My home country of Australia is facing a mammoth rebuilding task, requiring enormous effort and funds. Here is why Arkose Labs is helping with relief efforts.
Australia is enduring its worst wildfires in several decades. The impact has been horrific with human casualties, great suffering to wildlife, destruction of homes, livestock and livelihood, and smoke pollution reaching hazardous levels in many cities, including Melbourne and Sydney. Arkose Labs is an Australian-born company and we are particularly pained by the damage the wildfires have caused.
As a native Australian, I know first-hand the destruction natural disasters bring, having witnessed the devastation of my grandparents losing their home, property and life’s work as a result of the 1974 Brisbane Flood. In an effort to help the Australia wildfire crisis we are leading a fundraising drive, and Arkose Labs is donating $100,000 towards disaster relief charities working in Australia and matching employee donations 2:1. We are also working closely with business partners and investors to initiate fundraising activity.
The impact of wildfires that began with the onset of the fire season in late July of 2019 has been felt across the country, but predominantly in the south-east, with a total of nearly 18.6 million hectares burned.
The state that was dealt the most severe blow is New South Wales (NSW). Many areas have been severely impacted by the fires, including the North Coast, Mid North Coast, the Hunter Region, the Hawkesbury and Wollondilly in Sydney’s far west, the Blue Mountains, Illawarra and South Coast, Riverina and the Snowy Mountains. Residents had no option but to flee, leaving their homes and livestock behind. It is estimated that in NSW alone more than 1,500 houses were destroyed in the fire and another 650 were damaged.
The burning forests are estimated to have emitted 400 megatons of carbon which will stay put for as long as the forest takes to regrow. When I was in Canberra just last month, an elderly woman collapsed and eventually passed away after stepping off a plane and breathing the toxic air. The pollutants in the air will put the population at risk of ongoing health problems, especially respiratory disorders.
A billion animals dead country-wide
In New South Wales alone, an estimated one million animals have perished, with more than half a billion affected by injury and displacement. Across the nation, about a billion animals are presumed dead, either as a direct consequence to the fires or because of the destruction of their habitat which they depend on for food and shelter. In a country with unique flora and fauna, the long-lasting impact could be severe and it is feared that certain species of frogs and birds may be at risk of extinction.
Drought making matters worse
The severe drought—estimated to be the worst in decades as well—has made firefighting efforts all the more difficult. A heatwave in December 2019 broke the record for the highest average temperature in the country with a few places experiencing temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (about 113-120 degrees Fahrenheit). Experts believe climate change has a role to play as the annual fires now start early and spread with greater intensity.
Relief and rehabilitation efforts
Food, power and fuel supplies have been disrupted and people are isolated due to closed roads, forcing them to wait for rescue teams to evacuate them. The Australian government has pressed the army, navy and the air force into action for fire-fighting, rescue, evacuation and cleanup. The government has also mobilized resources and aid worth over a billion dollars to set up health facilities and other infrastructure for rehabilitation. State governments have declared an emergency.
Long-term consequences to contend with
Even when the fires are doused out, the consequences will persist for many years. As people to come to terms with their losses, there will also be a lack of food and shelter to contend with, as well as an increased burden of medical facilities due to respiratory disorders. It will be a mammoth rebuilding task that will take enormous amounts of time, effort and funds.
Extend a helping hand
We appeal to everyone to help rebuild Australia and contribute to relief efforts in any way you can. Here’s a list of organizations and funds where you can make monetary donations. You can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on how to collaborate with us on fundraising activities.