I shared this picture on The Miniature Smallholding Facebook page on 10th November.
"This is my mates kid, looking out at the fires near their house in Port Macquarie." - Dave Forbes
To put things into perspective, the area where these fires are raging are New South Wales and Queensland on the east coast of Australia. They are up near the tropics and this time of year is supposed to be their wet season, but their rains have been missing in action for a couple of years now.
I'm in South Australia and our summers are as dry as they come. We are used to getting bushfires as soon as the hot days arrive. We prepare for it with burn offs and cutting back any dried overgrowth (or is that undergrowth?) At the time of sharing that picture we'd just had a day shoot up into the 40s Celsius (that's over 100 Fahrenheit) and were getting fires on the Yorke and Eyre peninsulas which were sending the smell of wood smoke over to Adelaide. Luckily it was just one day and a cool change with some rain brought things back under control.
On the east coast the fires are still raging and now, while in South Australia we have a week of temperatures which are looking to peak for the next two days at 46°C (115°F) and this heatwave is moving east. Thousands of homes have already been lost in those ongoing fires and I'm struggling to find a number on the death toll.
It would be easy to just chalk this all down to climate change, but it seems that a lot more is going on than we might first realise. Yes, our climate is changing, but why? What has been going on to reach this tipping point?
In a country renowned for droughts and in a modern world where we have a full working knowledge of how forests keep the rains coming in, why is Australia becoming one of the worst countries for deforestation and why are the rivers being dammed and siphoned off to mining, fracking and even commercial bottlers?
I recently came across @maxigan and some of the work he's been doing looking into the droughts in New South Wales. Some may not agree with all the conclusions drawn from his discoveries, but this video is worth a watch if only to get you thinking. In the comments he has added a load of links in reply to someone's request for more materials on what he is discussing.
While Australians are practically screaming for the government to stop selling our water and protesting fracking, the government is using tax payers dollars to build dams to sell their that, often to these very fracking companies.
In the last 200 years nearly half of Australia's forest cover has been cleared. Not only has this been allowed by government, at times it's positively been encouraged and still is being encouraged by them. Yet this government seems to be the very entity that people are demanding bring in laws to stop deforestation. Do we really still think the government is working for us?
Problems are happening globally, but we can only affect what is happening locally. Has the time come to stop complaining about what others are doing in other countries and each start doing something about what is going wrong in our own countries? As Germaine Greer demonstrated in her book, The Rainforest Years, it's not completely impossible. There may still be things we can fix.
As I think of all those families driven from their homes by fires and those who have lost loved ones, for some reason I'm reminded of the Live Aid song, Do They Know it's Christmas? Some snow would certainly be a blessing here at the moment, but there won't be snow in Australia this Christmastime and throwing money at it isn't going to help either.