Hell on Earth

I really wanted to write something about the fires in Australia.

But there are no words.

There is extreme frustration – now can we accept that climate change is a thing and we really really need to do something about it?

There is extreme sadness, for the loss of life, and homes, and livelihoods, and the trauma that people are suffering.

There is extreme sadness for the deaths of so many animals – either as a direct result of the fire, or from the loss of their habitat.

There is a deep, deep realisation that the country of Australia will never be the same again.

There is concern – my step-daughter is over there, but she’s in Perth, which is a long way from the major fires.

There’s more concern – for people I know, even if only as friends of friends, who live on the east coast.

But there are no words.

I’ve been privileged to visit Western Australia three times in the last five years – first to visit my step-daughter who had gone over there for six months and was still there four years later. She and her man got engaged while we were there – so of course we had to go back the following year for the wedding. And as night follows day, we went to meet our new grandchild the year after that.

During those visits, I spent time in Perth, but also some time in Sydney, some time in the far south west, and I drove up to Shark Bay towards the north west of WA. A lot of my relatives are buried near Wiseman’s Ferry, just north of Sydney. So what’s happening over there is bothering me greatly.

I think in the UK we struggle to understand the size of a country like Australia. It takes four hours to fly from Perth to Sydney. If you flew for four hours from London you’d get to Moscow. Huge areas of the east coast of Australia are burning, right now. One fire, one single fire, is burning an area the same size as Manhattan. Some of the fires are so huge that the smoke is forming clouds which are producing their own weather systems – resulting in lightning, which is causing more fires. It’s like the end of the world – for the people caught in it, it is the end of their world.

Most of all there is an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. Sending thoughts and prayers just doesn’t cut it – particularly for an atheist like me.

Forget the praying. Let’s concentrate on the thoughts. Maybe it does help to know that people across the world are thinking about you. Maybe it would help more to know that they were thinking about how to make sure it doesn’t happen again – not in Australia, not in Siberia, not in the Amazon, not in California. Not anywhere. I think that’s what we have to do now, to assuage our own feelings of helplessness. We have to look at the bigger picture. The global picture. And do something.

Just popping back to say – if you wish, please donate to https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery. Very many thanks.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. graham s. says:

    It’s very true what you say about the terrible conditions in Australia right now with the bush fires. “Hell on Earth” is right. It’s good that you help spread the word about what is happening here. I’m in Augusta, 300 kms south of Perth, where (as you mentioned) we are lucky enough not to be affected by fire now. But it’s always a threat. Btw I am Jane Fielder’s brother. You met my wife Wendy once, and our daughter Helen who recently stayed with Jane. Love the blog! Happy New Year!

    Like

    1. Hi Graham, great to hear from you!! We did a triangular road trip on our first visit to Oz, from Perth down the west coast to Augusta, along the south coast as far as Esperance, then straight back to Perth diagonally across country. There was a fire near Esperance just the day after we left. Really pleased you like the blog. Stay safe. S

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  2. SisterStay says:

    As an Australian myself with all my family still back home (on the east coast), it has been absolutely shocking and heartbreaking to watch the fires unfold. My sister in Canberra recently sent me a photo of her and her husband and friend all wearing facemasks because the air quality was so bad. The aircon wasn’t working and they couldn’t open their windows because of the smoke even though the temperature was 42.9 degrees Celcius. They all have grab bags ready to go should it become necessary. Most asthmatics and people with children who could leave have already left, although Qantas had stopped flying when we spoke. Canberra really is “the bush capital” so it’s very worrying. The pyrocumulonimbus clouds and dry thunder storms are like something from another world.

    I’m sure climate change is a big factor in all this, but we also need to adjust the way we live. Australia needs to reinstate routine winter burn-offs in the same way the UK needs to reintroduce routine waterway clearance and drainage checks. We need to be careful where we build our houses too – not too close to woodland and not on flood plains.

    My greatest admiration and thanks goes to all the brave and amazing firefighters – including all the volunteers from at home and abroad – who are risking their lives every day to help others. Absolute heroes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s unimaginable what is happening. I think we’re only just beginning to realise what the long-term effects of this will be. 42 degrees – I wash my clothes at less than that!!!

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  3. anglosvizzera says:

    Sisterstay – I agree that we all have to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change and not ‘cut back’ to save money, when in the long term it’s not cost-effective. My view is that even if we all stop doing what we are told is driving climate change, it’s not actually going to change it, maybe just the rate at which it’s happening, but preparing for it is far more important.

    I hope your family aren’t seriously affected by the fires – I have some friends out there on the east coast who seem totally clear of any fires, posting photos of themselves enjoying Christmas on the beach (no smoke in sight!) and the fireworks at New Year in Sydney. You’d never know there was anything amiss…

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    1. Australia is such an enormous country – but nevertheless, everyone is going to be affected one way or another, even if the fires weren’t in their own back yard. So sad.

      Like

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