confirmed in New South Wales, three in South Australia, and four in Victoria.

This brief piece by the Daily Telegraph focuses on the death of a fire fighter from the Forest Fire Management Victoria killed while battling a blaze that struck the Omeo area on Saturday, January 12th.

To read the article in its entirety, go here.

shallow focus photo of kangaroo
Photo by Ethan Brooke on

BuzzFeed News: The Impact the Fire Has Had on Wildlife

Article Title: These Animals Are On the Brink of Extinction Because Of The Australian Wildfires

Here’s the gist: According to this article, published on January 17th, the scientific community is diligently working towards identifying and saving the animals in burnt zones of Australia. They are also working towards identifying threatened plants and ecosystems as well.

The animals experts feel will likely end up on the highly endangered list include the Kangaroo Island dunnart– there were fewer than 500 Kangaroo Island dunnarts before the fires started last fall–, the glossy black cockatoo, the Hastings River mouse, the eastern bristlebird, and the greater glider.

While the search for endangered animals continues, conservationists and other organizations like Humane Society International are working on rescuing other animals including kangaroos and koalas.

To read the entire article by Buzzfeed News and see images of some of the endangered animals, go here.

9News: How the Fires Could Effect Australian Health Down the Line

Article Title: Doctor warns of lung cancer spike due to smoke from deadly Australian bushfires

Here’s the gist: The increase in small particles in the air from the smoke created by the bushfires has been proven to have long-term effects on the health of people living in cities effect by poor air quality. They can be linked to a rise in lung disease, lung cancer, cardiac disease, kidney disease, and even a result in smaller babies that are full-term.

Cities with higher air pollution such as Beijing and Delhi have a prevalently higher presence of lung cancer. Sydney could be in the same boat but we will not know the true impact until about a decade from now.

Professor Alvin Ing, a leading respiratory doctor from Macquarie University’s MQ Health, has opened a clinic to help the rise in patients with respiratory issues. The clinic has also cut the out-of-pocket fees by 70% to make the service more accessible. To read the full 9News article, go here.

sydney opera house australia
Photo by Simon Clayton on

Reuters: How the Fires Have Effected the Australian Economy

Article Title: Australian bushfires hit coal output, harzardous conditions to return

Here’s the gist: BHP Group, a mining giant based in Australia, announced that the poor air quality caused by the fires is hurting the overall coal production which is having a major impact on the world’s number 14 economy.

The smoke and dust is creating reduced visibility which means the machines used in the mining process are operating more slowly. Some staff at BHP have also taken leave to protect their personal property from the fires. The fires effects on air quality could limit the miners further into the second half of the year.

Australian tourism and insurance industries have also believe they could face a hit of approximately $687 million each because of the fires.

To read the entire Reuters article, go here.

Why We Should Care

As a world, we have ignored the negative environmental impacts our lifestyles have had on our planet for too long. This ongoing natural disaster happening in Australia–one of the most breathtaking countries in the world– is showing us the irreparable damage we’ve helped create.

There are ecosystems in Australia that very likely have been devastated by these fires. Ecologists that study the Kangaroo Island dunnart (one of the animals mentioned in the BuzzFeed article linked above) fear that the animal no longer exists. The future health of  Australian people is at risk, homes are gone, and the country’s economy is anything but certain.

Rain has made its way to Australia, slowing the bushfires, but not stopping them. Australia faces a lot of hard work and recovery, but there are ways we can help, even when we live oceans away. Here are ten places taking both monetary and non-monetary donations that caught my eye while researching this article:

AirBNB Open Homes Disaster Relief

Animal Rescue Craft Guild

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital

Australian Red Cross



GoFundMe’s Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities

New South Wales Rural Fire Service

WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund

2020 Victorian Bushfire Relief

Outside of assisting Australia, we should start taking responsibility for our actions and change the way we live our lives. Consider the 10 tips I give about being a more sustainable traveler in one of my previous article and try applying them to your everyday life. The article is linked here.





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