Citizen Action Monitor

Australia’s firestorms – Heartbreaking photos dare us to look away and turn back to our safe lives

“‘Distressing’ doesn’t even begin to cover the visceral emotions I feel as massive bushfires scorch through Australia” – Linda Solomon Wood

No 2570 Posted by fw, January 8, 2020

Linda Solomon Wood

“‘Distressing’ doesn’t even begin to cover the visceral emotions I feel as massive bushfires scorch through Australia, spurred on by record-breaking temperatures and severe drought and blisteringly inept political decisions. I can’t help thinking about living in proximity to British Columbia’s wildfires in 2018, the ash on my countertops, the smoke in my lungs, the worry about my children’s health. But the story in Australia has blown up to be much bigger than B.C.’s. An unfathomable half-billion wild animals have been killed by wildfires, including thousands of Australia’s koalas. Firefighters heard koalas screaming from the tops of trees while being burned alive in the woods. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes. Images like these dare us to look away and turn back to our own safe lives without mourning and grief. It is heartbreaking to read about the death of the Great Barrier Reef or adult animals abandoning their young or thousands of people huddling on a beach waiting to be rescued as behind them, flames burn their homes. Yet we cannot allow ourselves to become overwhelmed. We must demand policies that turn the tide on climate change now.”Linda Solomon Wood

Linda Solomon Wood is Editor-in-Chief, Canada’s National Observer

Below is a repost of an excerpt from an email I received yesterday from Linda Solomon Wood. It was the four heartbreaking photos she included in her message that prompted me to share this with you. I have added another three distressing photos from an article titled The photos that sum up Australia’s horrific, unprecedented bushfire crisis, by Natalie Wolfe, in News Corp Australia, January 6, 2020.

I have moved all seven photos to the beginning of my repost. The excerpted text follows.

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Distressing doesn’t describe it, by Linda Solomon Wood, in an email, January 7, 2020

Distressing doesn’t describe it

I don’t know about you, but as wonderful as it has been to have time with friends and family over the holiday, I couldn’t help thinking a lot about the tragedy in Australia, a tragedy occurring partly because of climate change.

Since the beginning of the 20th century Australia has experienced an increase of nearly 1 °C in average annual temperatures, with warming occurring at twice the rate over the past 50 years than in the previous 50 years, according to Australian scientists Steve Morton, David Lindenmayer, and Stephen Dovers.

“Distressing” doesn’t even begin to cover the visceral emotions I feel as massive bushfires scorch through Australia, spurred on by record-breaking temperatures and severe drought and blisteringly inept political decisions.

I can’t help thinking about living in proximity to British Columbia’s wildfires in 2018, the ash on my countertops, the smoke in my lungs, the worry about my children’s health.

As Umair Irfan writes on Vox:

“Australia is also deep in the throes….of the accelerating climate crisis, facing not just extreme heat but changes in rainfall patterns. These shifts in turn stand to worsen other problems like drought and wildfires. At the same time, the Australian government is struggling to limit its own contributions to climate change while appeasing its major greenhouse gas emitters, including its powerful coal mining industry.’

But the story in Australia has blown up to be much bigger than B.C.’s.

An unfathomable half-billion wild animals have been killed by wildfires, including thousands of Australia’s koalas.

Firefighters heard koalas screaming from the tops of trees while being burned alive in the woods.

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes. 

Images like these dare us to look away and turn back to our own safe lives without mourning and grief.

It is heartbreaking to read about the death of the Great Barrier Reef or adult animals abandoning their young or thousands of people huddling on a beach waiting to be rescued as behind them, flames burn their homes.  

Yet we cannot allow ourselves to become overwhelmed. We must demand policies that turn the tide on climate change now.

Tone-deaf 

People displaced by the fire along Australia’s south coast shouted at Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asking how he could stand by as citizens were dying on his watch.

What’s beyond distressing is that Morrison — who famously brought a lump of coal into Parliament to mock climate advocates — won the election last year with the backing of Rupert Murdoch’s news media empire, and even now continues to deny any link between emissions and the now-yearly wildfire disasters.

And this latest fire shows no sign of slowing down.

That’s what we mean by blisteringly inept. And this moniker isn’t limited to Australia’s politicians. Internationally, there is fragmentation and a lack of collective will to act.

This fragmentation is frightening as we watch Australia burn and recall the wildfires in our own backyards.

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