“We are in a new place. We just have to accept that we’ve crossed a threshold I suspect. This is what climate change looks like” – Professor David Bowman, Environmental Change Biologist, UTAS.
Strewwwwwth. Every now and then I read something that makes my heart drop, my sphincters loosen and my whining, first-world-fixated trap shut the fuck up. This quote comes from a Guardian report into the bushfires that are raging in Tasmania’s North West right now; fires that are devastating copses of ancient (1000 year old) trees in World Heritage Areas. I mean these places are seriously precious; they don’t hand out World Heritage status willy-nilly. There are unique, irreplaceable ecosystems up there that sustain rare wildlife and plant life (some people say there are Tassie Tigers in them-there hills). And there are important indigenous cultural sites; the sort of landscape that the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s Ruth Langford says, “teaches us who we are” .
To be honest, my first reaction to news of these fires (first reported around the 14th January, still burning today) was, “phew, at least there aren’t too many people at risk” and it wasn’t until I took the time to read about this catastrophe that the extent of the tragedy smacked me in the chops. A timely reminder to cherish the shit out of our environment and reaaallllly try to slow the negative effects that the human plague is having on our planet.
I know you’ve heard it all before and you already wash out your coconut milk tins and pop them in the recycling. But maybe you’ve let a few things slide lately? Maybe the holidays have relaxed your composting and slackened your pushbiking. Maybe the late nights have left too many lights on. Maybe you need a fucking great big firey reminder to PULL YOUR FINGER OUT (I’m yelling at myself here, don’t take offence).
Three years ago we lost our local school – along with much of our nearest town – in the January 4 bushfires. That was a terrible thing. People lost irreplaceable stuff. Some people will never rebuild or return. Widlife and bushland and farmland was lost. It was catastrophic, but I would hesitate before I would call it a tragedy. Perhaps that’s easy for me to say from my relative distance from the town, but from what I have read, eucalypt forests use fire to regenerate, but the Tarkine trees – native conifers and native beech for instance – grow in wetter areas because once they burn, they are gone forever. Dunalley’s native forests are eucalyptus; they have seen fire before and they will see it again. Their regrowth is slow, but I see new greenery every day. The tarkine’s magical pockets of rainforest will be gone forever. After staying safe from fire for centuries, gone forever.
As I write this, the Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) website reports that the fires around Mawbanna and the Pipeline Road and parts of the Tarkine are still burning. So are fires around Cradle Mountain, Mt Pelion, Liffey, Arthur River, Lake Mackenzie Temma etc etc. All pretty (very) special bits of our State (that’s not to say that all of it is special but you know, we’re not talking wasteland here).
So anyway, our blessed fire fighters are up there doing their thing and risking their lives (apparently the smoke is so fucking thick up there it’s hard to see; some have been treated for smoke inhalation – please look after yourselves you lot, we need you), and the weather’s been windy and unhelpful, the rain not enough. Meantime, back in the cheap seats where we’ve been having a wow of a time in the sun and the amazingly mild waters of the sea (the mildest Tasmanian waters I can remember) and chucking our emtpties into landfill along with a load of broken plastic toys from Christmas (I won’t rant about that again), is this enough for us to change? Is this evidence enough? It might yet be too late but that’s no reason to go back to nasty earth-destroying habits (I’m lecturing myself here – I stopped buying environmentally friendly loo cleaner because it didn’t seem to keep the s-bends clean for long. Well too bad. I’ll just have to scrub the skiddies more often and suck it up. Not the skiddies of course, or the loo cleaner).
And we should maybe stop being surprised by the weird weather patterns (a la – “don’t know what’s going on with the weather lately; fires one minute, flood the next, no fish biting, I mean what the fuck Huey?”) and start having a good hard look at ourselves. ANOTHER good hard look. We/I need them frequently; hard looks.
It’s too late for some of those ancient statesman trees but what else – aside from the obvious – can we do to help stop this happening again? Here are a few ideas to chuck into your new year’s revolutions:
- Check out and donate to The Seed Bank. Evidently these super people collected a heap of seeds from the very trees that are burning right now and are optimistic about replanting. While it will be slow and not quite the same as having those old beauties back, it’s hope in seed form.
- Walk or ride to work for fucksake. And lose some of that flab that’s choking up the health system while you’re at it. (Sorry, I’m cross).
- Wash in cold water – tests prove that washing in cold is just as good as washing in hot. And use sustainable, plant friendly washing liquids/powders.
- Eat locally grown, unprocessed foods. Food processing emits a shit load of carbon. So join the home grown movement. And eat mostly plants, always a good rule of thumb.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. We can’t say it enough. Upcycle too. I have a lovely dress made out of curtains. Well I like it.
- Follow and support the David Suzuki Foundation. They are my best source of the latest info and are full of helpful ideas. For instance, reduce wastage by creating an ‘eat me first’ container in your fridge. Label it clearly and ensure the family uses it.
I know I’m teaching most of you to suck eggs, but I’m just reminding you that it’s not mother nature cursing us, it’s us cursing mother nature.
POST SCRIPT: As I finish off this post, the Easterly rain has set in right over me, right over our farm and our cows and our parched, drought-struck, bare earth. And I am so very grateful, and willing it to spread all over the state, especially over those bastard fires.
Categories: Bonnet Bees
Tags: bush fires, climate change, drought, fire fighters, fires, sustainability. ancient forests, Tasmanian bushfires, world heritage
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