Is it just the kangaroos’ problem?
By Siera Millard
Photo by The New York Times
What is happening?
Since September of 2019, wildfires and bushfires have swept across the country/continent of Australia. Twenty-four human lives have been lost and millions of plants, animals, and other organisms have also died.
How are people responding?
One of the major concerns of the situation is the implication of climate change. “Few countries see almost every side of the climate crisis as clearly - and have as much to lose - as Australia,” one source says. Since the beginning of the decade this issue has been rising to a critical level, even since the beginning of this century. The only reason that it is more global recently is because we can visually see it. One of the causes of this issue in Australia in particular is because the country exports more coal than any other nation on Earth. This causes heat and drought, bush/wildfires, loss of agriculture and human/animal lives, and warming of the ocean. The first three clearly have an impact on the environment, but the warming of the ocean (particularly around Australia) is incredibly impactful. This is because when the water is warmer (caused by increased carbon pollution) it essentially causes the coral in the Great Barrier Reef to expel the algae that makes it colorful. This process, called coral bleaching, kills the coral and thus destroys a resource that millions of species use or even depend on. Because everything is connected in this world through incredibly complex food webs, this has dire consequences in many ways for other species as well.
There are many people in Australia during this horrible crisis that have made the situation worse. “Twenty-four people have been charged with deliberately lighting fires [in Australia] since November.” However, many people also think that this is the cause of the wildfires. It is important to know that the cause is climate change according to scientists, and the arsonists have solely made it worse.
As per usual, many celebrities and top one percenters are jumping to Australia’s rescue. Elton John donated one million dollars, Chris Hemsworth donated one million dollars, and Kylie Minogue pledge $500,000. However, the question that some are asking is where was this help in other disaster similar to this one? There are also other areas that have suffered climate change induced natural disasters such as the floods in Bangladesh and Indonesia. While the problem is currently extremely severe in Australia, it must be known that occurrences such as this have always been happening.
What does this mean for the United States?
Although the United States does not export nearly as much oil, coal, or other natural resources that other countries do, climate change is still a real concern. The US imports many of these resources and does mine them as well. In order to prevent more of what is happening in Australia, the US must do something to change the way that energy is created in this country. However, it is not just the US. All countries must work to make the future livable.
What can YOU do?