Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Fight or Flight? The issues are many. But what about climatic change?

In the aftermath of the worst fires in the history of Victoria, the discussions start, the inquiry is yet to come. It seems like the fires of Black Friday in 1939 these fires will have far reaching consequences as the issues are aired, debated and investigated.

The hot topic in Australia at the moment in the decision to stay and defend one's property. It seems many of the deaths were the result of people staying and yet not having the resources to have any affect on the fire, let alone defend their property, or themselves. When they realised it was not possible to battle the inferno they got in their cars to leave. Sadly, many died trying to escape. Others are criticizing the lack of warning. Information was not circulated in time to give people a chance to escape.
CFA backs "defend or go" policy.
Fire authority warns against knee-jerk reaction to evacuation policy

Then there are those who say that more can be done in the name of prevention. There are those who say we need to return to, or increase the use of the aboriginal methods of burning off the undergrowth. Australian firestorms prompt call to return to Aboriginal bush control

Or that fire is something we need to understand, accept and prepare for if we are going to pursue that great Australian Dream of land around us in the outer green suburbs. Australians 'unprepared' for bushfires

Other issues at the moment include:
Power lines to blame for the fires, not arsonists. Why are they not dug into the ground like they are in so many other places around the world? Especially considering the damage that storms can do, gum trees dropping limbs, fire threat etc etc. Is it simply because it costs too much and no-one is prepared to bite the bullet and make the investment? Is there an unwillingness to be long-sited rather than short-sited?

An act of terrorism? A very scary thought. And if it is not true the spreading of such stories is in itself scary.

Bodies that will never be identified. Horrific to think that they have undergone those sort of conditions. What must the heat have been like? But how can we not identify people in this modern day and age? Is our fear of big brother and criminal intervention greater than our common sense? DNA registration would not be a bad thing in times like this? Did we not learn this from the tsunami?

Anger over not being able to return to their properties as roads and conditions are not safe. I understand the desire to go home, to see it for your own eyes, to be reunited with loved ones, to find out if they are still alive, to pick up the pieces and get on with life. But surely the police know what they are talking about when they say the roads are not safe? And perhaps there is some good that comes from staying in tents on an oval with other victims.

'Greenies' blamed for fires' fury. or National parks 'part of fire problem'. It is a complex issue and one I have contemplated a lot. Plant more trees is my motto, far too many have been chopped down in Australia - yet it is the trees that become a death trap. Angry survivors blame council 'green' policy. Perhaps we are just not meant to have a home among the gum trees.

And finally there is the overall environmental issue, seemingly overlooked. My first thoughts as I read the Swedish articles in DN, SvD, and many of the Swedish blogs about the fires is that Australians are still dealing with what has and is happening, they are in shock, in mourning and it is going to be a long time before they are ready to talk environment and consequences. Yet I know that Australians are not too keen to talk environment at the best of times. There is not the consensus there, like here, that weather extremes are due to climatic change and environmental damage. There doesn't seem to be the same willingness to accept responsibility, take action, make a difference. And it doesn't get nearly the amount of media coverage or political focus there that it gets here in Sweden. But aside from all that, it is not the time to start pointing the finger and telling people they need to live in a more environmentally conscious way.

However I did find, thanks to a cousin, a little article in The Age that suggests some people are willing to talk environment. Thank you Freya Mathews, you give me hope. I only hope the Government is willing to listen to you.

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