In the Guardian, an update on the truly terrible bushfires sweeping Victoria:
The death toll from the deadliest bushfires in Australia‘s history could reach into the hundreds as the devastation is uncovered in the burning and blackened ruins of towns, the authorities warned last night.
Described as “hell on earth”, the fires left at least 108 dead, but police in Victoria said the final death toll would be much greater.
“I think it [the body count] will be up into the 100s … 200,” acting Sergeant Scott Melville, who has the job of dragging bodies out of charred vehicles and homes, told the Melbourne Age. “It’s like a friggin’ war zone up here, it’s like a movie scene.”
The army has been called in to help the thousands of exhausted firefighters who, for the third consecutive day, will try to put out 26 fires threatening suburbs near Melbourne.
Fifty fires were also raging across New South Wales, where temperatures reached 46C (115F) yesterday.
I don’t think anyone could say categorically, “This is the result of climate change.” But I’m not sure many would disagree with the notion that this kind of thing will happen more and more as temperatures rise.
In Leeds, where my family lives, it’s been snowing for a week–incredibly unusual. I suspect soon, though, it will be quite usual. I’m more glad, every day, for that night in Atlanta almost exactly fourteen years ago when I woke Kelley at two o’clock in the morning and said, “We’re moving!” and waved an atlas at her. Bless her, she rubbed her eyes and said, “What, now?” and I said, “No. But as soon as we’ve sold this house.” She yawned, said womanfully, “Where?” and I said “The Pacific Northwest. Portland, or Seattle, or Bellingham. I don’t care.”
The next morning I laid it all out for her sensibly–geophysical and sociopolitical climate, natural resources, chocolate, beer, coffee–and she said, Well, what the fuck, let’s do it! So we did. I sorts of forgot to consider the earthquakes, though…
11 thoughts on “Australian bush fires”
Or the volcanoes! :)
One of the reasons that we’re staying put in western PA is the plentiful water and decent growing season. We also have beer, which, as Ben Franklin said, is proof that God loves us.
If safety’s the goal, who better to ask than the insurance industry?>>< HREF="http://news.opb.org/article/corvallis-safest-city-according-insurance-company-report/" REL="nofollow">Corvallis, OR is safest city<>>>But I’m biased, because I live there.>>I think Seattle’s close enough for government work. And you have ferry boats! All we have is a mucky, polluted river that produces the occasional seven-legged frog.
I’ve discovered that the NE isn’t so bad. We have 4 definable seasons, never gets too hot, and the earthquakes we do have are itty bitty and rarely occur at all.>>I still miss the PNW, but this is the next best thing, IMHO.
As I think I’ve said before, I live in Wisconsin. The winters are challenging, but there is plenty of water and a lot of greenery. I moved from the lovely high desert, which I miss, but it looks like moving was a good idea.
Those fires and the devastation — the deaths are horribly tragic. While no one can say they are all from climate change (I read that some of them are likely arson), certainly it must be a partial result and something we can anticipate happening more and more frequently all over.>>I am glad too for your excellent choice those years ago in moving to Seattle. >>But I am still curious about what you think about the rising sea levels in relation to Seattle. You didn’t answer me when I asked in a previous comment. Even if a lot of Seattle is protected by elevation and a sea wall, areas close to it are not. And sea water moving inland will < HREF="http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003804642_sealevelrise25m.html" REL="nofollow">screw up the system<> and kill stuff. Not to mention the threat from < HREF="http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/302204_warming02.html" REL="nofollow">increased storm activity<> and flooding.>>Lots of people will be displaced and need somewhere to go. It may turn out to be < HREF="http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/370009_canada09.html" REL="nofollow">Canada<> is the best place.>>In any case, we are all fucked to some degree.
<>maura<>, or the volcanoes, sigh.>><>jennifer from p<>, and how are the West Nile-carrying skeeters in summer? Or, hmmn, no I’m probably confusing where you are with the sub-tropical Philadelphia. >><>Stacy<>, yep, but one of my criteria was a population critical mass. In that sense, Corvallis didn’t hack it. Also, way too hot in the summer. But I’m glad you like it :)>><>janine<>, I’ve seen your photos of the snow! I don’t think I could cope.>><>barbara<>, I love Wisconsin in the spring–soft, bursting with life, so many birds–but I’m pretty I’d be useless there in the summer and the winter. But, hey, water is good…>><>jennifer<>, well, if I answered every question I’d be on this blog ten hours a day. Flooding: not big of a problem, IMO, in Seattle proper. Sea level rising: gradual, and then a game of which species adapt and which don’t. No one knows. But rising sea levels is something I’m used to. I grew up in the UK whose coastline was/is constantly being rearranged.
The bushfires have us all in low-level shock here in Melbourne. But the localised nature of a bushfire disaster gives a weird feeling to it. In the hills, people’s lives are shattered and destroyed and places we all love and remember fondly are gone. We’re all donating what we can, and local news is full of heroism and horror but everywhere else in Melbourne, life is strangely normal. We still go to work, go home, go to dinner. It’s very different from a hurricane or an earthquake… or a volcano.
Another thing to remember about rising sea levels is that the Atlantic is expected to rise faster than the Pacific…so Seattle will be feeling the effects a decade or two later than the east coast. (As will P.T., I sincerely hope!) ;->>>–P.
I live in S. Central Texas. I took a day trip Saturday to “mini-ranch” my brother has purchased. I used to spend my summers in the area as a child, hiking, riding horses, exploring…>>I have never ever seen it so dry that scrub cactus are turning brown! Although the day was sunny and sky blue, the wind was howling and I thought if the brush caught fire we were in dire trouble. Would have no place, as the Aussies, to escape it. >>I do not know how wildlife is surviving. I saw cactus that had been nibbled on but left on the ground. There probably is no moisture content anymore. The watering hole is dry and dusty. My brother found water and has drilled a well with a plan to build two stock tanks.>>I went down the highway to a river crossing that used to be a spot of beautiful centuries old pecan trees. They are gone. The flood of 1998 took them away. The river is flowing but not as it should be and has contracted leaving more banks of rock. Still a beautiful spot but so changed by nature-and man. There was trash tossed along the road and in the river.>>My own yard is so dry that rocks are coming up from the ground. We are having the worst drought since 1950. We get our drinking water from the Edwards Aquifer-which the builders are putting more and more homes over an area that could impact the very water we drink with run off from over fertilized yards and animal waste. Profit outweighs foresight.>>I plan on putting in more native plants, my own vegetable garden with a drip watering system, and I have never used anything but organic fertilizer and natural mulch. I keep watering pans out for the wildlife that pass through.>>I am older than most of you. If younger, I would do as Nicola did and get the heck out of dodge now. So, I will do what I can do in my spot on the planet.>>If you go to our picture sight. I have a couple of shots from my trip. I will go back and post the cactus.
West Nile isn’t too big of an issue here. The massive swarms of bats usually gobble up the pesky skeeters. Well, the nonrabid bats.>Have I mentioned that I have a rabies phobia?
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