Bookmarked 1851, 1939, 1961 and 2009: Four devastating fires that offer lessons we can’t afford to forget (ABC News)

Professor Pyne says it’s important to understand the big picture.

He says many people often ask what’s driving the fires, “but fire is a driverless car”.

“It’s a reaction, it integrates everything around it. So it’s just barrelling down the road, and it may come up on a sharp curve called climate change or a tricky intersection where town and country cross or a lot of road hazards from logging debris or past land practices, and it integrates all of those,” he says.

“It’s not just one thing, there are many. And the way they come together varies, place by place. So you need a finer-grained understanding of it. But this also means that there are many points of intervention possible.”

Monique Ross and Annabelle Quince discuss how we got to today. This is interesting to read alongside Kevin Tolhurst’s reflection on 57 past bushfire reviews.
Bookmarked The End of Australia as We Know It (

Australia, she argued, must accept that the most inhabited parts of the country can no longer be trusted to stay temperate — and, she added, “that means massive changes in what we do and the rhythm of our work and play.”

More specifically, she said, the economy needs to change, not just moving away from fossil fuels, a major export, but also from thirsty crops like rice and cotton.

Building regulations will probably stiffen too, she said. Already, there are signs of growing interest in designs that offer protections from bush fires, and regulators are looking at whether commercial properties need to be made more fireproof as well.

The biggest shifts, however, may not be structural so much as cultural.

Damian Cave stops and reflects on Australia’s fire crisis to consider where to next?

Mr. Cannon-Brookes said Australia could seize the moment and become a leader in climate innovation. Ms. Wallworth, the filmmaker, echoed that sentiment: What if the country’s leaders did not run from the problem of climate change, but instead harnessed the country’s desire to act?

“If only our leaders would call on us and say, ‘Look, this is a turning point moment for us; the natural world in Australia, that’s our cathedral, and it’s burning — our land and the animals we love are being killed,’” she said.

“If they called on us to make radical change, the nation would do it.”

Bookmarked Youth group recounts ‘dystopian novel’ experience of sheltering from fire in cinema (ABC News)

Members of a youth group caught up in the Mallacoota bushfire crisis reveal the terror they faced as they sheltered from the flames — but rather than evacuating the fire-ravaged town, they’re sticking around to help the locals out.

Nicole Mills shares the story of 600 people who hid in a cinema during the bushfire chaos that threatened Mallacoota.

Eventually a generator was located and, amid the terror, there was an attempt at distraction.

“They cycled through a couple of children’s movies, there was Frozen, Happy Feet 2 — it was a very strange mix of films to keep the kids occupied,” Ms Steenholdt said.

“But I think it did wonders for adults as well, just to be able to disassociate from the situation of all of us packed on the floor of a cinema.”

Bookmarked Tales of wombat ‘heroes’ have gone viral. Unfortunately, they’re not entirely true (ABC News)

Wombats can emerge as accidental heroes during a bushfire.

Responding to stories on social media the wombats have been shepherding to hide in their borrows, Julia Banim explains that they are more accidental heroes. She discusses the research which highlights the way in which different animals share the underground network with wombats.

Researchers observed ten other species, six of which used them on multiple occasions.

The intruders ranged from rock wallabies and bettongs to skinks and birds. Little penguins were recorded using burrows 27 times, while the black-footed rock wallaby was observed using wombat burrows more often than wombats, visiting nearly 2,000 times in eight weeks.

One of the reasons for this is that wombats often move between a number of homes, therefore leaving their space for squatters.

In fact, a 2012 study tracked one wombat to 14 different burrows.

While wombats are often regarded as quite sedentary, another study found the average home range size of common wombats is 172 hectares.

Liked Rupert Murdoch’s son James criticises News Corp and Fox for climate change coverage (ABC News)

“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of News Corp and Fox’s coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple told The Daily Beast, and later confirmed the statement’s accuracy to Reuters.

“They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial of the role of climate change among the news outlets in Australia, given obvious evidence to the contrary.”

Bookmarked How Rupert Murdoch Is Influencing Australia’s Bushfire Debate (

And on Wednesday, Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp, the largest media company in Australia, was found to be part of another wave of misinformation. An independent study found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.

It’s all part of what critics see as a relentless effort led by the powerful media outlet to do what it has also done in the United States and Britain — shift blame to the left, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change.

Damian Cave discusses the roll of Rupert Murdoch and News Corp in man diverting attention away from climate change.
Bookmarked Nature Deserves Legal Rights—and the Power to Fight Back (Wired)

The idea of giving personhood to nature has been slowly gaining adherents. Environmentalists have prodded governments and courts to award rights to lakes, hills, rivers, and even individual species of plants. The New Zealand parliament has given legal rights to the Whanganui River, while Colombia has made the Páramo de Pisba region in the Andes—threatened for years by mining—a “subject of rights.” About three dozen towns across the US are passing Toledo-style bills, and the Florida Democratic Party lists the rights of nature in its party platform.

Clive Thompson suggests that with all the talk of innovation and change, maybe what we really need is to given nature legal rights.

The climate crisis is fully main stage, with California burning and Florida drowning. If we’re going to forestall worse to come, we need innovation not just in tech—more clean energy, resilient cities, genetically modified crops that need less fertilizer—but in law, the rule sets that architect our behavior.

Liked ‘Port Arthur moment’: Business urges PM to lead on climate amid bushfire crisis (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Business leaders have described the unfolding bushfire crisis as a “Port Arthur moment”, urging the Morrison government to adopt a co-ordinated national strategy to confront climate change and aggressively reduce carbon emissions.

Bookmarked I’ve studied fires for 40 years and I keep coming back to the same solution (ABC News)

We need to put some serious thought into what future life will be like under climate change, and shifting the peak holiday season to the cooler months could be the place to start.

