What Can I Do ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN BUSHFIRES?
Our new decade has started with an almighty rush of fire and brimstone. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been feeling all the feels that accompany catastrophic events – sadness and fear and despair and hope and helplessness and anger as you watch the news.
I’m referring, of course, to the bushfires that have been wreaking such utter devastation across Australia that they have been making headlines around the globe.
And they should make headlines. Because this affects our entire world.
The thing is, while most of the world has only just started to hear about our current bushfire emergency, the fire season started back in August of last year.
Since that time:
- an estimated 8.4million hectares (or 20,756,852 million acres; 84,000 square kilometres) have burned. That’s an area bigger than the whole of Austria.
- In NSW alone, almost five million hectares has been hit, destroying almost 1.300 homes and forcing thousands to seek shelter elsewhere.
- To put the fire damage in New South Wales in perspective, some 900,000 hectares were lost in the 2019 Amazon fires and around 800,000 hectares burned in the 2018 California wildfires.
- Since September fires have killed at least 24 people. Some remain missing.
- Almost 2,000 homes in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have been destroyed.
- Experts suggest an estimated 480 million animals are being directly affected by Australia’s bushfire crisis.
- As a result of extreme bushfires on Kangaroo Island, a wildlife heritage park, there are concerns for the future of endangered wildlife such as koalas (yes, koalas!) and glossy black cockatoos.
- There is no precedent for the level of smoke experienced in major cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Medical practitioners say it will be years before the health implications are understood.
- We all know that the world is getting hotter. Australia is feeling this. We broke our all-time temperature record twice in December. An average maximum of 40.9C (105.6F) was recorded on 17 December, broken a day later by 41.9C (105.4F), both beating 2013’s record of 40.3C (104.3F).
The bushfire season usually lasts until at least March. Sadly, we can expect things to get worse before they get better. And we are being told this is our new normal.
According to a resounding chorus of experts, at the heart of Australia’s bushfire crisis is climate change.
“Just a one degree temperature rise has meant the extremes are far more extreme, and it is placing lives at risk, including firefighters. Climate change has supercharged the bushfire problem,” Greg Mullins, former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner
Because our global AIP community is so #bloodyfabulous, I’ve had a number of people reach out ask what they can do about the bushfires.
Over my years of following an AIP way of life, I’ve come to realise just how special our community is. It is no surprise to me that AIPers want to do their bit. And, I also believe that following the tenets of AIP leads you to tread more lightly on the planet. Because of the way you eat and engage and live and connect. That has certainly been the case for me.
It is my sincere hope that this terrible event will be the impetus the world needs to effect change the way we look after our planet.
But, What can I Do about the bushfires?
When we see the suffering that is going on in the fire affected areas of Australia, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. This is especially true when you are half a world away. It is also human nature to want to do your bit for the victims.
Here are some suggestions for you.
In the short term
You can donate:
- The Australian Red Cross Disaster relief and recovery fund helps support evacuation centers and recovery programs for the affected communities
- Comedian Celeste Barber has a fundraiser for the NSW Rural Fire Service fund (which has now been extended to other state fire services due to the generosity of supporters). You can donate on the fundraiser’s Facebook page
- The wildlife destruction has been absolutely heartbreaking.
- WIRES is a wonderful Australia wildlife rescue organisation. Donations can be made through its website
- If you specifically want to help support koalas, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has already raised in excess of $4.5 million to help search for and protect the koalas in the region. You can donate at its GoFundMe page
- I mentioned Kangaroo Island, the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park was hit hard by the fires in South Australia. Donations are sought to help with vet costs, koala milk and extra enclosures on its GoFundMe page –
- There are families who have lost everything but the shirts on their back. The St Vincent de Paul Society is helping people on the ground in rebuilding, providing food and clothing and emotional support. It has a donation page here
You can sew or knit pouches for injured wildlife:
- When young wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, bandicoots, gliders or possums come into care they need to be kept warm and quiet. Giving them a safe pouch can make a big difference to their healing. For patterns and details, head here.
You can support local businesses directly affected by bushfires:
- Turia Pitt is a woman who knows first hand about the damage bushfires can cause. She and her friend Grace McBride are helping to put money directly in the pockets of the people and communities who need it the most by encouraging you to buy from those affected. Follow this Instagram feed for more: spenditwiththem
In the longer term
I bang on a lot about how the Autoimmune Protocol has taught me so much about the importance of connection and community when it comes to my health (and yours, too). This is not limited to AIP. It matters for us all. Human beings are programmed for connection.
But as I continue to chip away at my AIP way of life, another BIG side benefit for me is that I am so much more aware of the footprint I make on the planet. I am both more aware and more engaged in the choices I make. And this is a big part of taking a longer term view.
The current bushfire situation has brought this home in a big way. As a result, I’m taking a good hard look at some of my lifestyle choices. Here are some of the things that are top of mind for me:
- Connect with your local community – the AIP community is disproportionately high in introverts (anecdotally, anyway!). It’s all too easy to hide away in your corner. The reality is that when you are part of something bigger than yourself and your immediate family it affects how you navigate your way through the world. Connection breeds caring and kindness.
- Get to know your neighbours – You can be the one person to make a difference (and you never know when you may need them!)
- Volunteer – Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and your community, but did you know that the benefits can be even greater for you? Giving to others can help protect your mental and physical health, reduce stress, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.
- Work on reducing your personal greenhouse gas emissions – there are choices you can make to reduce your footprint on the planet. Imagine if everyone took steps to do this?
- Buy less – Do you need that sparkly new thing? Can you make do?
- Recycle and Re-use – wherever possible
- Set yourself a challenge to use as little plastic as possible
- I shop at my local farmers market each week. It significantly reduces the amount of plastic I use as well as giving me an opportunity to connect with the people who produce my food
- I bought this market trolley ten years ago and it’s still going strong. Everything goes straight from the market and into my fridge and pantry
- I use these produce bags. No plastic required (and they go in the washing machine)
- Turn off the air-conditioning and heating – or at the very least don’t have it down so low or up so high
- Catch a bus, a train or a ferry instead of your car – better yet, walk or ride your bike instead of driving
- Be aware of electricity usage – turn off switches and lights and appliances when not in use
- Look at your meat consumption – Make a real commitment to buying local, sustainably-raised meat. Eat snout to tail. Get the family involved in a ‘less is more’ philosophy
- Create a garden – Even if you live in an apartment (like me). Start with a small herb garden. I’m currently planning my balcony garden and considering investing in a Composta
- Spread the word – Educate your friends and family. Together we can make a difference.
- Conserve water – take shorter showers, use the washing machine less frequently, only run the dishwasher when it is full
- Educate yourself – make it a priority to take personal responsibility for building your awareness
- Find out where your bank and superannuation/retirement funds invest – ensure your money isn’t funding industries contributing to climate change like investing in fossil fuels and if so, take your money elsewhere.
- Here in Australia, you can use the Market Forces website to check this
- Write to your prime minister or president and your local government representative – express your concerns about the bushfires and the connection to climate change.
Even if you live a million miles away from the Australian bushfires, there are things you can do. Me, I’m going to dust off my sewing machine for some joey pouches. What about you?
Eat Local. Less Waste. Easy on the Wallet.
Want a small yet effective way to do some good while adding more nutrient density to your diet? Make a Soup Equation soup. Better yet – Make a Soup Equation soup and share it with your neighbour!
This is my #1 way to eat more seasonal vegetables (bought from your local farmer, of course!). No recipe required. And, it tastes great!