The bushfires in NSW and Queensland have dominated the Australian media landscape for days, yet it appears a not-that-small component of international Twitter users feel the crisis hasn’t received as much international attention as it deserves.
Australia Twitter users woke up on Wednesday morning to see a new hashtag trending: #AustraliaFires. Rather than sharing news and updates – as we’ve seen with the #NSWFires and #nswbushfires hashtags this week – tweets using the #AustraliaFires hashtag were a cry for the global media to pay attention.
“Australian bush fires are getting worse each day, this is so scary and upsetting and isn’t getting the media coverage needed,” one person tweeted. “The country is burning, animals are dying, people home’s are being burnt down. This is not a joke, people need to be made aware of this.”
Australian bush fires are getting worse each day, this is so scary and upsetting and isn’t getting the media coverage needed. The country is burning, animals are dying, people’s homes are being burnt down. This is not a joke, people need to be made aware of this #AUSTRALIAFIRES pic.twitter.com/MCoSjek7o4
— emi (@cIairefoyy) November 12, 2019
There are hundreds of these tweets, many with hundreds of likes and retweets. All of them are pleading for more ‘awareness’, whatever that means; some are even appealing to people like Shawn Mendes or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to use their platforms to help.
Many are comparing the Australian bushfires to those that ripped through the Amazon a few months ago, during which an estimated 7,000 square miles (or almost 20 million hectares) of land burned. Others are making the same comparisons to the Notre Dame fire that viral tweets (and subsequent media coverage) made in August:
where’s the same energy the world had when notre dame burnt down for the one million hectares that have burnt and continue to burn on the eastern coast of Australia? where is the coverage? donations? #AUSTRALIAFIRES
we need help.
— elleysse; misses harry (@signofstyles) November 12, 2019
One person has even made a direct hit on Scott Morrison, echoing plenty of the sentiments felt by the public in recent days: “Literally looks like scenes from an apocalyptic thriller. Scott Morrison fuck you for letting your people burn.”
— moon⁷✶ ♡ 빈 (@fforeverainn) November 12, 2019
The thing is – there has been international coverage. Quite a bit of it. CNN, The New York Times, Reuters, CBS, Fox News have all reported on Australia’s bushfires in the past two days; Bloomberg even covered our government’s refusal to address questions about the impact of climate change, while the BBC dedicated a piece to the heartwarming note left by firefighters at a property on the mid-north NSW coast.
The coverage is absolutely out there – it’s just not being seen by the dozens and dozens of people urgently tweeting about it.
Potentially these tweets speak to a deeper concern about inaction on climate change worldwide. More likely, people saw one viral tweet and didn’t take it one step further. Confirmation bias is one hell of a thing.
i know no one cares about what is happening in australia right now but look. these are our cities. people are dying. people are being burnt alive. houses are being destroyed. so many of us are in danger. please take a moment out of your day to be aware. this is serious. pic.twitter.com/Url7VOlsVT
— andie (@pandieex) November 12, 2019
The latest news – which has been thoroughly reported by major Australian media outlets – is that while hundreds of homes were destroyed during Tuesday’s catastrophic conditions, no lives were lost. All fires in NSW have now been downgraded to either an Advice or Watch and Act, while Queensland is bracing itself for a wind change this afternoon.