01_06_2006_Bushfire_NSW

Recently you would have seen the terrible catastrophe that wild bushfires have caused across the south eastern parts of Australia, with 200 people killed, thousands homeless, and whole communities shattered and destroyed.

Now the blame game has started so we can identify how we could have let this happen, and then, how we ensure it doesn't happen again. And international readers need to know that major bushfires are a way of life for most Australians, so 'ensuring that it doesn't happen again' is a furphy. Just like earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes, bushfires are natural occurrences and despite our best efforts, will continue to occur.

The initial reaction from most uninformed media commentators and the like is to blame greenies, incompetent Governments or public authorities, or all three.

Today I've read two articles that go to the heart of the matter, and arrive at a similar answer from differing points.

The first is a short, sharp piece from Celsias titled ‘Man With Bulldozer, Chainsaw, and Woodchipper Knows Best’.

It addresses both sides of the argument by saying, on one hand, "that protecting areas managed as National Parks, limiting logging of native forests, and giving ecosystems a chance to function at all naturally is to guarantee fiery tragedy and ensure that fire crews can’t gain access when it occurs. Basically, ‘man with bulldozer, chainsaw, and woodchip license knows best’."

This is countered by noting that "According to observations and initial reports, all fires – bar one – started in plantations, logging coupes, grasslands, and farms. Namely, areas already decimated and dehydrated by the very practices prescribed by the ignorant, remote, and spin driven parasites happy to exploit yet another fatal catastrophe."

The second piece is from Real Dirt, and given the pseudonym and depth of the article, has been written by an expert on the subject. Hazard Reduction: The Blame Game goes into some detail about the issues involved, and even discounts the commonly held belief that the Aborigines regularly burned the bush as a way of managing the land.

I invite you to check both of them out.

Given the human tragedy that is intertwined with this issue, there will be no easy solution. As a nation, we love our 'bush' and many of us choose to live right in it. Unfortunately, from time to time, nature let's us know who the master really is.

Image credit: www.firewheel.com

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