Australia on Fire: Put in Numbers


Koen Ross, Staff writer

By now, most anyone on social media has seen poignant photographs of kangaroos and wallabies without homes. Though the idea of animals without homes is truly heartbreaking, these photos are just a speck of Australia’s tragedy. So you don’t have to imagine so much, here are some comparisons and numbers from the fires “down under.”

Currently, the amount of land burned by Australian bushfires sits around 27.2 million acres. This would be equivalent to 64% of the entire state of Washington losing all of its flora and fauna to fire.

Kangaroo Island, in the state of South Australia, lost 25,000 koalas to fire. The loss of that much life does not require much comparison, but if you’d like some “food” for thought, the U.S. consumes ten times that many chickens in a day. Using pounds as a comparable factor, the weight of killed koalas would be equivalent to that of 5,748 adult humans.

Fires can spread quickly, so individuals are encouraged to evacuate sooner rather than later. Forest fires can travel at a speed of 6.7mph, faster than the average person, who can run at about 6.12mph. Now, David Carrión and Koen Ross might be able to edge out a forest fire with their average run pace of 8.8mph, but a grass fire, which travels at about 14mph, would catch them quickly. Mr. Pyatt on a bike might be Seton’s best bet on escaping a grass fire.

The smoke released from the Australia fires has formed an enormous plume of carbon and particulates. This plume is approximately the size of the continental United States. Dr. Pep Canadell, a head Australian scientist and executive director of the Global Carbon Project estimates these fires have released around 400 million tons of carbon. We all know that’s a lot of weight, but how can we possibly picture it? Mr. Chase happens to drive a pretty spiffy 2012 Toyota Tacoma, which weighs around 3,820 pounds. Were 209 million models of Mr. Chase’s truck stacked up, the pile would still be near a half-million trucks short in equaling the weight of the carbon released.

The numbers for these misfortunes could continue, but that would be unnecessary. Whether climate change, poor human management, or coincidence is to blame, the tragedy of Australia’s wildfires can be ameliorated by our help. For anyone who might wish to donate, here are some links:

Australian Red Cross:

World Wildlife Fund Australia:

Fire Departments in Victoria:

Koala Hospital Port Macquarie:

Hopefully you may now find yourself better informed and enabled to help our world.