PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) — Sixers’ Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden are among Australian NBA players contributing $750,000 to aid brushfires devastating Australia. Simmons tweeted about this issue Tuesday, saying “there is still so much devastation but I am proud that we could all come together w/ help from [the National Basketball players Assocation] & [the National Basketball Assocation] it is truly appreciated.”
There is still so much devastation but I am proud that we could all come together w/ help from @TheNBPA & @nba it is truly appreciated. There is much more to be done #AustralianBushFires pic.twitter.com/V3Xy13AxQv
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) January 7, 2020
Simmons and Bolden are joined by the Suns’ Aron Baynes, Ryan Broekhoff of the Mavericks, Matthew Dellavedova and Dante Exum of the Cavaliers, Joe Ingles of the Jazz, Thon Maker of the Pistons and Patty Mills of the Spurs.
“We are heartbroken over the devastation these fires are causing all across our homeland,” expressed the players in a joint statement. “Our thoughts are with our families, friends and all of the people of Australia. We hope you feel our love and support and know that we will continue to bring awareness to this crisis globally and provide assistance in any way we can.”
The blazes, which have been burning across Australia for months, have razed homes and wiped out entire towns. Across Australia, nearly 18 million acres of land have been burned — much of it bushland, forests and national parks, home to the country’s beloved and unique wildlife.
Nearly half a billion animals have been impacted by the fires in NSW alone, with millions potentially dead, according to ecologists at the University of Sydney. That figure includes birds, reptiles, and mammals, except bats. It also excludes insects and frogs — meaning the true number is likely much higher.
The total number of animals affected nationwide could be as high as a billion, according to Christopher Dickman, the University of Sydney ecologist who led the report.
rebuild when the fires have stopped.
Australia is a strong and resilient country and I urge you all to be brave, kind and compassionate to each other through this extremely hard time. 3/3
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) January 3, 2020
Fires are nothing new in Australia, but they have been growing more intense and becoming more destructive in recent years, a problem that has been exacerbated by climate change. And animals have been on the front lines — Australia has the highest rate of species loss of any area in the world, and researchers fear that rate could increase as the fire disaster continues.
“The scale of these fires is unprecedented,” said Dieter Hochuli, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Sydney. “There are substantial concerns about the capacity of these (ecosystems) to rebound from the fires.”
(©Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)