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The Aftermath and What We Can Learn from the Australian Bushfires

January 24, 2020

The devastating bushfires that have blazed across Australia over the last few months seem to have finally come to an end. This has left the world in a state of severe shock and contemplation over the consequences that we’re now forced to face. With 1 billion animals killed, 1400 homes destroyed, 14.6 million acres burnt down - an area greater than Switzerland - as well as 24 people killed, it’s undoubtedly one of the most disastrous wildfires that mankind has ever faced. 

Whilst Australians and a great number of rescue organizations will be forced to deal with the consequences for years to come, there are a number of fundamental lessons that we can all learn from such devastation.

We’re turning to the experts as well as other experts to help us draw important conclusions about the Australian Bushfires, what we can do and what these fires say about the world’s future. 

A Land Mad for Natural Fires

Like California, Australia is naturally primed for bushfires and Australians have long used fire as a land management tool. Thus, bushfires are an intrinsic part of the Australian environment.

However, as a result of global warming, Australia has been experiencing one of the warmest summers recorded, with Australia hitting a record high of 49.5 degrees Celsius. This followed the driest spring in Australian history. 

As a New York Times article explains, ‘“The question that we need to ask is, ‘How much worse are we willing to let this get?” said an Australian National University climate scientist, Nerilie Abram.” Further, ““If this is what global warming of just over 1 degree Celsius looks like, Ms. Abram says, do we really want to see the impacts of 3 degrees or more? Because that is the trajectory we are on,’” (2020). 

This Is A Global Problem

Australia is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the effects of global warming, with temperatures predicted to rise at least another 0.5 degrees Celsius. However, fires alone pose a problem far greater than solely those of environmental health and emissions in Australia. 

As the Sydney Morning Herald article explains, ‘“Prime Minister Morrison is right about one thing — the only solution is global action,” writes Ross Gittins, the economics editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. “While Mr. Morrison certainly deserves blame, nothing Australia could have done by itself would have prevented the current devastation, since the country accounts for only 1.3 percent of global emissions,”’ (2020). Furthermore, ‘“All the big, rich economies — particularly the Americans, less so the Europeans — must share the blame for the continuing rise in average temperatures,” he writes,’ (2020). 

Finally, the article concludes, ‘“Even the biggest developing economies — China and India, particularly — could have done more to reduce the intensity of their emissions (emissions per dollar of G.D.P.) without abandoning their efforts to raise their living standards,’” (2020).  

The Animal Kingdom Has Suffered

Our actions don’t only affect us. Considering 1 billion animals have been lost as a result of the fires, it’s fundamental to recognize the impact we have on the world at large. From animals to plants and the earth itself, climate change affects living beings who never committed to the problem in the first place. 

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As Vox effectively explains, “Some ecologists, including Beale, say Dickman’s estimates may be inflated. Although it’s plausible many animals have been affected by the fires, the proportion of them that actually died may be smaller. Let’s hope so. The truth is, it’s hard for anyone to know the precise impact of the fires at this stage, not least because many animals that survive the flames will likely die later due to lack of food, water, and shelter. Regardless of the exact numbers, this is a crisis for biodiversity in Australia, which is home to some of Earth’s most distinctive animals, like marsupials. Around 244 species of mammals are found only in Australia” (2020). 

What We Can Do Moving Forward

While global disasters can bring the world together in joint efforts as individuals work to help and restore what has been destroyed, we need to be thinking bigger. We need to act and treat our world with the respect it needs, not only when we encounter natural disasters, but in our every day. 

That’s why it’s important to be aware of what you’re supporting when you choose a certain brand. Have a look at what material that brand is using, what their policies are and if they support any social causes. 

At Slate + Salt, we’re committed to making this world, the fashion industry, and your wardrobe a better and more sustainable place.

It might seem like one purchase, one person or one action won’t make a difference, but that’s exactly the mentality that got us into this mess. Promise yourself, your family, kids or grandkids to honor them by doing one thing every day that makes this world a better place. Because it will be sure to have a positive impact on your own life, others and the planet that we need and rely on so much!

By: Sophia Llwellyn



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