Bushfires in Australia: who’s going to talk about the elephant in the room?


Photo Credit: flickr user bertknot

A worrying time for your correspondent this week readers as bushfires, which have claimed well over a hundred properties continue to rage in my region of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

While my town is safe for now, bushfires rage further up the Mountains and down in the Lower Mountains where over the bulk of property loss has occurred. This is not to ignore other bushfires in Australia occurring in other tinder-dry regions where unseasonably hot conditions and lack of decent rain is a major problem.

Now is not the time to pontificate as the emergency situation is still very real according to the Rural Fire Service however when the time comes for sitting down and evaluating the loss, will the subject of a changing climate be included? Controversy rages higher than any bushfire on this subject with many people saying that the jury is still out on the human cause of climate change. This is not to dismiss their point of view.

However with devastating bushfire seasons arriving earlier and earlier every year, rain at a premium and firies from around the country in my city in the national park, perhaps the IPCC is correct in predicting major climate change increase for most of Australia?

I say this readers without a shred of scientific background or knowledge to back up my thinking and stand to be corrected. However ignoring the extremists: the deniers, narks and fossil fuel fans, mainstream thinking does appear to back that global warming is human based. This of course backed by scientific study after scientific study (see references).

So when the brave firies and their fire trucks leave after the latest emergency, and we all sit down to register our loss what will we do? Will we as a community try to put in place steps to at least mitigate the effect of devastating bushfires in Australia? Perhaps most importantly, will the subject of renewable energy be included?

Solar energy advocates have always sold renewables as not just a form of clean power but as a way of reducing pressure on global warming. Their argument, which is very persuasive, is that we need to move completely away from fossil fuel energy to a clean, renewable energy world in order that rampant global warming be abated. This is the very issue which policymakers have tended to put on the backburner (sorry) as something for which future generations can resolve. here climate policy has a short a memory as the next election cycle in Australia.

Will the latest bushfires in Australia ring a few bells in Canberra and the state capitals? Or have they been ringing for quite a while now? Have your say on this important issue either here or over at our Facebook Page.

Like to donate to the NSW bushfire appeals? You can at the Red Cross Appeal and the Salvation Army Appeal.


  1. Interesting that authorities (again) acknowledge that overhead wiring started some of these massive fires. When governments are really serious about the massive losses and expense of fighting bushfires, wiring will be deep-sixed. Not holding my breath. Short-term thinking rules… .

  2. Alternative energy will certainly help but at the end of the day the facts are simply:every extra child born requires more housing, clothes, energy, transportation and that equals more green house gases to produce or make this happen. The only long term solution is world population reduction and how many politicians do you know that would agree to that.

    • Elisabeth Meehan says

      People often mention world population when they don’t want to do anything constructive themselves – blame China, India, the third world. Not sure if this applies to you, I hope not.
      The fact is that a person living a first world lifestyle consumes far more energy than a village in Africa or India.
      Australia has among the highest per capita emissions in the world, and we “outsource” a lot of our manufacturing to China and other places.
      Ask not what the world can do for you, but what you can do for the world – reduce, re-use, recycle, have a smaller home and car, get solar, work close to home, downsize. You save on cleaning, carpets, maintenance, everything! And have more leisure time to read and listen to the radio, walk and enjoy life!

    • All that’s true of course; the problem is that restricting reproduction flies in the face of the Evolutionary dictate. ie In the big scheme of things life on this planet has NO purpose other than procreation. To challenge that invalidates the raison d’etre for life . We engineer our own extinction.

      On the other hand, if we continue to reproduce/consume in the fashion of a virulent cancer ~including the production of endless greenhouse gases ~ we will (yep!) engineer our own extinction.

      So take your pick, and understand that Ma Nature couldn’t care less. She’s seen it all before, often. As always Natural Selection will prevail, and Survival of the Fittest will be the benchmark.
      So ‘don’t worry, be happy’. Enjoy what you’ve got be thankful for what you’ve had. In the Big Scheme of Things we’re really not important enough to worry about.

      • ps…. the closing paragraph from ‘The Social Contract’ (by one of my favourite authors):-
        “. As life is larger than man, so is life wiser than are we. As evolution has made us possible, so will evolution sit in final judgment. As natural selection declared us in, so natural selection, should our hubris overcome us, will declare us out. But the stark gray morning will never come to be, for laws larger than you or me will, with impartial, imperishable accord, at some night-court in the course of man’s darkness, condemn us as a species to extinction — or more probably will enforce on us the laws of all flesh.”

        NOTE:- If anyone wants to read the whole book I’m happy to send a USB version. Get me here–> [email protected]

  3. Finn Peacock says

    Thanks for the article Rich – stay safe out there in K-town.

  4. World population reduction? Pollies go first, maybe? Seriously, we live in the continued hope of quantum leaps in technology. It has started, with better and better battery breakthroughs. And the fukuppy message is starting to get through… .

    • ….. and a small child dies very five seconds as part of the process..
      Your approach expresses the philosophy of a cancerous tumour.
      The fallacy of your wishful thinking has been demonstrated by the accelerating proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria/etc. and the stunning mutative talent of a virus. Forgive my cynicism: I’ve just returned after ten days at the fire-front, where I’ve witnessed the horrendous death of perhaps 10,000 animals.

  5. If you think the bush fires are caused by lack of rain then maybe you should be agitating to have lake Eyre filled with water.. the lake is 50 or thereabouts feet deep so only requires a channel to be dug from the closest coast line and there you have it lots of natural rain and a new fishing and tourism industry. the lake would self flush the salt out to sea in the flood years.


    Getting your hands onto a couple hundred years of rainfall data wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    • Elisabeth Meehan says

      The link you have entered has gone, however, as far as I am aware Lake Eyre is an inland lake, fed by rivers flowing inland, and it doesn’t “self flush” out to sea in the flood years.
      I would be interested in more detail on this.
      Also, scientists study the growth rings of trees hundreds of years old, and get a good idea of past rainfall from that data, as well as other indirect measures.
      Sadly, our rainfall continues to drop, and once fertile land is now barren and saline.
      You just need to look at the tree skeletons in the wheat belt of WA to know this has happened in recent times.
      Very sad, as I was born there in the 1950s, when the country was full of beautiful trees, and every season was a good one, relative to today, which has much better wheat varieties.

  6. ???? Thinking backwards:- Since Lake Eyre is 15 metres BELOW sea level, what about channelling the sea TO Lake Eyre. What’s the possibility of a huge, permanent body of water in The Centre creating a whole different ecological/meteorological scenario. Given the location/climate a massive solar-farm could probably power a desalination industry, and the canals (presumably mostly above ground) could be used as transport thoroughfares for barges, etc. (I’d probably be willing to pay tax the first time in my life for such a scheme

    EDIT BY RONALD: I don’t think vagrant is the right word. Asking for rent might be a better descriptor than begging.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      If a canal is built the gradient from the coast to Lake Eyre is so low the water won’t flow. This means a pipeline and pumping stations would be required. Once the seawater gets there it will evaporate at an average of 1.9m per year leaving behind about 3.5cm of salt, so it wouldn’t take Lake Eyre long to significantly silt up. Or rather, salt up.

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