Community| 4 min read

Global Wildfires in 2021: What’s Happening and How to Help

Across the world wildfires are burning at an alarming rate, destroying communities and ecosystems. Learn what’s happening and what you can do to help.
WRITTEN BY Hannah Prince

We always want to lead with optimism and focus on the positive steps forward when it comes to addressing the challenges facing our planet. But it’s impossible to turn a blind eye to the very present reality of climate change as wildfires burn through our own backyards and across the world. From Brazil to Turkey to Canada and the US, we’re seeing fires consuming our forests, killing wildlife, and devastating communities and our hearts go out to those who these fires have directly impacted. These devastating fires are sadly becoming the new normal.

We’ve pulled together some resources with the aim of helping you understand what’s driving these fires and what you can do to help immediately and in the long term. The time for action is now.

 

How can I help immediately?

Here’s a list of resources you can access today to help those who are currently in need of assistance.

British Columbia

The Red Cross*
*tentree has donated to the Red Cross in both Canada and the US to support relief efforts.

Donations to the Red Cross will be used for immediate and ongoing wildfire relief efforts. Direct financial assistance helps people cover immediate needs related to their evacuation and allows people to make decisions on what is best for themselves and their families. The provincial and federal governments will also be matching all donations made to the Canadian Red Cross for B.C. wildfire relief.

CanadaHelps
CanadaHelps provides you with a list of charities that are currently responding to the wildfires in British Columbia. Through your donation, you can help those affected by providing access to vital services such as food, emergency shelter, and more.

The United States

The Red Cross
As in Canada, donations to the American Red Cross will be used to help those affected and displaced by the wildfires.

Open Homes by Airbnb
Airbnb matches hosts with those who have been displayed for their homes and relief workers in need of a safe place to stay. You can sign up to provide a free space or donate to cover the cost of temporary accommodations.

Turkey

TPF Wildlife Relief Fund
All donations to this fund will support wildfire relief and recovery efforts in Turkey. Your donation will go to TPF vetted nonprofits at Afet Platformu providing food, water, and shelter to people and animals in need.

WWF
Your donation will provide emergency funds to stop fires in Turkey, care for injured wildlife and help build a sustainable rescue and rehabilitation capacity.

Brazil

Rainforest Alliance
Donations to the Rainforest Alliance go towards protecting the tens of thousands of acres of rainforests that are being destroyed every day. Your donation helps save vulnerable ecosystems at risk from wildfires and fight climate change.

Amazon Watch
Your donation to Amazon Watch will directly support Indigenous communities that are in crisis as a result of the catastrophic fires.

 

Why are wildfires getting worse and occurring more often?

While most wildfires are triggered by human activity (humans start over 87% of wildfires in the US, and 40% in Canada), it’s undeniable that climate change is increasing the likelihood, severity, and duration of wildfires at a global level, and it all leads back to the rising temperature on our planet.

Climbing temperatures are creating the ideal weather conditions and fuel needed for these catastrophic fires around the world. Warmer than average temperatures accelerate moisture evaporation from the ground, drying out the soil and making vegetation more flammable. These tinderbox conditions mean that flames can spread quickly and over large areas once a fire is sparked.

Droughts and heatwaves only worsen these conditions, bringing unpredictable rainfall patterns and longer, more intense fire seasons. These elevated temperatures were major drivers of Australia’s unprecedented 2019 bushfires where temperatures were 1°C to 2°C hotter than average, and climate change made the bushfires at least 30% more likely.

We’re living in a time when even if a fire ignites naturally, the chances of it creating an intense blaze are much higher due to climate change. ​​It’s up to us to support those who are directly impacted by the fires that are currently burning and take collective action to prevent them in the future.

 

What long-term action can I take?

We need to hold our friends, families, workplaces, communities, and governments accountable in the wake of these fires. Addressing our warming climate requires many solutions, but nearly all of them hinge on us. Big change truly does start small, so here are some tangible actions that you can start to incorporate into your day-to-day to help drive meaningful change for our planet.

Practice wildfire prevention
Before heading out into nature, always check to see if a fire ban is in effect and respect it. Humans start the majority of fires, and these bans are in place to protect the local environment.

Support reforestation efforts
Extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is key in preventing global temperatures from rising. Trees help stop climate change by removing CO2 from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

Reduce your daily emissions
Small changes add up when we all get on board. Put your day-to-day under a microscope and see where you can work to reduce your environmental impact. Ditching single-use plastic, walking instead of driving, or actively offsetting your carbon footprint all make a difference in the long run.

Vote for the environment
Inform yourself on the issues facing our planet and vote for leadership that follows science, promotes sustainability, and works to prepare communities for future environmental, economic, and health challenges.

Eat less meat
Even if you don’t go full veg, reducing the amount of meat you consume (particularly red meat) is a better choice for the planet. Red meat production uses a lot of feed, water, and land, and cows themselves emit harmful greenhouse gases. Loading your plate with local, sustainably harvested veggies whenever possible is your best bet.

 

The planet’s future is in our hands, and the wildfires we’re seeing today are a reminder that we can’t ignore the very real issue of climate change. While positive change will require action at a global scale, it’s important that we do everything within our power as individuals, no matter how small.

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