Saturday, January 18, 2020

We Are On Fire

(Photo: Jimmy Abbott @mostlymountains)

Yet again my ‘Shire Notes were blocked by Upper Hunter Shire Council management - apparently not up-beat enough and apparently the Scone Advocate would not approve ... sigh. Sometimes I truly despair - anyway Council Comms were wrong about the Scone Advocate because the editor ended up publishing them in letter format! (see below post)

Australia is on fire. Millions and millions of hectares have burnt, at least 25 people have died, more than a billion animals have perished, and we have lost our homes, our trees, our grasses and our unique bees and so much more. The losses from these fires are unfathomable and have plunged the nation into the depths of despair. Communities have been ravaged and will never be the same again.

Yet our leaders remain disconnected from the Australian people and the natural world, and they continue to refuse to listen to our fire chiefs who between them all have decades of experience and wisdom and knowledge. Instead ridiculous conspiracy theories are being pedalled as to where the fault lies in an attempt to distract from the complete lack of political action in relation to climate change adaptation and our desiccated continent. Despite three hundred and fifty million metric tonnes of CO2 having been belched into the atmosphere by these Australian bushfires (the worst bushfires ever), water is being carted to coal mines to keep them operating.

Without trees we cannot breathe; without soil we cannot eat; without water we cannot drink or fight fires ... and yet none of these have been considered important enough to protect and cherish. Instead we have a backbencher remark that 'footpaths don't burn' as though that kernel of an idea might shed some light onto where to now.

Many fear that these unprecedented catastrophic fires are indeed our new normal yet

Australian rural fire-fighters on the frontline are an ageing unpaid 'permanently on-call' voluntary workforce with meagre government support. Unquestionably these women and men are the nation's heroines and heroes; but they are exhausted, and they are injured and too many of them have died defending us.

Right now all levels of government in Australia need to park the politics, and roll up their sleeves and work alongside each other because if we are going to have half a chance we need policies that protect and respect the natural environment more than ever.

Australia as we know it depends on it; our very existence depends on it.

Shire notes initially prepared by me for Shire Notes in Scone Advocate, then blocked by Upper Hunter Shire Council then published anyway by Scone Advocate as a letter ... such silly and unnecessary shenanigans


  1. I'm just devastated reading this - your contribution and many others. Was interesting to read Peter Garret's piece in Le Parisien. Beds are Burning was also a soundtrack for our marches in support of Indigenous people here who were struggling to defend a woods against a plan to develop a golf course, which as you know is often a pretext for real-estate development and always false greening as golf greens are mown too short to be sustainable and have to be covered with pesticides. That was back in our (boreal) summer of 1990.

    Up here, down in your country and in many other places, Indigenous struggles play a part in environmental ones and vice versa.

    The smoke (in the high atmosphere) travelled as far as Chile and Argentina. That is a hell of a long way...

    Even in the face of this disaster, many commenters in media here as well are in utter denial of the crisis.

    While I was proud that many Canadian firefighters travelled to Australia to help their exhausted comrades, such a long flight is also very polluting and can't substitute for a professional force (as in France) with adequate training and numbers.

    1. I totally agree with everything you've written here. There is so much overwhelming sadness in the world, and we are led by such muppets. Sadly Big Corpa has got a stranglehold on all the public institutions and systems in our countries, and we are paying the high price and suffering damaging consequences.