You may well ask why a photograph of a cute kitten as the cover photograph on a story which obviously is not about cats?
The answer to that question is that I can not bear to view any more pictures of incinerated koalas, kangaroos and other animals. Instead I have chosen to insert photographs of happy, healthy pets in this story.
It is important to know what is going on in the world. Particularly in the part of the world in which one lives. I am a born and bred Aussie, and I love this country. Listening to radio broadcasts, watching television news programs and reading newspapers are effective ways of being kept informed of what is happening, and, I do all three.
Day after day of devastation; the death toll of humans, animals, beneficial insects and plants increasing on a daily basis is all a bit too much. Watching the news on more than one occasion in recent weeks has caused tears to well up in my eyes.
This is not normal behaviour for me. Prior to recent weeks I can not remember any occasion when I have cried from watching a news event or even a sad movie. I am feeling overwhelmed, and I know I am not the only one feeling this way.
Apart from the smoke haze, which has no been around for months, I have not been directly affected by the fires. The fires have not been responsible for me to:
• Lose someone, or an animal, I loved.
• Have my property burnt to the ground.
• Destroy my other possessions or my business.
But, these things have happened to countless people already in Australia, and the fires continue to burn. It has been estimated that they will continue burning for weeks, if not months to come.
Emotional turmoil is associated with these wild fires across the country. Emotions ranging from sadness, to anger, to frustration, to helplessness and to apprehension.
How many more millions of acres will be burnt? The current estimate is about fifteen million. That is ten times the area of the California fires over the last two years.
How many more species of animals and plants will be wiped out from the fires? Australia already has the dubious record of having more species of mammals become extinct than any other country. It has been estimated that these fires have already wiped out entire species of plants and animals. It will be quite some years before we know the full extent of this loss.
What about insect loss? Yes, the lowly insect! Our empathy tends to be with the loss of the higher order mammals such as the koala. And, koalas are endangered. The current fires have already destroyed about one third of the already dwindled existing population. But, back to the insects. These little six legged guys, although viewed as a nuisance by some, are an important part of our ecosystem. Around eighty percent of our trees and many of our food crops rely on insects for pollination. They are an important part of the food chain for birds, fish and mammals and even humans. And, lists of reasons of the importance of insects could go on and on.
Personally, I have an interest in Australian native bees. Most species of these colonies of social bees, live along the east coast of Australia, in the areas where bush fires have destroyed millions of acres. How many millions of these hives have been incinerated?
Anger is one of the emotional states I have been going through. One of the things with which I have been angry is the slow response from our government at this time of crisis. Months after being warned by experts in the field of the looming danger to the country of potential fires, our Prime Minister has finally reacted with some positive leadership decisions. Among these was his announcement that three thousand army reservists would be deployed to help fight the fires.
These horrific fires have affected every state in Australia. But, the Australian state which has received the most devastation from these fires is New South Wales. The Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner for New South Wales is Shane Fitzsimmons. This guy has been working his but off for weeks. When he is interviewed on television, the tiredness, or is it sadness, shows in his eyes. On the subject of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement about the aid to be given from the Federal government, a quote from the RFS Commissioner says it all; “It was disappointing and some surprise to hear about these things through public announcements”.
The PM’s announcements remind me of the leader of another country who publicly Tweets his decisions before letting other important personnel know.
What the Federal government plans to do about the fires was also made into a marketing exercise for the party. A political advertisement on TV complete with a jingle. All this has come after the Prime Minister has been saying for weeks that the fires are State government responsibilities not Federal government.
Another emotional state through which I have been going is sadness. And, my sadness and anger often merge together.
I am sad/angry that:
• That governments and all of us do not do a lot more towards sustainability.
• That so many people seem to care more about material possessions than the environment.
• My grand-children and their offspring will not have the same natural beauty of rain forests and clear, pollution free, blue skies that I have enjoyed throughout my lifetime.
However I am pleased that:
• So many people pull together in communities that are in crisis situations in Australia, with free accommodation, showers, food etc., being offered.
• Worldwide, so many prominent people have donated generously to Australian bushfire appeals.
• In addition to cash donations, communities all over Australia are setting up drop off centres for people to donate food, toilet paper, tooth brushes and other essentials to be trucked to the crisis centres.
Perhaps my faith in humanity is somewhat restored.
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