For months, Australia has been ravaged by the some of the most destructive fires it's seen in decades. As I write around 15 million acres have been burned, 10 million people are being affected by toxic smoke, glaciers over in in New Zealand have turned brown from the ash and dust. I've just had to update this copy again as the latest estimates from ecologists at the University of Sydney, are now that a billion creatures from farm animals to birds have lost their lives.
If you've been feeling sickened and helpless like me at the sheer magnitude of the disaster, and the viral videos of badly burned and dehydrated koalas and the charred remains of birds and animals, as well as people's homes, there are things you can do to help. Whilst the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has been overwhelmed with support, raising nearly $2 million (£1.5m), the University of Sydney is still crowdfunding to create more koala drinking stations to cope with rising temperatures. An Australian News Station - 7 news has also compiled a longer list of organisations to donate to from Wires Wildlife Rescue to the Salvation Army Services who are accepting donations to provide help to evacuees and frontline responders here.
Local churches throughout the fire devastated regions have also been providing practical assistance to those affected, as well as holding special prayer meetings and Sydney's Anglican Aid has raised over AU$300,000 in response to the disaster, some of which will go towards Anglicare's Disaster Recovery Response, which deploys teams of trained volunteers to crisis areas to provide practical assistance.
The Archbishop of Sydney has issued an urgent appeal, asking congregations nationwide to pray for rain and a special prayer service in connection to the fires is to be held at St Andrew's Cathedral on 19 January 2020. Meanwhile a worldwide collective prayer invitation has also been sent out to the world on behalf of Australia and you can join in the #PrayForAustralia conversation which has been trending on Twitter, currently with 1.3 million tweets. (Since then it seems that prayers were answered on 6th January 2020 when rain and temperatures fell down the east coast, from Sydney to Melbourne with torrential rain reported in some parts of New South Wales, but officials have warned that they need more.)
In the UK, from 12 noon on Friday 10th January 2020, you can join in solidarity with all Australians, humans and wildlife affected by the fires and air pollution at a gathering organised by Extinction Rebellion Protest demanding action on the Australian Fires at the Australian Embassy in London.