• Diana Littlejohns

Australian Bushfires

It’s a new year with new hopes and dreams for the next twelve months and even though I wear glasses, my 2020 vision is to gently help and encourage as many small people to think about our wonderful world with kindness; to want to understand more about mother nature and treat her with respect from as young as three years old.

Starting this January, my workshops teaching children conservation through art at both nursery and primary school level have doubled and I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to work with more young people on such important global conservation issues, such as what’s happening in Australia right now.

The continued devastating effects of the Australian bushfires is just so tragic and considering that 500 million animals species – mammals, birds and reptiles - have died since the bushfires began in September 2019, along with 23 people at last count and 1,500 homes, it’s good for young people to be aware of what’s going on (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/50986293).

Bushfires aren’t caused by climate change, but are exacerbated by the effects of global warming so extreme weather conditions; droughts, drier soils and record breaking heat that Australia had in 2019 means that wildfires are becoming more common (https://www.cnet.com/how-to/australian-fires-everything-we-know-how-you-can-help-where-to-donate-fundraisers/). This gives some explanation as to why last year also saw ferocious and destructive fires hit the Arctic, Amazon and Indonesia (https://time.com/5754990/australia-carbon-emissions-fires/).

It’s thought that at least 25,000 koalas have died in wildfires in south Australia putting the species at serious risk of survival (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/05/thousands-koalas-burn-death-australia-fears-native-wildlife/), so I wanted to give the kids in my club the chance to celebrate these marsupials, along with ‘big foot’ kangaroos, whilst learning about the spiralling effects of bushfires.

The children loved drawing and creating some illuminating pictures with red and grey skies for fire and smoke and were intrigued by some of the facts, such as; wildfires in Australia have destroyed land roughly twice the size of Belgium, as well as thick smoke is covering an area wider than Europe as a result (information gained from World Economic Forum’s Instagram). The smoke has blown across to distant New Zealand and covered glaciers making them warm and melt faster which will have big knock on effects, not just to the local, but worldwide community as well (https://pluralist.com/greta-thunberg-australia-bushfires-melting-glaciers/).

The children amazed me by how keen they were to learn about this subject whilst understanding how all things in nature are linked; it’s just simply about cause and affect isn’t it. I heard a couple of the kids explaining bushfires to their siblings when they were being collected by their parents after the club. If this verbal messaging was to be disseminated rapidly across future generations, imagine how much better our combined vision of 2020 could be...so I’m looking forward to leading this workshop in nursery schools later this week too.

This comparatively short Ted Talk on Climate Change is absorbing and easily digestible so if you have a few minutes you might like to hear how it’s not fear that motivates, but rational hope for a better future, something which is particularly relevant with, and for, children.