California fires: what’s happening (and how you can help right now)
“If you don’t believe in climate change, come to California,” tweeted California Governor Gavin Newsom. In this month alone, about 1.3 million acres have burned in California. And nearly 600 fires have burned in a week. These include the LNU Lightning Complex Fire and SCU Lightning Complex Fire — both of which are the second and third largest California fires recorded in the state’s history.
If you don’t believe in climate change, come to California.
This is from today. And is just a small part of the nearly 600 fires we are battling this week. pic.twitter.com/iv4stV3Aax
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 23, 2020
With more than 14,000 firefighters battling major fires, tens of thousands of residents evacuating, and countless animals being displaced — it’s a lot to take in. However, even if we feel overwhelmed and maybe even powerless at times, there are still so many ways to take meaningful action. From supporting local animal shelters to donating to relief efforts, every tweet, dollar, and act of kindness makes a difference.
Above all, it’s our responsibility to stay educated, speak up, and lead with purpose. Our fellow beings and trees depend on it.
California fires: how you can help right now
Show love to local animals
Herd & Flock Animal Sanctuary is home to 40 animals including cows, pigs, and goats. Since they were forced to relocate all of their animals, they now face a new challenge of having to rebuild. You can support their mission by donating here, giving them a follow on Instagram, and sharing their beautiful work for animals with your loved ones.
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Hi, Friends. What a week… Katie and I and all 40 of our animal sanctuary residents are safe and sound, sheltering at @charliesacres in Sonoma. Bottom line is that we had a harrowing 18 hours, and in the end our home and 4 of 5 barns are safe. Tuesday night, we started to prepare to evacuate around 11:30pm when our neighbor came by to say the fire was coming our way. By 2am with the sky aglow and only 1/2 our animal residents loaded, we decided we had to leave. We opened all the gates to the pastures so those being left behind could run. I can't express the anguish leaving those cows, goats and pigs behind. It wasn’t until 2pm that we and 5 other incredible women with trucks and trailers were let back in to see if our remaining animals survived. By 3:30pm were we driving back out. The animals are safe and making themselves at home here at Charlie’s Acres in Sonoma. We’ll shelter here until we can safely go back. A combination of good luck and fierce firefighters saved nearly all our structures. Fierce Firefighters! Incredible. Two of our neighbors lost everything. IMO 2020 can basically go jump off a cliff! So happy we still have a home to return to. And overwhelmed by all the work ahead. As our friend said, “Our hearts are breaking and doing cartwheels all at the same time.” #lnulightningcomplex #evacuation #firefightingheros #rescuepigs #rescuecows #rescuechickens #rescuegoats #safeanimals #barn #farmfire #wildfires #thankyouforefighters #farmsanctuarylife #rescuefarmanimals #rebuildstrength #thankfulheart
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Supporting local animal shelters, like Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, which is taking in pets of fire evacuees for free, is another generous way to get involved. And as you’d imagine, when fires force people to evacuate, animals often get lost or left behind. So it’s an important reminder that if you’re in a fire zone to bring your domestic animals indoors, and to have an evacuation plan in place for you and all your loved ones (animals and humans!).
Help victims and relief efforts
The CDP California Wildfires Recovery Fund helps the Center for Disaster Philanthropy support those affected by the wildfires. Also, the Red Cross is seeking volunteers and monetary donations for relief efforts.
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If you’re interested in supporting firefighters, consider donating to The California Fire Foundation. This nonprofit provides emotional/financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters, and the communities they protect. You can also contribute to GlobalGiving — California Wildfires, which provides support for firefighters and also supplies food, water, and medicine to people in need.
Another option is to use your social media to publicly show appreciation for firefighters or send a letter of “thanks” to your local station.
Cut your own carbon footprint
As Newsom said, one thing is undoubtedly visible: the connection between fires and climate change. But how exactly are the two linked? Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory told the NY Times: “Behind the scenes of all of this, you’ve got temperatures that are about two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer now than they would’ve been without global warming.” This leads to more drying of vegetation → more likelihood of burn. (Read more about the link between climate change and fires, here.)
Luckily, there are so many ways to cut your carbon footprint and fight against climate change no matter where you live. One of the biggest ways is to embrace a more plant-based lifestyle. Why? Plant-based diets generally produce less greenhouse gas emissions than meat-based diets. They also conserve water and involve less deforestation. Not to mention, eating less meat and more plants protects our beloved animal friends!
Here are other simple and eco-conscious lifestyle changes to make:
- Compost (check out our full guide to composting: here)
- Shop locally
- Walk more
- Ditch single-use plastic-waste
- Meal plan
- Switch to LED lights
- Repurpose old items
Speak up about climate change
When it comes to addressing this environmental issue, every voice counts. Contact your representatives and ask them to take action on climate change. Share resources in a way that speaks to you — whether that’s at a dinner table with your friends & family or on your Instagram feed. Make your voice heard!
If you want to stay updated on the California fires, follow Cal Fire. And while you’re here, check out these posts for inspiration on how to be more eco-friendly in your day to day.
- 8 simple ways to make Mother Earth happy
- 10 easy ways to introduce zero-waste into your life
- Impactful ways to continue to help the plant even from home