Bushfires are ravaging large parts of Australia, killing at least 28 people and half a billion animals. Sirui Ye (20), a Bachelor’s student of Environmental Sciences on exchange in Wageningen, reflects on the current situation.
‘We have bushfires in Australia every year, but not on this scale. This is unprecedented. The spring and summer are extremely dry and in combination with the strong winds, the fires spread rapidly. The vegetation is also very inflammable. There are many eucalyptus trees for example, which contain a lot of oil.
By now, thousands of homes have been destroyed by the flames. Half a billion animals have been killed. The government has started killing thousands of camels because they are damaging buildings while looking for water in residential areas. The air quality in big cities like Melbourne, Sydney and especially Brisbane is terrible. One of my friends in Melbourne told me that if you want to go outside, you have to wear a mask. My home university sent out an emergency email last week, warning their students to be careful. The situation is just crazy.
The firefighters are having a really tough time. Most of them are volunteers. Recently one of the firefighters died trying to extinguish the flames. They gave a medal of honor to his son at his funeral. People wonder why the army is not in the frontline, but for them it is more dangerous, as they are not trained firefighters. But they do help with evacuating people.
There is a lot of criticism on the government. People feel like not enough is being done. My friends and I have been going around collecting donations, because raising money is better than criticizing the government and waiting for them to do something. It is good to see how people all over the world are trying to help out. Many organizations are in need of funds, from Koalas in Care to the Red Cross to the fire departments.
To see how you can help these organizations, go to bit.ly/2R9Pjvm.’