Features Volume 69, Issue 4

Australia Fires

Koalas, packed in the back of people’s cars, are desperately trying to escape the flames that are actively destroying their habitats. Almost half a billion animals have been killed by the Australian bushfires, including 30% of New South Wales’ koala population, and scientists estimate that around a billion animals will die altogether from the effects of the flames. Dale Adams, a lieutenant at the Eden Hills Country Fire Service, said that the koalas “stepped out of the bush seeking help.” Spanning the size of West Virginia, the Australian bushfires have forced 2,000 people from their homes and at least 27 people have died since they started in September. 

     With little help from the Australian government itself, several online organizations have come forward, sending donations towards relief. Donations can be given online to the Australian Red Cross’ Disaster Relief and Recovery fund, which sent over 1,285 staff members and volunteers to communities affected by the fires. Besides taking cash donations, the Red Cross says they also accept new volunteers every chance they can get. Another organization, the GIVIT works with victims to find what items they need specifically, and while they are an Australian-based organization, they also use 100% of their online donations to purchase essential items. 

     “I’m sending nudes to every person who donates at least $10 to any one of these fundraisers for the wildfires in Australia,” Kaylen Ward, a 20-year-old model from Los Angeles, said in a tweet from early January. Through her tweet alone, Ward claims to have raised 700k, according to the receipts she sees in her DMs. The donors must send her a verified confirmation of their donation in order to receive the NSFW images. For every ten dollars donated, Ward sends a nude photo. In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Ward says, “I was expecting to raise maybe $1,000, but the tweet blew up.” The internet praises Ward’s bravery. One twitter user wrote, “She’s really out here harvesting raw horny energy for a good cause. Mad respect.” 

     “Someone could see a post and decide to donate…EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS!” said Senior Alan Zelin. Most Las Lomas students found out about the fires through the internet, while scrolling through their socials. Zelin continued, “A lot of my friends…were posting about it on their Instagram stories in order to spread awareness.” Although Alan was unable to donate, he did everything he could, in hopes that other people would see the news and share.  He emphasizes the fact that with even one dollar from every student at Las Lomas, that would equal to $1500 dollars going to help Australia. He continued, “If everyone in Walnut Creek donated a dollar, that’s almost 70 thousand dollars going to Australia!” Senior Graham Rossi also donated, by purchasing a shirt from Suspicious Antwerp on Instagram.“100% of the profits go to… Australia… which is awesome,” said Rossi. Simply from selling t-shirts, Suspicious Antwerp was able to donate approximately $179,000 to help battle the flames. 

     “I worry about my grandchildren, their grandchildren, if this is how it is now… imagine what future generations are up against,” said former New South Wales Fire & Rescue Commissioner Greg Mullins in an interview with ABC News Australia. Climate change is threatening the lives of millions of species, including our own. Mullins worries that climate change has doomed the Australian fires to not only continue, but get much more dangerous. He said, “This might just be the beginning.” While scientists stress that climate change is not the cause of the fires, they also stress that a hotter, drier climate contributes to frequent and intense fires, and that the risk of more fires remains a serious threat. Dan Pydynowski, a senior meteorologist at Accuweather, says that Australia needs a significant amount of repeated rainfall over a period of weeks to create an environment with little risk of fires. Even then, the risk of fire isn’t eliminated entirely. 

     Unfortunately, Australia is still in the middle of its summer season, so any chance of rainfall is scarce and almost non-existent. The intensity of their weather conditions are linked to climate change, and droughts in the country have gotten worse in recent years due to long dry terms and last summer was the hottest on record. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of deemphasizing the connection of the fires to climate change, saying in a November interview that there isn’t “credible scientific evidence” that limiting carbon emissions would help diminish the fires. (Time Magazine). 

     “We will never stop fighting for this planet, for our futures, and for the futures of our children and grandchildren.” Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist, has sparked an international campaign to help stop climate change and save the planet. The internet has become a viable asset in the spread of information about everything, and the support to stop climate change is no exception. With images, videos, and constant information about the fires in Australia, people are becoming more aware of the threat of climate change, and making an effort to stop it. Alan Zelin says, “I’m glad that most of the internet responded in a way that was supportive of those trying to help combat the fires.” The spark to fight climate change isn’t the doing of just one person, but the whole world coming together with the internet to connect them. As Thunberg says, “I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”