Trees ablaze, red skies, and charred animals. Last month’s headlines declaring one billion animals dead and more dying, The tragedy of the Australian bushfires scorched the news, igniting a cry for change from farmers and celebrities alike. Environmental degradation is caused by the wealthy and its effects are felt by the poor and defenceless. Now the question we must ask ourselves: Why should innocent creatures die as a result of our carelessness?
Although the populated cities of Sydney and Melbourne are relatively safe from the burning, residents can see effects of the million-acre destruction, with air quality reaching hazardous levels. Sydney resident Sumar Pai says, “I woke up to hazy skies.”
“I woke up to hazy skies. I was sitting outside in a restaurant in the middle of the CBD, and I saw a layer of grey dust on my clothes. There was ash falling from the sky.”– Sumar Pai
Though wildfires are natural phenomena, human-induced climate change contributes to the severity of the bushfire, as a result of hotter and drier weather. News sources are saying that kolas were made “functionally extinct,” because of the bushfires, but the endangerment of koalas has been an issue for a long time. This is merely a wake-up call. How many more animals will have to die as a result of human inaction? What will Australia’s fate be like under a prime minister who doesn’t believe in climate change? Will the death of the cute and cuddly jolt people into action?
“If white people and animals are dying, people care. Issues in developing countries are given so much focus, and even then, an Instagram post isn’t enough. There are problems that need hands-on attention.”– Mihika Iyer
8,400 koalas have died. The world wildlife fund has declared that 30 million dollars is needed to deliver wildlife response, habitat restoration, and finding solutions to prevent reoccurrence, which includes the control of climate change. After the Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced backlash from poor management of the crisis, the federal government promised two billion dollars towards bushfire recovery. 50 million dollars was pledged towards helping affected wildlife. These are all very high numbers, but the government’s response has been described as being “slow” and “casual,” due to a lack of knowledge about the gravity of environmental issues. Long term damage has already been sustained, and sources like Channel News Asia are saying that wildlife may take up to 40 years to recover.
Although the bushfires are a natural phenomena, they have been exacerbated by human activity. According to the Australia’s National Environmental Science program, In recent decades, human-caused climate change has caused more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires. Trends are showing that dangerous weather conditions are very likely to increase into the future, “with climate models showing more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires throughout Australia due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions.”
How do we ensure that such an event does not happen again? We start by lessening our greenhouse gas emissions. This is especially important for younger generations to advocate for, because we will be living in a world affected heavily by climate change. I talked to a student at Singapore American School about environmentally conscious practices. Senior Sanya Lokur says, “I never take plastic bags when I buy stuff, but during school I get coffee all the time and I forget to recycle the plastic. I think they should take away the regular bins, it would force people to recycle.”
Use your credit card for good. If you can order clothes online, you can just as easily donate to worthy cause. Donate to an organization that aims to improve the quality of your earth. Even if you can’t donate money, you can still help, because the little things matter. Firstly, wash your clothes in cold water; it works just as well. 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions from one load of laundry comes from just warming the water. Secondly, eat less meat. Not only is that cheeseburger unhealthy for you, raising cattle is unhealthy for the environment as well. Methane to the environment is like obesity to humans. Very bad. This is how you reduce your impact. By making small changes, you help clean up the mess that humanity made.