Australia, which was hit by wildfires last year, has been slow to respond to the climate crisis

Australia, which was hit by wildfires last year, has been slow to respond to the climate crisis

For miles, on a road through the hills, an extension of the trunks of burnt wood. Repeated vegetation obscures the extent of the damage caused by fires in this region of Batmans Bay, 250 km south of Sydney, nearly a year ago.

It was at these heights that Annette Greer and her husband settled a few years ago in a large single-story house, on the hillside and with a breathtaking view of the beach and the beach. They lost almost everything last year. “On New Year’s Day, we found ourselves completely surrounded by flames. We had to fetch water all night to prevent the house from being attacked,” Annette recalled.

Over the next few months, he undertook reconstruction work and made tens of thousands of francs his house more fire resistant. The wooden fences were replaced with metal, and two new groundwater tanks were installed, and at the boundary of the house, a large retaining wall once made of wooden boards and mulch was replaced by larger blocks. Rock.

Also on the side of his garage, a sophisticated solar battery from Tesla. “When the fire got here, the utility poles fell first! We had no power for three weeks. Never again!”

Also read: The new face of global warming is the “mega-fire”.

In all, last year’s fire wave destroyed more than 18 million hectares across the country, but killed 34 people and more than a billion animals. A tragic world record that prompted members of parliament to open a commission of inquiry earlier this year. Its results are very clear: triggered by climate change, fires of this magnitude will return. It creates a list of 80 recommendations to protect, or in case of failure, minimize its damage.

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Tribal techniques

The Commission advises to exchange more with the tribal communities in particular. Because if last year’s fire had been taken at an unprecedented rate, Bushfires would have been part of the rhythm of the seasons in Australia. The fire, which the tribes controlled for thousands of years, is today thanks to techniques that are of interest to firefighters and farmers.

Elvin Toby is about to prove himself to some volunteer firefighters from the Royal Fire Service (RFS) near the village of Belvrook. In this forest, too, the fire has caused havoc. All 300 or more people in this village were evicted even for a week.

Also read: Australia burns, colas drink

A year later, the scars have almost disappeared. The field where Elvin Toby sits is surrounded by bushes and tall grass. Whatever yellow he goes for, he ignites easily. In a few minutes, the attachment of the withered grass was nothing more than a small mass of ash, which left the surrounding vegetation intact. “This controlled fire prevents the plants from growing too much without being damaged even at the peak of the summer. Only the yellow grass burned. The earth, by contrast, we grow it,” explains Elvin Toby.

In addition to the massive damage caused by the fires, the Great Barrier Reef faced its third wave of flooding in just five years.

The traditional method of Australian firefighters to start a controlled fire is actually very destructive because it pours many large liters of gasoline over very large areas. In addition to this new knowledge, which is still filtered in small quantities, firefighters can also rely on reinforced material resources. Government grants but very generous donations from the general public have made it possible to modernize some equipment.

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Brian McDonough, president of the RFS Association, believes this will be enough to tackle the next crisis. “I hope a catastrophic fire like this will happen again. But we now have many members who have the experience and know what to do in these situations.” Nothing done against overheating.

Unrestricted climate policy

Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison has half-heartedly acknowledged his involvement in the fire. Nor did they regret its unusual climate policy. It planned until very recently to achieve the goals set out under the Paris Agreement by recording carbon credits from the Kyoto Protocol (1997). Like many countries he refuses to engage in carbon neutralization by 2050, and unlike all Australian states he does not declare on behalf of the country as a whole, climate emergency.

It should be noted that the Australian economy is still largely based on its extraction industries, with its two main exports being iron and coal. According to a recent report by Climate Transparency, Australia emits three times more greenhouse gas emissions than the G20 average … but, no doubt, the government’s reluctance to green Australia.

However, the threats are very definite. In addition to the enormous damage caused by the fires, the Great Barrier Reef faced its third wave of flooding in just five years, on a larger area than the previous two. Spring 2020 is the hottest on record so far, but summer promises to be humid, affected by this phenomenon. Girl. Very safe, for now, from fire. But not flooding, or coastal erosion.

Finally read: Five years after the Paris Agreement, where is the climate war?

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Cory Weinberg

About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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