For more than two months, the world has seen Australia burn. It is estimated that to date 10 million hectares have been destroyed, an area larger than Portugal, and 28 people have died, not to mention the great damage to the fauna and flora of this immense island. Nearly 500 million animals—including mammals, birds and reptiles—have died. And, even though rains have begun to fall in some places, it is not enough to put out the multiple fires currently burning. With heart-wrenching pictures of burnt animals and more than 3,000 homes destroyed or damaged, it is hard to not want to help. Here are some ways you can:
How to help the people
There are many organizations in charge of helping the people affected by the bushfires. Organizations like the Australian Red Cross, which has volunteers and recovery centers, Salvation Army Australia, who are providing meals to evacuees and first-line responders, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society Australia, who are helping raise money to help evacuated families cover bills and rebuild. You can also donate directly to the fire departments of Victoria and New South Wales, two of the states hardest hit by the blazes. The Save The Children evacuation centers in those two states are also accepting donations to benefit their child-friendly evacuation centers. The spaces offer support and relaxation for children and families as they concentrate on recuperation and restoration.
How to help the wildlife
Organizations like WIRES, Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization, the Irwin family’s Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, who are raising money for new enclosures to house flying foxes and koalas injured or displaced by fires, and Wildlife Victoria, a nonprofit that provides wildlife emergency response services, are all accepting donations. Other organizations dedicated to helping specific species, like the Koala Hospital Port Macquarie, are also accepting donations.
How to help long term
One of the best and perhaps most lasting ways to help is to take a minute to learn about what caused the Australia fires. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has described the bushfires as unprecedented in size and scale. Typically, Australia has a fire season that runs from December to March, but climate change made this year’s season particularly catastrophic—the heavily dried out soil and vegetation directly intensify wildfires by creating more fuel to burn farther and faster. Furthermore, global warming lengthens the fire season by decreasing precipitation and increasing temperature, fueling the blazes. You can learn more at globalchange.gov.