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OPINION: The Australian wildfires are a tragic warning


Senior Nicole Dunneback poses for a photo in Blue Mountains National Park June 15, which has been affected by the Australian wildfires. 

Twenty-eight lives lost, half of a billion animals affected and 17.9 million acres of land burnt. 

These are the results of Australia's wildfires so far. A beautiful country that I was lucky enough to visit a mere few months ago, before the fires began. 

There is a fire season every year in Australia, but the current season is resulting in enormous amounts of loss and damage. Australian summers are typically hot and dry which is why it becomes naturally easy for fires to start. However, the planet's changing climate has resulted in an excessively hot and dry summer for Australia, leading to hundreds of fires across the country. 

The area that has been hit the hardest though, is New South Wales. That's where I studied abroad this past summer. These fires are truly heartbreaking for me as someone who has seen the land and animals that are now burning. 

I hiked national parks, walked waterfall trails, pet a kangaroo and even held a koala (while visiting Queensland; it's illegal in NSW). At every turn there were beautiful landscapes and wildlife, which are now being ravaged by flames. 

Australia is suffering because our climate is suffering. We must take action to stop climate change. If we continue on this path, there will only be more and more countries suffering from various forms of extreme weather. 

If we don't initiate some real change soon, the world's climate could look very different by as soon as 2030. According to The Ocean Conservancy Inc., humans have caused approximately 1 degree celsius of global warming to date and any more than 1.5°C can have extreme resulting changes. 

Humans have caused this shift in our climate and so we must take action to change our habits and society so we have a safe future. Australia is getting a glimpse at what the whole world could experience in just 10 years time. 

It's not right to simply ignore the problem because it's happening in a different country. Whether you've been there like me, plan to go someday or even never see it in person, this is everyone's responsibility. 

People are losing their homes and watching their country go up in flames. 

With the right efforts we can change the future of our climate. However, if we go on ignoring climate change as if it doesn't exist just because we can't see it in person, pretty soon our homes will also be in danger.

Push for new policies and support governmental climate actions. Otherwise, our future may simply be a burning planet with nowhere to hide and ignore it. 

You can donate to the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army Australia, New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Wires (Australian Wildlife rescue nonprofit) or search for various celebrities and influencers selling products with all profits being donated.