In this post, we read, listen, act, and reflect on January's topic: disasters and the Australia fires. This article has been adapted from our sustainability newsletter, so please sign up for it to stay in the loop.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Australia is burning.
Most of us don't live remotely close though. If you're reading this, you're most likely in the Bay Area. But hey, we know what fires are like. #TooSoon
For the next three weeks, we're going to talk about disasters and climate change. It's easy to ignore the problem because it's just so huge, but as we know, it's closer to home than we think.
Here's the TL;DR on the Australia fires. You can read the full article here - it answers 5 questions about the Australia fires.
It's not just Australia (and you know this) - fire season everywhere is getting worse and worse and worse. And worse.
As fires in the Bay Area have gotten worse, we've gotten better at collecting data and understanding the tie between climate change and natural disasters. Here are some quick facts:
Last week, we talked about the Australia fires, why it matters to all of us non-Australia dwellers, and how we can do our part.
Here's a graphic to recap.
RECAP: About 18 million acres have burned, more than the Amazon rainforest and the California wildfires combined, caused by and subsequently causing a vicious climate change cycle.
Listen to Monday's New York Times podcast episode, "Why Australia is Burning". It's about a woman who fled with koalas and kangaroos in her car!
This episode important because it goes over stuff we haven't touched on yet, like the impact on biodiversity and what happens when you country is managed by someone who doesn't care about fighting climate change. (Sound familiar?)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to curb Australia's carbon emissions and was apparently on vacation in Hawaii despite the bushfires being in full swing. Also, there's a ton of misinformation in the Rupert Murdoch-controlled news... the connection is too strong to ignore. Click below for show notes and full episode.
There's a lot we can do in our communities to proactively offset and mitigate climate damage. That's all what we'll cover today - just these 3 things below. One of them takes as little as 5 seconds. It's between that and a guilt trip.
Here they are, in order of effort. The first one takes 5 seconds!
#1. Bushfires - What's up down under?
It rained in Australia a little over a week ago (yay!) but the bushfires are not completely contained. Hotter temperatures are predicted for the end of this week, but for now, the worst seems to have passed.
Now that the fires have largely passed, Australians and international reporters are reflecting on centuries-old indigenous cultural burning practices that were used to manage the landscape before natives were colonised. These techniques were highly effective, but generally disregarded and invalidated by the post-colonialism Australian government.
My takeway: it's important to understand the history and cultural context of where you live. Looking at the environment through an intersectional lens not only allows us to be mindful of social challenges; it can potentially save lives.
#2. Davos - Is Switzerland still neutral in 2020?
The World Economic Forum's annual summit, AKA Davos, took place earlier this month. A bunch of powerful people get in a room (well, many rooms) to discuss economics and geopolitics, but in 2020, that's synonymous with talking about climate change.
As you can imagine, tensions flared. It was basically Trump vs. Greta, adult vs. child (although I won't say who is who). The United States leader didn't acknowledge climate change, and Greta continued to convince business and government to take action.
However, one rare climate point of agreement was the 1t.org project, which "aims to grow, restore and conserve 1 trillion trees around the world to sequester carbon from the air and to protect biodiversity". Even Trump was on board - yay trees!
Two more #Davos2020 wins:
#3. How much hotter is your hometown than when you were born?
I'll leave that for you to answer. This is one of the coolest pieces of interactive journalism by the New York Times - check it out and reply to this email with what you find!