Burning Questions

Australia is burning. I guess many of you have seen pictures, videos, news. Australia of course is our near neighbour, just across the Tasman. Close enough that in certain conditions Australian dust, smoke and ash reach us here in New Zealand. There is so much going on that I can’t go into much detail. I’ll just say there’s been lives lost, enormous areas of land burnt or under threat, many people have lost their homes, unthinkable consequences for native fauna and flora.

Firefighting is largely dependent on VOLUNTEER firefighters. There are big issues around availability of volunteer firefighters (many are employed and their time off is limited), funding for firefighting, Australian dependence on fossil fuels, the reluctance of politicians to acknowledge and plan for climate change. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison is feeling the heat for heading to Hawaii for a family holiday as the fires worsened. When two firefighters lost their lives he bowed to pressure and returned early from holiday.


This news presentation by the BBC is excellent and much praised by Australians on Twitter:   Australian bushfire anger explained

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has returned early from holiday as the country continues to battle a major bushfire crisis.

Ros Atkins, presenter of Outside Source on BBC World News, explains how the fires, a heatwave and drought have led to rising public anger in Australia.


Further Reading

Lenore Taylor, Guardian Australia’s editor, this weekend published a  direct response to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Prime minister, you need a credible climate policy. It’s too dangerous to keep pretending you have one. 

Ground Zero Today  :   WP blog-post by Steve Harrison who survived a fire storm by jumping into a “makeshift Raku kiln”, big enough to lay down in, that he’d made the day before. Balmoral, NSW, Australia. Posted the same day as the fire, 21 Dec 2019.


Firefighting – Kaikorai, Dunedin, New Zealand – Feb 2018

At this time we were renting a house in Kaikorai, Dunedin. I was at home and Nigel was returning to the city from a trip away. He couldn’t get home because of a roadblock but was able to take these photos. I was at home with a grandstand view of the helicopters but then realised it was getting big, becoming frightened as more helicopters joined the action and I began to worry about whether our home might be under threat. In the end it didn’t come near our house.

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Text by Liz, photos by Nigel; Exploring Colour (2019)

21 thoughts on “Burning Questions

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  1. Reblogged this on whatthenblog and commented:
    whatthenblog goes some way into saying how I feel about Mr Morrison and his government’s policies on climate change. I live on the south coast of NSW and we are surrounded by potentially catastrophic fires. Last Friday and Saturday we were given emergency warnings and warned to be ready to leave.These are the worst bushfires in my 80 year of summers in Australia.

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  2. I’m less than 75 km from the ‘megafire’ as it works its way inexorably in every direction according to the prevailing wind. We haven’t seen the sun properly for at least two weeks, perhaps more.
    The BBC explanation of the fires is very good, but unfortunately many people won’t see that, and many only watch commercial TV channels which don’t always tell the full story.
    We are heading for more horrendous days this coming weekend, with the temperature on Saturday forecast to be 40 degrees. The firefighters are exhausted. The whole situation – loss of life both human and animal, flora grazing lands and national parks is devastating.
    Our government is fiddling with coal while Australia burns.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Jane. Thinking of you this Christmas. I can’t really imagine what it’s like for you there although the events horrify me and the losses are devastating, I’d hate the uncertainty. I hope and pray that it’ll stay away from your location. Take care. I hope things will change for the better. Hugs from me xx

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  3. I have been seeing posts from blogger friends in Australia and the devastation is terrible. Our planet is suffering for our inattentiveness to its stewardship. It appears that most of our “leaders” are more concerned with their wealth the our health and that of the Earth and pay no heed to the people who have dedicated their lives to studying how to deal with such occurrences or avoid them altogether. We are lucky that in the region of the US where we live that our forests have been spared and we get enough precipitation to ward off fires, but the climate is changing and so might the situation of folks not experiencing these at the moment.

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  4. Although the fires are getting a lot of coverage here in the UK it’s a bit disjointed, so it was interesting to watch the BBC report to fill in gaps in my knowledge. We were shocked when over in NZ last month that the fires were having an impact there, over 2,000 miles from the burn sites. We were up around Lake Tekapo and disappointed that the mountains were barely visible through the haze. In our innocence we assumed this was a natural phenomenon and were stunned to be told by locals that the Aussie bushfires were to blame. Proof, if ever it were needed, that the world is small and interconnected and that in regards to climate change – and so much else besides – we’re all in this together.

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    1. Absolutely. Around that time we had one day even here in Tapanui where the sky was a very surreal and strange colour all day due to the Aussie bushfires. It was a fine day but the sun wasn’t getting through and there was just this weird other-worldly glow. Was glad when it went.

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  5. I’ve been watching the news reports with a feeling of horror and sadness. The scale of these fires is hard for us here to imagine and it’s hard to understand how Scott Morrison could have gone off on holiday while this is happening.

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    1. I don’t understand the scale Ann. Australia is huge and I can’t get my head around the enormous distances these fires cover and the resultant impacts on the natural landscape and wildlife. Terribly sad about the mounting losses of homes, property and even lives. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

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      1. The scale and the destruction is truly shocking. And that’s just for this year – what will happen next year? And the years after? Can the impact of global warming continue to be ignored when things like this happen? I’m hoping that we’ll start to see sense, but it seems that a lot of damage has to be done before we do.

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  6. I just read today about the person who escaped death by sheltering in the kiln. Australian bloggers I follow aren’t in any immediate danger, but fire is terrifying: unpredictable, and merciless. Like any tool, it can be used for good, but when out of control, or in the wrong hands, it can bring terrible results. It’s good that so many nations are helping, either with aircraft or personnel. There are many with knowledge and expertise that could be put to good use — too bad that their input isn’t always sought or taken seriously.

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