AFTER THE BUSHFIRES February 11, 2009Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Environment.
I am one of those people, who every year become concerned about the possibility of bushfires.
There is good reason to be concerned in my opinion because anyone with familiarity with the bush can appreciate what a tinderbox it becomes with days of high temperatures and strong winds. Ever since we moved here we have been told stories of the 1968 bushfires. I remember coming home by train through the National Park with fire burning up to the tracks. While we are close to the ocean, there are possible weather configurations, which would make us more vulnerable to extreme fire danger.
None of which stopped us planting trees on our block. When trees are planted, often the results in ten and twenty years are not envisaged. They provide shade and habits for birds. Once you have trees have grown, then it is necessary to get approval from the Council, which was not forthcoming. I suppose the tree people at the Council have some expertise. Nobody to my knowledge has suggested a license to plant large trees on your property as well as one to cut them down.
Climate denialists aside, we are told that global warming makes extreme weather more likely. The combination of bushfires and floods in Australia and the heavy snowfalls in Britain might be evidence. So what happens when these events become more frequent? Compassion fatigue and indifference are likely to replace the existing mood, and people will find excuses for behaving in a more indifferent way as they always do, while retaining our sense of moral unrighteousness as we always do.
The causes of fires can be problematic. My attitude is that all risks should be eliminated. Let alone my own interest in these matters – all my ill gotten earthly possessions -and there are the question of my neighbours possessions and safety to be taken into account. We used to have a drum used as an incinerator, but that was years ago, and there is no need for it.There would be further benefit in eliminating cigarettes, and I have seen people in the bush smoking.
Still I think the PM stepped over the line when he described the lighting of fires in Victoria as “mass murder”. ABC News Online reports:
A new police taskforce is being established to investigate bushfires that were deliberately lit.
Police are certain some of them, including the one at Churchill, were started by arsonists
Earlier today Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said deliberately lighting fires is evil, describing arson as incomprehensible.
“There is no excuse for this. None at all for this,” he said.
“As I said yesterday it is simply murder on a grand scale, let us attend to this unfinished business of the nation and come to grips with this evil thing.”
He said Australia must do more to prevent arson.
“Every member of this House cannot comprehend how anyone could ever do that,” Mr Rudd said.
“Something which the nation must now attend to as a matter of grave urgency is the problem of arson – where it happens, why it happens, what more can be done about it.”
There are reasons for people to lit fires. Sometimes, as we have witnessed in our neighbourhood, people get drunk affecting their judgment. Some are emotionally and psychologically disturbed. I once lived in a boarding house in Perth, where one of the other guests repeatedly set fire to the place. On reflection, I could have been killed by jumping into a burning room. Opening windows and doors increased the ferocity of the burning.
In these matters, I think the law should be applied impartially without our political leaders attempting to stoke emotions against out groups and individuals. Our justice system is one of vengeance, not understanding and reconciliation. Sometimes the problems should be foreseen and prevented.
It seems fair enough to say that more should be done to prevent arson, but what can be done? I do not know whether it is the case, but I suspect that we do not do enough to educate people about the fire risk.