The bushfires in Australia have been burning since the start of Australia’s fire season in July and haven’t yet been tamed. NBC News stated that the fires have burned through 17.9 million acres, thats bigger than the countries of Denmark and Belgium combined! The smoke has polluted the sky as far as South America and caused severe air and health issues in New Zealand. NASA says the smoke had traveled halfway across the earth by January 8th and is expected to make a full circuit around the Earth at least one time. This travelling orange cloud of smoke will affect the central coast and San Luis Obispo’s air and weather, especially if the fires continue to burn like they are. Warmer temperatures will occur, as well as drier air. Multiple organizations, such as National Geographic, claim that if the fires don’t improve soon, they could leave a permanent effect on the entire world’s air, temperatures, and water quality.
Thousands of firefighters from all around the world are doing their best to combat the harsh flames in Australia. According to the Los Angeles Times Over 170 U.S. firefighters are in Australia right now trying to help tame the fires, and some of them are from San Luis Obispo County. Sadly, three U.S. firefighters died in a plane crash on Jan. 16, making up most of the five lives that the fires have taken.
These fires have also had a massive economic impact on Australia. Consulting firm SGS Economics estimates that Sydney alone has about $1.2 billion worth of economic damage every day, with the haze causing from $12 million to $50 million of disruption every day. Not only do the fires have an economic impact, but they are also impacting wildlife significantly. One of Australia’s most known species, the koala, has been officially named endangered. Koalas and Kangaroos have been more directly affected by the fires such as direct flames or choking on smoke, while Australia’s other species like wombats will be more affected by the devastating aftermath on their habitat. CNN says that the total number of animals that have been affected by the fires could be about one billion. On a better note, Federal Environment Minister Ley said that since December, the government has been working with koala experts and has issued $6 million Australian dollars to establish habitat passages and a plan to release the animals that have been hospitalized, once conditions are safe.
Luckily, much needed thunderstorms, hail, and thousands of millimeters of rain have been pouring down in Australia since the 20th. Even with all of the rain, the fires are still burning all around Australia, however, the ferocity of the flames have improved. The severity of the fires has also improved from firefighters and the help from volunteers and donations from all around the world. If you want to donate or look into volunteering, you can visit this website, How to help victims of Australia’s apocalyptic wildfires, also, How you can volunteer during the Australian bushfire crisis.