bushfires

Record wildfires in the San Francisco Bay Area have rapidly erupted amid a scorching heat wave – and they are still growing, writes Barry Sheppard.

Bob McIlroy is a small farmer in the Bonang region of East Gippsland, Victoria, with 30 years' experience with the local Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA). He spoke to Green Left about the experience of the giant bushfires and what needs to be done.

The sheer scale of the recent bushfires and their timing (during the summer school holidays) have had a crippling impact on many working people, including small business owners, and put the ongoing sustainability of rural communities at serious risk, writes Graham Matthews.

Climate scientists and other observers often refer to various regions, such as the Arctic, low-lying islands, the Andes and Bangladesh, inhabited by Indigenous and peasant peoples as the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to the adverse impacts of anthropogenic climate change. But Australia is shaping up as one the canaries, writes Hans Baer.

The latest fire emergency in four states has rammed home the meaning of the words “catastrophic climate change” in the minds of most people in Australia. Most now realise that this is a climate emergency and our society should mobilise all its resources to address it.

Looking out my office window in early January, the smoke haze blanketing Melbourne CBD blocked all sight of the city. It made visibility on the roads a problem and venturing outside a dangerous activity.

The small New South Wales town of Cobargo was devastated by bushfires around New Year's Day.

David Mcevoy, an environment and LGBTI activist, was visiting a friend in Cobargo, NSW, on New Year’s Eve when the catastrophic bushfires hit the historic town. Green Left’s Rachel Evans talked to him about his escape from the firestorm and the community’s resilience.

News that the Austrian Greens with the hard-right People’s Party to form a coalition government should be a wake-up call to progressives everywhere.

As the bushfire emergency drags on, with large parts of the country devastated, unions are demanding the government provide greater support for the firefighters, more assistance to the affected communities and to confront the climate change reality.

There are two positive things to come out of the horrific bushfire crisis ripping through our country: recognition of the connection between global warming and more frequent and intense bush fires; and the inspiring courage and generosity of volunteers and emergency service personnel to protect their communities, despite being hugely under-resourced.

Around 100 people formed a circle at the Queen Victoria Building on January 5 to call for urgent government intervention on the fire emergency, support for the firefighters, and real action to combat climate change. The vigil was organised by Extinction Rebellion Sydney.

East Gippsland is one region among many affected by disastrous bushfires. Three quarters of it — stretching about 250 km from west to east and 150 km from south to north — has been burned as I write this: about 700,000 hectares.

As the catastrophic fires raged over several states from late December into early January, Green Left’s Pip Hinman asked Shaun McDonald, a professional firefighter currently based in Tasmania about his views. McDonald has been a firefighter for 13 years, fighting fires in three states and territories, including recently being deployed to NSW.

The horror of the devastating and apocalyptic fires in NSW and Victoria not only dampened the New Year party mood, it has fanned anger over the government's obvious failure to respond to the climate emergency.

United Firefighters Union national secretary Greg McConville

United Firefighters Union ACT branch secretary and national president Greg McConville, together with representatives of the local Indigenous community, Farmers for Climate Action and The Greens, addressed the “Our federal government fiddles while Australia burns: Let’s put the heat under them” event outside federal parliament in Canberra on November 25. This is what he had to say.

Throughout the intense wildfires that gripped California since July, the media barely mentioned their underlying cause — climate change and energy company profiteering, writes Barry Sheppard.

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