Why is Australia Burning? Plus, How You Can Help

Since September, bushfires have raged in Australia and experts are blaming global warming for exacerbating the effects of severe drought and heat. The catastrophic fires have claimed over 15.6 million acres, 24 human lives, and nearly 480 million wildlife animals. Despite a quick reprieve of rain reported by NASA satellites, the fires are not expected to weaken anytime soon. 

The devastation has been widespread and horrific. A third of Kangaroo Island, home to many unique and endangered species, has burned, leaving questions about what will be left of the island’s biodiversity. Vacationers in the resort town of Mallacoota had to be rescued by the Australian Navy after being told that if the heat and flames got too close, they’d have to walk into the ocean. New Zealand’s glaciers have been littered with ash and orange skies have been seen in Chile. The list goes on. 


What started the bushfires?

The official cause of the fires are unknown; however, experts are blaming climate change for making matters worse. Australia has been experiencing a long-term drying trend, meaning that less moisture is in the bush, causing a tinderbox-like effect when ignited. The drought, which began in 2017, has coupled with some unusual weather patterns in Antarctica, which are bringing hot, dry winds and lightning to the area. This deadly combination means that there are many lightning strikes on hot, dry land — and there’s little rain to naturally stop them. Eucalyptus trees, common in Australia’s bush, are also naturally quick to burn


Has this happened before?

Although Australia is not immune to bushfires — and in fact are a common occurrence — the ferocity and timing of these bushfires has taken many by surprise. David Karoly, leader of climate change hub at Australia’s National Environmental Science Program, told New Zealand website Stuff that the fires raging since September have been “unprecedented in their timing and severity.” 


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Huge wildfires in Australia are growing steadily bigger, causing tens of thousands of people along the country’s southeastern coast to evacuate. The state of New South Wales declared a state of emergency on Thursday, with the authorities warning that the fires heading their way this weekend might be the worst yet in an already catastrophic season. The devastation is immense. At least 15 people have died, with 8 deaths confirmed in the past week. Fires raged across forest and scrubland along Australia’s Pacific coast, choking cities with thick smoke, charring more than 1,000 houses and killing countless wild animals. Australia is normally hot and dry in summer, but climate change, which brings more frequent and longer periods of extreme heat, worsens these conditions and makes vegetation drier and more likely to burn. Tap the link in our bio to read more about the worst fire season in Australia’s recorded history. @mattabbottphoto took this photo of a kangaroo rushing past a burning house in Lake Conjola, New South Wales.

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Is the government helping?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced deep criticism over his response to the bushfires. He quietly took a vacation to Hawaii during the fires (though he did cut it short when the fires seemed to be out of control), released a political ad outlining the objectives of how to stop the fire (Morrison has denied that the video is an ad), and has shied away from calling the fires an act of climate change. However, Morrison’s government has declared $2 billion to the recovery fund, which is a reassuring step in the right direction for Australians.


What’s happening now?

There is deemed little to no end in sight for the bushfires, with firefighters being deployed from the United States and Canada, amongs other countries, to help. Other countries have donated money to help the efforts and pledged more help if needed. Unpredictable fire paths are causing stress and tension to those who live in Australia and those fighting the fires, as the direction of the fires seem merciless. Visibility and breathability are low in many areas and a state of emergency has been declared for New South Wales. It seems unpredictable as to when the fires will stop, and how. 



What can I do?

If you’d like to donate money to the cause, make sure you do your research as to where the money will go. 


  • Thank you so much for sharing this post, so helpful to know why this is happening and how to help!

    Cathy, your Poor Little It Girl

  • Caitlyn Nikolaeva

    The bushfires were mostly started by arsonists. Please don’t get political TheEverygirl. Most of the political posts you write are half-truths at best.

    • That’s not what Australia is saying. Funny how you have all the answers…

      Also, I didn’t see anything remotely political (aside from a mention about climate change – with references to y’know… actual climate changes)

    • Jo

      I’m curious as to your source – where does it say they were mostly started by arsonists? Genuinely I want to know.
      Some probably were arson but you can’t deny the effect that the drought and poor conditions have had. It’s been ridiculously dry (compare 2019s rainfall to 2009 even, and 2009 was when the Black Saturday fires happened). They KNOW that some were caused by lightning. There was a fire near my brother’s place that was an unprovoked hay burn. It happens.
      Even if 100% of the fires were arson, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a crisis.
      TEG is just raising awareness.

      • gabrielle112

        Respectfully, I think you’re missing the point a bit. In the section of this article on ‘what started the fires’, 3 of the 4 links are to one article. In THAT article’s section about what started the wildfires they say, “people are a big factor in causing fires in Australia” and IT links to the news of arson arrests. There’s no way this author could not know that when her own sources even mention it. Again, you can certainly say climate change is a factor, fine. But not to purposefully omit basic information that doesn’t match their narrative makes this propaganda and this author and theeverygirl should be ashamed. Stick to telling people what to buy at Trader Joes and not trying to sway women who actually bother to be well informed.

        • Amy Drumm

          I came here to say the same. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/bushfires-firebugs-fuelling-crisis-asarson-arresttollhits183/news-story/52536dc9ca9bb87b7c76d36ed1acf53f

  • Jeannette

    They found 24 people who are guilty of starting all those fires. I don’t know if the person who wrote this did any recent research on these fires. But 24 people are now being prosecuted and are facing punishment. Reports on those people came out days ago.

  • Timmi

    The pain, suffering and physical damage and loss in Australia’s wildfires are horrific.
    Major fires like this have occurred before and most likely will occur again.
    Sadly there have been numerous persons arrested for setting fires.
    Australia’s arid areas are so large that it may be unrealistic to try to establish adequate fire-breaks across the regions.
    Unfortunately and sadly there are AGW-Alarmists who are trying to exploit this catastrophic situation by promoting their global warming agenda.
    There is No scientific data that establishes a cause-vs-effect between man-made AGW CO2 and these horrific fires.
    Australia’s climate is governed mostly by its size and by the hot, sinking air of the subtropical high pressure belt. This moves north and south with the seasons. The climate is variable, with frequent droughts lasting several seasons, thought to be caused in part by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Australia has a wide variety of climates due to its large geographical size. The largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid.