For 350 Australia these bushfires are personal. All of us seem to know someone affected by these megafires – whether it’s folks being evacuated from their homes, those that have lost theirs, or some we are still waiting to find out about.
At this stage, 25 people have died. Our thoughts are with their families and friends and those communities devastated by these fires. We thank the firefighters, everyone helping neighbours, friends and strangers and all those donating time and money.
Well over a million hectares have burnt in NSW over the last few months. The NSW Rural Fire Services chief said: “The real challenge is that we have an enormous amount of country that is still alight. They won’t have this out for days, weeks, months. Unfortunately, the forecast is nothing but above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall over the next few months and we’ve still got summer around the corner.”
For me, forests I fought to have protected two decades ago are being burnt to the ground and their immeasurable complexity and biodiversity are gone. The communities around them, many of which rely on the tourism in those National Parks, are in great peril today and in the future. Pictures of burnt koalas receiving medical care are just a small indication of the biological devastation we are facing.
Then there is the massive emission of greenhouse gases from these fires. Terrible irony.
There has been a ridiculous, disrespectful circus as politicians play politics with each other.
Now is the time to talk about climate change and our future, and start to take rapid and substantial action.
Both of our major political parties are captured by the coal and gas industries, unwilling to stand up for what Australia and Australians need from them.
It is time for well-informed discussion and the rapid implementation of good climate change policy.
We should listen to the people who understand what is happening and have solutions. Those who use evidence. People who have spent years observing the changes and have substantial on-ground experience.
Fire chiefs past and present are making it very clear that we can no longer ignore the changing climate. Greg Mullins, the former commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, recently visited with fire chiefs in California. NSW and California have both faced unprecedented fire seasons and climate change is the driver. Mr. Mullins said on Monday:
“I’m confident that our national government, when the smoke and dust settles, will finally see the obvious and understand the word “unprecedented”. I’m sure it will then start to take decisive action to tackle the base cause – greenhouse emissions – then use the high moral ground to lean on other countries to also do the right thing.”
Let us hope that will be one of the positive outcomes from this season of horror.
PS – You can also donate and help with the immediate bushfire relief efforts for local communities, :