Thursday, January 2, 2020

How Do We Sleep When Our World Is Burning?

The images out of Australia are horrific, as Tengrain and the Doktor Zoom have described. The conditions are hellish, a combination of drought, heatwave, and, now, wildfires. To compound matters, right-wing politicians in Australia have long been involved in climate change denial.

The extent of the wildfires is staggering, with smoke reaching New Zealand, and soot staining the country's glaciers. One factor in the vastness of the territory in flames is the nature of eucalyptus trees, which are basically botanical tinderboxes- the trees are laden with volatile oils which foster fires that clear the forest undergrowth, leaving a burned-over district in which the fire-activated eucalyptus seeds can germinate, allowing the fast-growing trees to grow with little competition. Wildfires have always been a normal factor in ecosystems, and in the case of Australia, the aboriginal peoples used controlled burns to regulate the environment in their favor, to the extent that early European explorers described the land as 'parklike'. The current out-of-control fires are due to the drought, the forces which once worked to sustain the Australian biomes, including fires, are now out of balance. As if the situation on the land isn't bad enough, the kelp forests of Australia are dying.

I sure hope that the hellish images out of Australia act as a belated wake-up call to the world, though I imagine that the usual suspects in the media will obscure, as if with a smokescreen, the role of climate change. The post title was adapted from the 1987 song Beds Are Burning by Australia band Midnight Oil, a band which always promulgated environmental and social justice issues, and was led by big, bad, bald frontman Peter Garrett, who went on to a long career as a progressive politician. The song is required listening:

I always note that we are not destroying THE planet, but we are destroying OUR planet... there are organisms which thrive under conditions which would end us quickly, these organisms will survive pretty much anything we can throw at them. That being said, we are taking down a lot of really charming species with us.


Allan S said...

While we are focusing on the burning of Australia and the Amazon rain forests we neglect the African continent. The link is CNN, but there are dozens to choose from;

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Even here in North America, we've lost almost half of our bird population. Nowhere on Earth is untouched.