The Meeting Place

FIRES...the new normal?

Woke up today to grey skies, choking air....the new normal? The day is closing and most of our view is still grey and occluded. Still reeking of fire. And we are at a fair distance from the tragic consequences of the immediate fires.  We in rural NSW are learning that the biggest threat from climate change for us is fire. We who live with bush surroundings are scared. Most rural dwellers are surrounded by bush. Where is PM Morrison? What does he have to say about "the new normal"?  

We need more planes to drop water. Will our government give us these resources or will our government continue to deny the effects of climate change? 

 

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Some history.

1926 Black Sunday 60 dead 1,000 buildings destroyed

1939 Black Friday 71 dead 5,000 buildings destroyed

1967 Black Tuesday 62 dead 1,300 buildings destroyed

1983 Ash Wednesday 75 dead 3,000 buildings destroyed

2009 Black Saturday 180 dead 3,500 buildings destroyed

 In 2009 we were in Victoria and to wake up and hear that 180 were dead wasn't possible.  But it was.

Seems like we're heating up and these stats from the BOM are only up until 2010. Guess the bushfires will follow the heat trend.

Number of days each year where the Australian area-averaged daily mean temperature is extreme. Extreme days are those above the 99th percentile of each month from the years 1910–2017. These extreme daily events typically occur over a large area, with generally more than 40 per cent of Australia experiencing temperatures in the warmest 10 per cent for that month.

Source.

 

The latest 'First Dog on the Moon' cartoon in The Guardian (Australia) is spot on. Tried to paste it up but couldn't for some reason. Titled:

We mustn’t bring politics into the disastrous situation that was created by ... wait for it ... POLITICS

 

The latest 'First Dog on the Moon' cartoon in The Guardian (Australia) is spot on. Tried to paste it up but couldn't for some reason. Titled:

We mustn’t bring politics into the disastrous situation that was created by ... wait for it ... POLITICS

Click on blue for cartoon

Opinion piece from The Guardian:

This is climate changed. Pray for rain. Pray harder for leadership

We had a bushfire two months ago that burned most of our property. It didn’t matter. It burned again

Shares920Comments698Badja Sparks, resident of Wytaliba.

 ‘Wytaliba has lost two lives and more than half our homes, our school, our bridge, our wildlife and 40 years of work to build a community. What was our paradise is now ash.’ Photograph: Steve Evans

I have been a member of the Wytaliba community near Glen Innes for 40 years.

We lost two of our community members in last Friday’s bushfires, and the father of my great-grandson is in Royal North Shore hospital being treated for severe burns while trying to save his house and his dead neighbour.

Nearly 50% of our able adults are members of the Wytaliba RFS, a figure envied by many other brigades. Over those 40 years on our 1,400-ha property, we have had more than a dozen out-of-control bushfires that were successfully controlled, most of them in recent years.

Former Australian fire chiefs say Coalition ignored their advice because of climate change politics  Read more

Over the past three years, in cooperation with NSW forestry, national parks and the RFS, we have had very extensive controlled burning in the state forest and national park on our perimeter.

On 14 September, after an outbreak of fires across the northern tablelands, high winds caused embers to spot more than 10km on to the centre of Wytaliba.

After an initial emergency the fire weather abated, but over the next week the fire spread across much of the property.

In a large operation more than 20 RFS trucks, more than 100 firefighters, bulldozers and waterbombers were successfully deployed to help defend our homes. All were saved. Much of Wytaliba was blacked out.

Carol – the mayor of Glen Innes with a 20-year RFS service medal – and I have a large cleared area around our double-brick house.

 

It wasn't on the ground. It was a firestorm in the air – raining fire

The September fire burned to our perimeter. This was just two months ago. Everything that should be done was done, and lots more.

The fire that came last Friday was of another order of magnitude altogether. A crown fire roaring in from the west on a hot afternoon with an 80km/h wind – it wasn’t on the ground. It was a firestorm in the air – raining fire.

There was no fuel on the ground; it was already burned.

The heat ahead of the fire front ignited nearly everything in its path. Before he saw any flame my neighbour’s car exploded. They just escaped with their lives. You can see the live footage on Monday’s ABC 7.30 program.

 

Our house was severely damaged but not destroyed. We weren’t home. Others were not so lucky.

Wytaliba has lost two lives and more than half our homes, our school, our bridge, our wildlife and 40 years of work to build a community. What was our paradise is now ash.

