Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

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George the original one
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Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by George the original one »

Hoping no members are being directly affected. Would sure like to hear from the Australian members.

Solvent
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by Solvent »

It's a tragedy. It's stunning in the scale of the disaster. Where I am (visiting family for holidays, not usually resident these days) I've not been directly affected. The exception was being worried at 3am one morning when I woke to the thick smell of smoke - but it was the smoke from the Kangaroo Island fire coming through on the wind. That's maybe 150km (100 miles or so) away.
A close friend of mine had to evacuate and the fire stopped literal metres from his house.

But what can you say? Of course the country sees fires every year, but the sheer number of them raging simultaneously, and this early in the season, is unprecedented. Longer hotter summers and less reliable rainfall are going to be our future, so disasters like this are higher probability now. Well, I guess the fuel load will be lower for a few years in the affected regions.

ffj
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by ffj »

I visited Australia in March of last year and got to meet some of the rural fire service members in NSW. Great bunch of guys that treated me like gold.

They told me about the 2009 fires that destroyed 200 plus homes but this go around seems much worse. You could see the fire damage on the trees in the forest still after 10 years. I often think about those guys and what their lives are like at the moment.

jacob
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by jacob »

I know a professor (my age) who lives in a Sydney suburb. He told me about experiencing itchy eyes and sore throat from the smoke every few days sometimes waking up from the symptoms. Also +1 to the "wildfires are normal here but nothing like this scale and intensity"-comment.

Sydney AQIs have been reported north of 2000(*). Cf. Chicago air quality right now at 57(**) and some of the most polluted industrial cities in China and India at around 600. The total current area burned is ~107000km^2 which measures roughly 1 Tennessee or 4+ Vermonts. Total CO2 released from this wildfire season in AU so far is 0.4GtCO2 which adds about 1% on top of the normal human global emissions per year.

(*) This is like smoking 100 cigarettes per day.
(**) Which kinda stinks if you're not used to it/noseblind.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Has the US been able to provide any firefighters since it is not our fire season right now?

chenda
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by chenda »

It has been suggested this may change the attitude towards climate change in Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter and has, perhaps not coincidentally, a strong culture of climate change denial. 'Woke greenies' said the deputy PM a few weeks ago. We shall see.

George the original one
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by George the original one »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:35 am
Has the US been able to provide any firefighters since it is not our fire season right now?
I know Oregon firefighters have gone there. It is probably a drop in the bucket of how many are needed.

Solvent
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by Solvent »

It's pretty much impossible to use this event as an argument for better action towards climate change, though. There are a ton of reasons to address climate change, but there's almost no way to bring these fires forward in any political discussion of the matter. Because there's no particular climate action the country could have taken that would have had a measurable effect on the current disaster. This is terribly frustrating, but perhaps the events will have a broad effect on grassroots opinion.

Also, the effect on wildlife is worrying. It may not be known until much later, but there are probably species that might not recover from the loss of population and habitat in these fires.

niemand
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by niemand »

Just wanted to share my experience: A few days ago, a bushfire started 500 meters from our house. Embers flew over the housing precinct and lit a grass fire about 1 km away. The two fires then combined and quickly grew to 50 hectares in size.

At this point the emergency app on my phone notified us to evacuate. We left and took refuge at a friend’s place closer to the city. It's a strange feeling when you don't know if you can go back to your house or if you will have a house left to go back to.

30 fire trucks and three skycranes were deployed over a few days to get the fire under control. They threw a lot of resources at this fire because we're less than 20km from the city centre. Luckily the wind was on our side and blew the fire away from us and towards the parklands.

We have since returned home and thank goodness the house is undamaged. Everything is very dirty with ash. Air quality is poor, hazardous with AQI of 500 at its worst.

Eight houses in our area took fire damage and a playground burned out. No people harmed. A lot of trees and wildlife lost though. Homeless kangaroos hopping in the streets. Last time something similar happened in this area was more than 10 years ago, before I even moved to Australia. Fire season is a real thing here, but I hadn't experienced it myself directly before. This year, fire season started early and ferociously.

When we evacuated, we did not pack very well. I'll have to think about a suitable bug out kit, just in case. A car may be important as an escape vehicle.

Right now it's still an eerie feeling, being on yellow alert, with a fire (that's under control) still smoking and smouldering 500 meters away from us, knowing we could be notified to evacuate at any time. Not conducive to good sleep.

The optimist in me hopes that this was it for us now. What’s burned is burned and hopefully won’t burn again. You never know.

chenda
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Re: Any Australians care to comment about the fires?

Post by chenda »

@niemand - thanks for sharing, glad you're ok...

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