We’ve just watched the documentary Burning on the Black Summer bushfires in Australia. It was a terrible reminder of what we saw in person and in the media in the summer of 2019–2020 — Black Summer.
We were in Australia on holiday with friends in mid-November 2019 and spent some time in Leura in the Blue Mountains. On one of the days (12 November 2019), as we were walking between the villages of Katoomba and Leura, a fire started in the huge gully below the towns and spread up the hill towards the road we were walking along. It had been coming all day, starting with a bit of smoke in the distance, and ending with the villages smothered in smoke and flames at the side of the road. It was pretty scary because we were not used to fires like this. The large white cockatoos came out of the trees and perched on the roofs of the houses and garden fences.
Later, after we’d got back to New Zealand, we were in Auckland around New Year when the smoke blew across the Tasman Sea and turned the sky orange brown. By that time they had lockdowns in Sydney — shops were closed and people were told to stay home. In total, 54 million hectares of bush burned and an estimated three billion animals were killed by the fires. That was twenty one per cent of the forest cover burnt, including ancient rainforest that had never had fires because it was too cold and wet in them. The bush-filled gully we had walked through on our holiday in the Blue Mountains was completely burnt out.
What was annoying about the coverage was the disgusting propagandising by the likes of the commentators on the Murdock media. The short clips of them talking — I had forgotten about the lies they told about the fires being started by arsonists and not the result of the drought — got my goat. They are a pack of lying shills for the people and companies that have pushed the use of fossil fuels like coal and gas, and denied the reality of climate change, backed by the Morrison government. They might be on the worng side of history, but they have the real power at the moment.
Not that our government is much better. It talks a better game than the Australian government but doesn’t do much more than it does.
It’s hard not to be depressed by the whole thing.