Smoke Signals

Recent wildfires in Australia have left the continent devastated and helpless. The image of red, yellow and orange flames will continue to resonate in the minds of Australians who have experienced the sights of their homes and cities burning.


Valerie Rosek

From the effects of wildfires, many national beauties have been destroyed. Climate change is a huge aspect to the extremities of these fires, which has increasingly gotten worse from human contributions. The use of pollutants by humans needs to be reduced, scientists claim, for climate change to decrease in the future.

Over the past few years many natural beauties of the world were destroyed by wildfires. Many people have been affected by these fires across the state of California, the Amazon Rainforest and, most recently, Australia. While wildfires are not rare, climate change and the effect from humans use of pollutants have made them more intense and frequent in dry areas.

According to National Geographic, wildfires occur in hot and dry climates. The fires are then started in areas of vegetation when an offshore wind hits the land. The bushfires that have spread across the continent of Australia were caused by lighting strikes, human actions and arsons. Another cause of these bushfires is from climate change which has had a large impact on the effects of these different actions. 

The wildfires in Australia have been kindaling since September. According to NBC News, the fires in Australia are 80 times larger than the total area of the wildfires seen in California during 2019. Australia is currently in their fire season, meaning the climate is very dry. The continent has been experiencing a period of drought, which has contributed to the spread of the bushfires. The fires in Australia have caused the air to be very poor due to the amount of smoke from the fires.

English teacher Amanda Cardenas’ brother experienced some of the effects of the wildfires in New Zealand during the time of the fires. During his stay, there were a few days where her brother and people in New Zealand were recommended to stay inside due to the poor air quality. From New Zealand her brother could see a thick, hazy, smoke. Due to the rain that did fall; it came from clouds that were full of ash and smoke.

“I have friends in Australia,” Cardenas said. “I have a lot of Instagram connections with teachers who are working in Australia. They said it’s just been awful. It’s been so hard to function just because you don’t know what’s going to happen next and how much the devastation’s going to actually impact them.”

The loss of homes, people and animal habits has left the citizens of Australia devastated and in need of help. Many organizations are currently trying to raise donations for recovery, including the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army Australia, the NSW Rural Fire Service and the St. Vincent de Paul Society Australia. According to CNN, in Australia it is estimated that 17.9 million acres of the continent have been torched. 

From the wildfires, many of Australia’s very unique and rare species of animals were killed. According to the New York Times, researchers have estimated that over one billion animals have died in the fires. These animals have either been killed from direct exposure to the fires or from habit loss. As a result, many organizations are trying to raise money to help the cause of animal losses in Australia.

In Australia at least 28 people have died nationwide, including several volunteer firefighters. Across the continent thousands of homes have been destroyed or completely burned to ashes. The fires in Australia are expected to continue until their summer season is over in February.

According to Los Angeles Times, approximately 2,700 firefighters are on the front line trying to fight the fires that are engulfing Australia. Many firefighters from across the world have gone to the country to help volunteer and fight. According to CNN, since the fires are so large, state and federal authorities are struggling to contain and put out the massive fires, even with the help from other firefighters around the world. The Australian federal government has also sent in military assistance to help firefighters with evacuations, search and rescues and to clean-up efforts.

Climate Change

Climate change can be considered a major cause of the bushfires in Australia. While the opinions of climate change have varied, scientists have proven that it is real. According to NASA, climate change is caused by the “greenhouse effect,” which is caused by human attributions of certain gases and pollutants such as plastic and carbon dioxide. The greenhouse effect is scientifically the warming in climates that then result in the atmosphere trapping the heat that is radiated into the surface, causing a rise in temperatures.

“I definitely see those effects [of climate change], and we saw it in Iceland,” Cardenas said. “When we traveled to Iceland, we saw it there with the glaciers. They’re receding; you can see where the line has changed and where it’s receded from. It’s just scary to think about.”

The effects of climate change have caused a rise in wildfires within the past decade. According to NASA, since 1880, the world has increased in temperature by 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit. Climate change has given the world a greater potential to burn since temperatures are continuing to increase. The wildfires occurring in Australia will most likely continue along with the addition of fires in other places due to temperatures increasing and dry seasons lengthening.

Junior Chloe Krumrai is a part of the environmental club. She feels that the reason the wildfires in the Amazon, California and Australia are happening is an effect from climate change. Krumrai feels that climate change is one of the worst and unbelievable situations that can occur to the world. She believes that in order for climate change to slow down everyone needs to work hard and help because one person alone can’t create a change.

“Climate change in general [is a cause to all these fires,] because there’s just such a mass use of pollution,” Krumrai said. “It’s just increasing the temperature which is causing the fires to start. [To reduce climate change] it can range from simple things, to not using plastic or then it could range to big companies not producing as much waste as they do daily.”

The Media 

Influencers and journalists across all areas of the media have tried to raise awareness and raise donations to Australia. Being aware of the effects from climate change and how it can lead to wildfires is important to take into consideration and to not make the same mistakes. Multiple celebrities have taken matters into their own hands by trying to make a change and use their platforms to spread awareness about Australia and climate change. Keith Urban, his wife Nicole Kidman, Chirs Hemsworth, Pink, Ellen DeGeneres and many others have all donated billions to many different relief funds that are connected to the wildfires in Australia. Not only have they donated money, some have devoted their time by helping the people of Australia directly, while encouraging their followers to do the same.

Sophomore Jacob Moisa has taken small matters into his own hands by watching the amount of plastic he uses. He believes that in order to stop climate change it is important as a society to inform the younger generations about climate change and what is happening so the same mistakes do not happen in the future.

“It makes me feel that our planet is not doing enough to help these other humans with their struggles,” Moisa said. “The increase in fires across the world may be a cause of ignorance of mankind, not knowing what small things can turn out to be. I think that if we don’t stop being ignorant and not caring about what is happening that the whole world might be on fire sooner than we think.”

According to Yale Climate Connections, climate scientists have discovered that the growth of wildfires and their intensities will continue to rise along with temperatures if precaution is not taken. In order for wildfires and other disasters to stop occurring, people need to play a role in limiting their use of pollution and fuels because certain causes to the wildfires occurring in Australia can be from personal contributions.

To eliminate these events from occurring so frequently, global attention and help is needed. Climate change is a current topic and to get it to stop there needs to be a united front of people. Climate change has negatively affected the Earth in many ways, causing temperatures to rise, affecting wildlife and natural landmarks. Time is ticking to make any drastic changes to the climate before it is too late and more wildfires spread around the world.