Global Health in the News: A Series (III)- How the Climate Crisis in Australia affects Global Health
Updated: Sep 2, 2020
How the Climate Crisis in Australia affects Global Health
The year 2020 has begun with one of the most pressing ecological crises on record – the devastating Australian bush fires. The widespread fires have already devastated an area the size of Belgium and claimed the lives of more than half a billion animals and 24 people. The current bush fires are much worse than previous years due to a culmination of contributing factors including record breaking temperatures, strong winds, ocean dipoles and months of severe drought. New South Wales is the worst affected state, with more than 1300 houses destroyed.
The fires are devastating at a national and international level. Plumes of ‘black carbon’ have travelled more than 7,000 miles from the fires; smoke from the fires has been detected in South America this week. This smoke has caused dangerously poor air quality across Australia with Canberra’s air quality being rated the third worst of all major cities on Friday. Poor air quality is especially dangerous for a huge portion of the population with asthma and various lung difficulties, as well as for babies and the elderly. In this way, the bush fires are having an unprecedented national and potentially global direct impact on human health due to the spread of this deadly smoke.
Even though Australia is a massive 15,160km away from London, the widespread reposting of news articles and apocalyptic images of red skies and burning koalas across social media has made the ecological situation feel very close to home. Such images can spur on a feeling of dread, which has been termed ‘ecoanxiety’. It can be easy to feel helpless in the wake of such a climate emergency, when research that predicted an escalating trend in Australia’s wildfires was published in 1988 (click here). In this way, climate emergencies impact global mental health of individuals across the globe, as we all have access to news outlets and vast quantities of information of the exact devastation of such disasters along with thousands of photos and videos to accompany it.
Such worrying disasters in today’s climate are a signal of what is to come if national and supranational governmental organisations do not act on climate change. As an individual, small changes in consumer habits will make a difference, but it is easy to feel all too overwhelmed by the current climate crisis. In the light of the Australian bush fires, the most impact you can have as an individual is by donating to any one of the following charities included on this web page (click here) and pushing for government action through climate strikes. The Australian bush fires are a sign of the climate emergencies which are to come if no action is taken to fully commit to a ‘Green revolution’. It is therefore now so important to make an impact, in any way you can.