We know we are not alone in our horror at the terrible situation in Australia, with the catastrophic bushfires raging through that beautiful country. Every day our hearts break as we hear more news of lives lost, of whole communities destroyed and of precious habitat reduced to a barren, blackened landscape. Australia is a stoic nation that expects and plans for bushfires as a part of the annual pattern of events but the ferocity and magnitude of this season’s inferno is truly shocking and is far from normal.

Australia has, like many other areas of the world, been experiencing increasingly prolonged periods of drought and extremely high temperatures. These and other extreme weather events across the globe are happening more frequently, as predicted by scientific models of climate change. Climate change has not caused the bushfires, but it has contributed to the conditions that are making this year’s fires worse.

Watching the unfolding catastrophe in Australia, where more than half a billion wild animals are thought to have perished to date, makes us feel helpless. What can we, on the other side of the world, do to help? Clearly we can’t physically go and extinguish the fires ourselves. But there are positive actions we can take:

MOST IMPORTANTLY – we can make positive changes to our own lifestyles to reduce our own contribution to climate change. For example: leave the car at home and walk or take the bus; avoid unnecessary air travel; choose renewable energy sources over fossil fuels; put a jumper on and turn down the thermostat; turn off electrical devices when not in use, instead of leaving them on standby. YOU MAY THINK that it will make not a jot of difference to Australia’s fire emergency by doing these things. And you’re right in a way – it will not help to extinguish the fires this time. But there are nearly 8 BILLION PEOPLE on this planet. If we ALL take positive action, and put pressure on our politicians to put the environment at the heart of governmental policy, we may just reduce the chance that the people and wildlife of Australia will have to suffer in this way in future years.

Tracy Dove – Education and Conservation Manager