scott morrison bushfire
(Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

THE FIRE THIS TIME

What can one say about the catastrophe this summer? There are literally no words to adequately describe or discuss the enormous human cost in fatalities, destroyed homes and wrecked lives, the nausea-inducing toll on wildlife, the economic damage, the frightening impact on our landscape — and the exposure of a governing class that has comprehensively failed to do its job for Australians.

What’s particularly depressing is that I can’t see change in Australia’s criminal climate negligence while fossil fuel interests and their supporters continue to exploit a political system that is best described as pervasive soft corruption and self-interested secrecy. The only good news is that, very slowly, global investors appear to be shutting off the supply of money to the most polluting industries, but Australia will be a landscape of charcoal before that has any significant impact on climate.

Anyway, on that happy note: there’s plenty of information on bushfires and bushfire preparation and management, argues Kate Galloway. The only area a royal commission could profitably examine is making governance more effective. Academic Philip Zylstra demolishes claims about fuel-reduction burning and Indigenous land management. Apart from the colossal human and economic cost of the fires, they’ve also inflicted a huge toll on research, including some major projects that may never be able to proceed, as well as devastating conservation efforts.

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