There's no overstating the detrimental effects of the ongoing Australia wildfires, which rightfully became a frequent talking point at this past weekend's Golden Globes ceremony. With climate change betterment initiatives routinely met here in the States with anti-science rhetoric and sheer laziness, however, some may be missing just how heartbreaking and devastating the Australia bushfires truly are.
"Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based," actor Russell Crowe, who is known as a longtime resident of Australia, wrote in a speech read by Jennifer Aniston at Sunday's Globes ceremony. "We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way we all have a future." Others, including Joker star Joaquin Phoenix, also shared messages of support for Australia and called on those in power to do their part.
As developments on the damage from the bushfires continue to roll in, we've put together a guide below that spans the causes of the blazes to how those who want to get involved with relief efforts can pitch in.
What caused the fires?
Australia experiences a fire season annually, though this particular one has been uniquely difficult to control. While the fires are typically the result of dry heat and other natural causes, i.e. lightning, humankind also carries the blame. Back in November, for example, the Guardian reported that a teen volunteer with the Rural Fire Service in New South Wales (the most-impacted area thus far) had been charged in connection with allegedly setting seven fires in the Bega Valley region.
Climate change at large is also a massive factor, as increasing CO2 levels contribute to rising temperatures, thus complicating what is already an annual issue for the area.
What's the impact?
"The estimate is that 500 million animals died. They just can't get away," Dr. Gundi Rhoades, a veterinarian in New South Wales, relayed to NPR in a recent interview. As many as 24 people have also died, per CNN, with more than 2,000 New South Wales homes reported as being damaged or completely destroyed.
Current estimates place the total burned area amount at just under 18 million acres across Australia's six states. Thousands of firefighters, including some sent from New Zealand and the United States, are now working hard to control the fires.
Who's raising awareness?
The Golden Globes offered a stateside stage for those raising awareness for international relief efforts. Those messages have been joined by calls of concern from Australians Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, and Ben Simmons, as well as Kim Kardashian, Bernie Sanders, and many more.
Chris Hemsworth was reported on Tuesday to have pledged $1 million to relief efforts. Lady Gaga, Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are among those who have also announced donations.
How can I help?
A wide variety of relief-providing groups are in need of donations. A GoFundMe set up in support of the First Relief Fund for First Nations Communities is actively accepting donations, having raised more than $578,000 at the time of this writing. A donation to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery, meanwhile, will assist in the development of "recovery programs and emergency assistance" in affected areas.