People continue to disagree on when it is appropriate to talk politics—and to whom people should listen regarding politics—but it should be a consensus that everyone needs to support the fight against the wildfires that are ravaging Australia.

Some have said the fires point to another damaging effect of climate change, including actor Russell Crowe, who implored help in a statement issued during the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 5. Crowe missed the show because he was in his native Australia helping the effort to battle the blazes.

Indeed, Australia needs worldwide support.

According to CNN, as of the morning of Jan. 6, over 14 million of acres of land have caught fire, and over 20 people have died; that includes three of the 2,700 firefighters battling the flames. About a half billion animals have died in New South Wales, where 136 fires were burning as of Jan. 6.

According to Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, climate change is increasing the length of the wildfire season in Australia.

She said scientists saw this situation coming.

“We knew that if we have drought and a heat wave, the whole country is a tinderbox,” Perkins-Kirkpatrick said. “We knew it was going to happen.”

The occurrence of wildfires is normal, she said, but these are especially troublesome.

“Wildfires have been a part of the earth’s ecosystem since there was plant material to burn,” Perkins-Kirkpatrick said. “We’re all adapted to a certain amount of disturbance. I can get a certain number of colds per year and be OK, but if I’m sick for eight months in a row, that’s really going to wear on me. That’s the same thing with an ecosystem.”

Causes of such fires can include heat, dry conditions, lightning strikes and human actions.

Officials with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said the best way to help is by donating money, which helps victims buy what they need; such donations are better than food and clothing, which take up space and can be difficult to organize and distribute.

The Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief Fund is among the many ways to help. Thoughts and prayers are needed, but monetary donations mean more right now.

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