As if on cue, the Australian bushfire crisis is setting the tone for the new decade. Climate change is here, it’s a big deal, and we’re going to have to deal with it. In addition to addressing the root causes, there’s going to be plenty of chasing symptoms and literally putting out fires.
I’m not going to shock you with statistics about bushfire destruction – those can be found everywhere else. Here’s the bottom line: Climate change is a global problem and it’s going to take a global effort to address it. It shouldn’t matter how many koalas have died, how many acres have burned, or how big the price tag is. When human-inflated climate change events happen we need to support each other. Period.
In addition to lowering your own carbon footprint, here’s how to contribute to Australia bushfire relief:
Donate bushfire relief money to a trusted organization
Sending money is easy and effective, and leaves the decision making to the experts in emergency relief organizations. However, that money won’t do any good if it doesn’t reach the right hands. Unfortunately, scammers will use this disaster to set up fake crowdfunding campaigns and lord knows what else. With that said, use these methods to research a questionable campaign.
- Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief – the Red Cross covers everything human – evacuation centers, cash grants for those that lost homes, long-term recovery programs, psychological first aid, supporting volunteers, and helping communities prepare for the next disaster. There’s a reason this is listed first.
- Salvation Army Disaster Appeal – the Salvation Army deploys emergency catering units to feed evacuees and frontline responders. Donations are crucial in making it happen.
- World Wildlife Fund – WWF is collecting emergency funds to put toward animal and habitat recovery efforts, including the “Towards Two Billion Tree’s” recovery plan.
- NSW Rural Fire Service – These people are superheroes, donate to them directly here.
- Celeste Barber Facebook fundraiser – The Australian comedian/actor’s Facebook fundraising campaign is the largest ever, raising over US$28.5 million as of January 7. The money is going to The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund (remember the superheroes thing?). After you donate, invited others to do the same!
- WIRES – NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) is raising emergency funds for animal rescue efforts. Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is using donations to purchase and distribute wildlife drinking stations in bushfire areas. With donations exceeding expectations, they’re also establishing the world’s first Wild Koala Breeding Program,
- St. Vincent de Paul Society is providing essentials like food, clothing and support through monetary donations. Similarly, FoodBank provides $6 of supplies for each dollar donated.
Donate time and goods
In almost every case, relief organizations are discouraging tangible food and supplies donations from overseas because they are able to process and use money much more efficiently. If you have excess canned food, clothes, and supplies, save them for a disaster closer to home or donate them to the less fortunate.
If sending money just isn’t in the cards, check Rescue Craft Co to see how you can help. Rescue Craft Co is a Community Action Group that makes items to care for injured animals like bat wraps, Joey pouches, crochet birds nests and hanging bags – it’s basically the world’s biggest sewing circle. The group has expanded from 0 to 32,000 members within months and has hubs across the world (including several in Washington state). Click here to see a list of US hubs and contact local organizers.
The Rescue Craft Co Facebook page has printable sewing patterns, video tutorials and a list of requested items. Take this chance to learn to sew or crochet. This is also an opportunity to upcycle old blankets and textiles, thereby reducing your carbon footprint while addressing a disaster it contributed to!
What else can we do?
Short of flying to Australia to offer hands-on support, here’s what you can do. Get angry. Get very angry. As Emily Atkin pointed out in HEATED this morning, the fossil fuel companies largely responsible for exacerbating climate events aren’t paying even close to their fair share in disaster relief. Only Chevron (the second largest greenhouse gas emitter) has stepped up so far with a $1 million donation to bushfire relief.
Seems generous, right? Well, as Atkin pointed out, given that Chevron earned $15 billion in 2018 alone, a $1 million donation is only .00667 percent of its annual earnings. Actor Chris Hemsworth also pledged to donate $1 million, or 1.3 percent of the $76.4 million he made in 2019.
For an American making $59,000 per year (the nation’s average salary), a Chevron-sized donation would be $3.96 while Hemsworth’s Thor-sized donation is equivalent to $767. I’m not saying every dollar doesn’t count, but Chevron’s donation is nowhere near proportional to its carbon footprint. Even a $5 donation to any of the organizations above is proportionally greater than Chevron’s, and infinite times more than all the other oil companies.
And then there’s this from ExxonMobil:
Stay safe and have fun this new year, from all of us at ExxonMobil Australia.— ExxonMobil Australia (@exxonmobil_aus) December 31, 2019
No money, no “thoughts and prayers” (maybe that’s just an American thing), just “have fun.” HOW ARE THEY GETTING AWAY WITH THIS!? Why are celebrities and Good Samaritans cleaning up AND paying for messes Big Oil is largely responsible for? We are one week into this decade and we need to set the tone.
If bushfire has your blood is boiling here’s what you can do:
- Tweet your disgust to @Chevron, @exxonmobil and @exxonmobil_aus. Let them know their free ride is over and we demand they pay a proportional share. Come up with a clever hashtag like #ProportionOilDisasterRelief or use one that’s trending.
- Share articles that expose this issue on all social media. Spread the word.
- Join a protest against fossil fuel companies, the banks that finance them, or governments that appease them,
- Write a letter or email to Big Oil CEOs. (I’ve asked Greenpeace if they will organize an email campaign – stay tuned.)
- Write to a political figure to express your disgust.
- Personally divest from fossil fuels and the banks that back them. Ditch plastic, gasoline and other fossil fuel products. Invest in solar panels or an electric vehicle.
- Jump, shout, stomp, clap – do anything to make noise about this issue!
- Share more ideas with me and the community!