Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Preliminary muse - fires & the urban cocoon

Following up on Bushfires, rules and real harm minimisation, a comment from Neil Whitfield linked to an earlier post of mine on bushfires that I had forgotten, reminded me that that I had written previous posts linked to bush fires. I did a quick scan. The list that follows is not complete, but it will give a taste. Further comments follow the list. 

I do not pretend that the posts are especially profound, although they do provide something of an introduction to bushfires in an Australian context. The photo comes from the Sydney Morning Herald. Fires, Blue Mountains 2013

Looking back over the posts and the situations and responses that created them, I have no idea whether climate change has accentuated the Australian bushfire problem. I actually don't think that's important in considering the fires themselves.

Australia is a fire prone country. Our vegetation has been modified over thousands of years so that it actually needs fire to regenerate, but not just any fire; it needs fires of varying degrees of intensity, not the very hot fires that mark the current period. To the degree that climate change is occurring, it does not affect the basic equation. We still have to deal with a fire prone bush.

That is the issue that is exercising my brain. Australians live in a very urbanised society that wishes to preserve its cocoon. I sometimes wonder if the cocoon means that modern Australians are increasingly alienated from the realities of the Australian bush. They perch on the country, but are not part of it. What do you think?  


In a comment, Nathan drew my attention to this post of fires past - Trove Tuesday - October Bushfires.

Postscript 2

Neil has now brought up a companion post, STILL ON BUSHFIRES.


Evan said...

I think white Australians are still acting like they live in England.

I lived in Cairns briefly. Housing estates were being built with the houses not having any eaves!

The rates of skin cancer and lack of hats speak for themselves.

And not taking account of bushfires is another example.

Anonymous said...

I came across this look back at October bushfires past on another blog, and thought you may be interested.


Jim Belshaw said...

I don't think that's true, Evan. Actually, there is a fascinating story here about adaptation to the climate. We have gone urban! I don't have the basic reference book I need - I lent it and have yet to get it back - but I might still put up a short piece.

Nathan, I don't remember seeing that blog. My thanks: I have bookmarked it. I will bring the link up as a postscript to the post. Trove really is marvelous!

Neil said...

Did a supplementary post, Jim. http://neilcommonplacebook.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/still-on-bushfires/

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Neil. Will bring that up as another postscript.