David Bowman suggests moving peak holiday period to March or April.

Scheduling the major Australian holiday at the same time as bushfire season also makes things extremely difficult for the enterprises that depend on the holiday trade. You need certainty to run a business and timing the major annual Australian holiday period with bushfire season strips certainty away from these business owners.

This is similar to the argument made by James Purtill in regards to summer music festivals

For Lost Paradise, it had recruited a private force of 12 professional fire-fighters along with vehicles and a 10,000 litre water tanker.

But this season’s fires have proved too ferocious to handle – organisers knew that however many precautions they took, if the Gospers Mountain mega-blaze happened to come their way, they would be powerless to halt it.

Although holidays and music may not be the same in autumn, these are some of the challenges that we will need to face in adapting to a new world.

Bookmarked Australia: show the world what climate action looks like (

The Morrison government has to make a choice: does it want Australians to live with fires that are becoming worse than those in the past but which can still be managed to some extent? Or does it want to put citizens at risk of future fire conditions that are even more catastrophic than this season’s? There can be only one answer to this question if the government accepts that its first role is always to protect its citizens and its country.

The Nature reflection on the prime minister’s efforts to dodge the questions about the bushfires and questions what options we really have left.
Liked Bots and trolls spread false arson claims in Australian fires ‘disinformation campaign’ (the Guardian)

The Queensland University of Technology senior lecturer on social network analysis Dr Timothy Graham examined content published on the #arsonemergency hashtag on Twitter, assessing 1,340 tweets, 1,203 of which were unique, published by 315 accounts.

Bookmarked ABC under ‘growing’ cost pressure as bushfire emergency broadcasts surge (The Sydney Morning Herald)

The ABC’s extensive coverage of bushfires ravaging the country threatens to push the taxpayer-funded news organisation into more budget strife with emergency broadcasting events on track to double in 2020.

Jennifer Duke discusses the pressure on the ABC associated with emergency broadcast events.

“The cost of the ABC’s emergency broadcasting coverage come out of base funding – there is no specific government funding for this coverage,” the ABC spokesman said in a statement.

“These costs are growing,” he said.

“We will always prioritise coverage of emergency information and will continue to speak with government to ensure that we are adequately funded to serve the Australian public.”

Bookmarked Visual guide: how Australia’s bushfires are raging across the country (the Guardian)

Bushfires have swept large parts of Australia since October, leaving more than 20 people dead, destroying thousands of homes and devastating wildlife

Niko Kommenda and Josh Holder provide a number of visuals as context for the current Australian bushfire crisis. This includes fires detected in Australia during December, the detection of fire in Australia’s south east over time, the unprecedented levels of pollution in Canberra, and Australia’s average temperature over time.
Liked Child steering family to safety becomes face of Australia’s bushfire crisis (ABC News)

Allison Marion took the photo of her son Finn driving a power boat to safety after the sky in the far-east Victorian seaside town turned blazing red on Tuesday.

The striking image of Finn showed him steering the boat as it carried Allison, her other son Caleb and the family dog, away from the shore of the popular holiday spot to shelter on Goodwin Sands.

Bookmarked Don’t dismiss our anger in Cobargo Scott Morrison, we are the ones living through a crisis | Zena Armstrong and Peter Logue (the Guardian)

The people who stood up to the prime minister in our community are saying what a lot of us are feeling

Zena Armstrong, a Cobago local, pushes back on the response that Morrison’s treatment in the town was merely a reflection of people still feeling raw. Although there is nothing stopping the fires from being lit, the government could have done a lot more to mitigate the destruction.

Imagine if that meeting had gone ahead and the fire chiefs’ recommendations for money to lease large firefighting aircraft had been granted; if a stocktake of firefighting needs had been undertaken and the funds provided to provide the necessary equipment well ahead of the fire season; if a nationwide effort to audit vulnerable townships and regions, resource and help people prepare them better to face bushfires had been conducted; if communities had been encouraged to develop their support responses earlier; if more redundancy was built in to the telephone and internet networks.

Liked Opinion | Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide (

More than one-third of Australians are estimated to be affected by the fires. By a significant and increasing majority, Australians want action on climate change, and they are now asking questions about the growing gap between the Morrison government’s ideological fantasies and the reality of a dried-out, rapidly heating, burning Australia.

The situation is eerily reminiscent of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, when the ruling apparatchiks were all-powerful but losing the fundamental, moral legitimacy to govern. In Australia today, a political establishment, grown sclerotic and demented on its own fantasies, is facing a monstrous reality which it has neither the ability nor the will to confront.

Bookmarked Australia’s Angry Summer: This Is What Climate Change Looks Like (Scientific American Blog Network)

The angry summer playing out in Australia right now was predictable. The scientific evidence is well known for how anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are causing long-term climate change and altering climate variability in ways that increase our fire risk. The role of climate change in the unprecedented fires gripping Australia is also well understood by our emergency services. Sadly, though, this summer has occurred against a backdrop in which the Australian government has argued, on the world stage, to scale back our greenhouse-gas-emissions-reduction targets. Our leaders are literally fiddling while the country burns.

Nerilie Abram provides some context to the weather conditions that have produced the current bushfire crisis in Australia.

Australia is the most fire prone of all of Earth’s continents. But what has made its latest fire season so extreme? Wildfires need four ingredients: available fuel, dryness of that fuel, weather conditions that aid the rapid spread of fire and an ignition. Climate change is making Australian wildfires larger and more frequent because of its effects on dryness and fire weather.

This includes the reduction in rainfall over time, the three winters where the rains have failed to come and the positive trend in the Southern Annular Mode (SAM).

Umair Irfan also unpacks these variables for Vox, touching on both the Southern Annular Mode and the Indian Ocean Dipole.