As we’re all aware, Australia has been engulfed in flames from catastrophic bushfires that are particularly horrific in Queensland and New South Wales. A video went viral a week ago of a woman running straight into a bushfire to save a badly burned koala by wrapping him in her shirt and rushing him out of the flames. She gives him water and tries to cool his burns, then wraps him in a soft blanket to take to trained professionals who assist injured Australian wildlife. The video was devastating to watch and touched the hearts of not just Australia, but the entire world.
This koala was affectionately dubbed ‘Ellenborough Lewis’ after the grandchild of the woman who saved him. He was taken from the fires to receive medical treatment at a Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie but had to be put down on Tuesday due to the severe nature of his burns.
The death of Lewis has drawn a lot of attention to plight of Australia’s koalas. Over 350 koalas are thought to have been lost in the blazes and millions of hectares of their natural habitat have been wiped out. The WWF says that koalas are not ‘functionally extinct’ like the media has been reporting, but if their habitat is continually destroyed by the effects of climate change such as fires and deforestation, (and the Australian government do nothing about this) koalas will face extinction by 2050.
The current Australian Liberal Government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are to blame for this atrocity due to their inaction on the climate crisis, which is contributing to the fires and massive biodiversity loss in Australia. The Australian Government refuses to mitigate damages of climate change by declaring a climate emergency or using renewable energy, opting instead to continue opening up more coal mines (and illegally on Indigenous land – but that’s a whole other issue).
Australia is frankly fed up with the buffoonery that is our government, which can be seen particularly on Twitter. This rage is undoubtedly fuelled by the news that the fires are threatening the survival of our koalas. In response to the fires, ScoMo has made some questionable choices. For instance, the Prime Minister tweeted that he was sending his thoughts and prayers to those affected and the Australian Twitter users replied with a vengeance.
‘I doubt impacted community members are impressed with your folksy platitudes. History will record that you waved a lump of coal around in Parliament, undermined our hard-won freedoms and propped up ‘political donors’ in the fossil fuel industry during a climate crisis’.
Victims of the fires have also directly spoken out with one man spray painting what was left of his burned home with the message ‘No climate catastrophe? F.U. ScoMo’ and other pointed critiques of the government’s response to the fires. Firefighters all around the country have said that the fire seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer, and they acknowledge the link between worsening fires and climate change.
Many Australian mayors have also added their voices to the mix, pleading with the Federal Government to address these issues before more lives of people and wildlife are lost. Greg Mullins, a former state Fire and Rescue Commissioner reported the following startling observation: “We’ve burnt more land in New South Wales in the first month of the fire season than the last three fire seasons put together”.
Despite scientists, the public, media, climate change experts, firefighters, mayors and all the combined voices of a burning country pleading for their leader to do his one damn job: to put the welfare of the people and the country over profit in his own damn pocket, ScoMo is standing firm with his opinion that these fires would happen without climate change playing a factor. He claims: “I think to suggest that at just 1.3% of emissions, that Australia doing something more or less would change the fire outcome this season – I don’t think that stands up to any credible scientific evidence at all.”
I guess Australia will just have to hope ScoMo’s thoughts and prayers put the fires out and save our country and our koalas because that’s all our government is willing to do.