The latest catch cry being shouted everywhere (sick of hearing it) is that ‘We must declare a climate emergency!‘. Local councils especially are jumping onto this bandwagon and declaring that there is now a climate emergency. What exactly is the emergency and what rescue, recovery and mitigation activities are these councils undertaking? When an emergency is declared, it usually involves a real and present danger or attending to the after effects of some natural disaster that has affected a vast area and/or number of people. All I see about me, after these declarations have been made, are people going about their normal business. No one appears to be aware that an emergency is afoot and that they are now subject to emergency action as detailed by whatever procedures normally take affect in such circumstances. We may have fire emergencies, flood emergencies, cyclone emergencies etc, but what is a climate emergency? Continue reading
After what I thought was a fairly mild Summer, with only a few hot spells (20+/-C to 40C and back to 20+/-C in successive days), the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) once again declared it the hottest on record, as they always do. Despite the BOM’s usual prestidigitation, the bushfires only started in Gippsland with a vengeance come Autumn. For many days we lived in the smoke palls from numerous fires burning in our north and east, but fared much better than many who lost their homes in the Bunyip fires that raged north-west of our township. Any thoughts of going camping before the weather started to change were rapidly quashed as more areas to our north and east began to burn and eventually the High Country was ostensibly closed off to all visitors. Even locations in the south at Wilson’s Promontory were evacuated due to fires.
When we moved to our rural abode, one of the first things I enquired about from the local CFA was bushfire emergency planning, prevention and action recommendations applicable to our township. Being a bush traveller for decades, I’m well aware of the risks and safety precautions necessary even in Winter time when camping in the High Country and, while much the same applies in a township, I wanted to make sure whether there were any specifics I needed to be aware of so that I had all bases covered. Additionally, at the beginning of each Summer the CFA issues a number warnings and preparatory information for residents as a reminder that they need to be ever vigilant in the hotter months of the year, as well as having evacuation plans in place should the need ever arise. Having experienced and fought High Country bushfires and all too many times travelled through what remains of the bushfires, I was very cognisant of the potential dangers.
…and everywhere else for that matter. Just as the 2017 Easter school holidays began, DELWP decided it was a good time to start preventative burns in Gippsland, amongst other areas. Proper preventative burns have been long overdue, so I hope that this isn’t just a bit of tokenism, but the beginning of a serious attempt to address years of neglected bushfire prevention measures. What’s ironic is that these fires have now created a massive smoke haze across southern Victoria, stretching from Melbourne to at least Wilsons Promontory. Smoke health alerts were issued amongst other warnings and my wife mentioned this to me the other day, but I hadn’t noticed anything locally. It wasn’t until I took our hounds for a run at Mossvale Park early the next morning that it struck me as to how extensive the smoke was across the entire area, as far as you could see.