For the past few months, Australia has struggled to keep bush fires under control due to dry spells and increased temperatures. These relentless, unforgiving fires continue to burn urban areas, wildlife, and natural habitats, destroying not only the physical beauty of the country but also the spirits of animals and humans alike. The inferno requires constant attention from firefighters and rescuers, and although mandatory evacuations have been implemented in the country, many citizens desperately try to salvage what they have left and refuse to flee the area because they are afraid that yet another fire will engulf their new place of refuge. The fires also create thick smog that chokes out humans and animals. While some of the fires can be contained, the contaminated air spreads farther and more rapidly than the fires, affecting many more people beyond the burn areas. This air is at the mercy of the wind.
The situation is tragic, but how can GC students help if we are so far away? Start by educating your peers. The more people that are aware of this heat epidemic, the more they can contribute to causes that can prevent it. Many people might think the fires in Australia have nothing to do with Georgians. That might be the case at first glance. Our cities are not burning. Our wildlife is not suffocating, but Georgia is not immune to the effects of increasing global temperatures. According to the States At Risk site, Georgia experiences about “20 dangerous heat days a year.” In about 30 years, the amount of dangerous heat days Georgia experiences is expected to more than triple. For now, Georgia can skate by, but in the future, we could experience similar disastrous effects in our region which means we should act now and support those who are struggling by educating, donating, and actively choosing to engage with green initiatives (recycling, reducing waste, using sustainable products).
The NYT compiled a list of articles perfect for staying educated on the topic, how to donate to those struggling in Australia, and rescue stories (The Australia Fires: Everything You Need to Read). CNBC also created a list of organizations that are willing to help wildlife and rescue organizations. While events like the Australian bush fires are not pleasant, it is important that we address such issues. Ignoring them will only worsen the situation. In honor of the new decade and the new year, make a resolution to go green and reduce your own waste, or donate to a credible organization in Australia dedicated to reducing brush fires.