Thanks to the heroics of Wytaliba RFS and residents, and the Reddestone RFS who incredibly crossed the burning bridge to help us, some was saved.

 We've been in bushfire hell in Glen Innes – and the scientists knew it was comingCarol Sparks   Read more

“Today is not the day to talk about climate change.”

No, yesterday was, or the day before, or the month before, or the year before. But it didn’t get a mention.

Now we have the reality, and the mention it gets is: “Don’t talk about it now.”

So the politicians (and the media) turn the talk to hazard reduction burns, or the lack of them, as something else to blame on the inner-city raving lunatics.

We had a bushfire two months ago that burned most of our property. It didn’t matter. It burned again.

This is climate changed. We’re in the worst drought recorded. A million hectares of bush has burned. Barnaby says it’s Greens voters and the sun’s magnetic field.

Pray for rain. Pray harder for leadership.

 Badja Sparks is a longtime resident of Wytaliba. His home was badly damaged in last Friday’s fires

 This article was originally published by the Glen Innes Examiner and is republished with permission


 

A 51-year-old man has been charged for allegedly lighting a blaze that threatened homes in northern NSW.

Police said the man was attempting to backburn for the protection of his cannabis crop and made no attempt to control the blaze.

Police allege the man lit the fire, which has grown out of control and burnt more than 3500 hectares, to protect his cannabis crop near Ebor, east of Armidale in the Northern Tablelands on Thursday.

The man was refused bail and is expected to appear before Armidale Local Court on today, Saturday.

Commonwealth Bank lawyer Christopher Sun has been refused bail after lighting fire!!

By Peter FitzSimonsNovember 17, 2019 — 12.00am. All of us who were hoping the whole climate change thing was simply "Y2K II", that after the big scare it would all just go away much the same way Y2K did, should be shifting uncomfortably in our seats after this week's devastating bushfires.

We hoped it was "all froth and fury, signifying nothing", and now we have our answer. Precisely what the scientists predicted for Australia – longer bushfire seasons with more intense bushfires – is happening before our eyes.

NSW Rural Fire Service crews talk as flames burn in the background.

NSW Rural Fire Service crews talk as flames burn in the background.CREDIT:AAP

But if you wanted to glare angrily in specific directions right now for our lack of preparation for the sheer destructive power of these fires, you might start with the Prime Minister, yes? You might question how, as one of the twitterati put it, the PM "had time to meet with 21 religious leaders in August on the religious freedom bill but no time to meet [23] experts on fire season."

"It would have been good to have extra water-bombers along with those thoughts and prayers."

By any measure this is a fair point. Those fire experts begged for a meeting as they could see what was coming, but no time could be found.

Surely, we may also look sideways at the NSW government, which could find a couple of billion dollars for new stadiums in Sydney we don't need but did not have equal enthusiasm for allocating resources the bush was crying out for to defend against bushfires. The widespread charge that most of the slashing and burning done by the NSW government was on the budget of Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service is bitterly disputed by the government.

The least that can be agreed is that despite the expert warnings of what was coming, the NSW government failed to respond in a manner that might even begin to look like prescience.

But what is the group you could least blame? I am going to go with the Greens, and greenies in general. They have for decades been shrilly warning of precisely what we are seeing, and have been proven tragically correct.

 Who, though, is being most blamed. The Greens and the greenies! We have seen it all week: on radio, TV, columnists, politicians and on social media – the outrageous 'Big Lie' that this is all their fault, because their specific policies have prevented hazard reduction burning.

Enter Greg Mullins the former NSW fire commissioner, who has spoken out on this: "It is often either too wet, or too dry and windy to burn safely. Blaming 'greenies' for stopping these important measures is a familiar, populist, but untrue claim." And he is demonstrably correct.

In the first place, the Greens have no specific policy against hazard reduction, and have a specific policy in favour of it. Here is their official policy: "Hazard reduction, including manual, mechanical and hazard reduction burning activities should be strategically planned to protect the community and vulnerable assets while minimising the adverse impacts of these activities on the environment."

In the second place, in NSW, there is no record – ever, anywhere – of a Greens-dominated council ever holding back hazard-reduction burning.

 In the third place, there are bugger-all Greens on councils and in governments to begin with. See, right now, there are 1480 councillors in NSW. Of these, just 58 – count 'em – 58 are Greens.

But they are the ones to blame! Such extraordinary power they have.

Those maintaining this is all the Greens fault look ridiculous – and no one more than you, Barnaby.

Sydney Morning Herald  17/11/2019

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