THE drying out of southern Australia associated with global warming is causing "catastrophic" bushfires. Now, our 'fire season' has extended to cover most of the year. Even if rainfall is average in any single year, higher evaporation associated with higher temperatures will dry out bushland, and increase fire risk.
Black Saturday fires in Victoria, in 2009, were our first real taste of catastrophic bushfires. I believe that this summer, and in future years, catastrophic fires will become the new norm in southern Australia.
Catastrophic fires cannot be fought safely. Typically, catastrophic fires are "running crown fires" where heated gas from the eucalyptus oil in the crowns of trees, literally explodes into flame ahead of the main fire. With strong winds, these fires 'spot' well ahead of the main fire front. Lighting strikes, associated with their dry firestorms also create spot fires. In these circumstances, creating a firebreak ahead of the fire or backburning, in the absence of wind change, is not an option. All of this imperils the lives of firefighters who stay and fight.
Often because residents delay their evacuation, and the fire front is moving so quickly, catastrophic fires cannot be outrun, even in a car.
In future, bushfire-exposed properties will be uninsurable. Even if the owners could insure them, many of them won't be around to collect after a fire.
While we may need to surrender our property and animals to catastrophic bushfires, we do not need to surrender our lives.
To protect residents, every fire-exposed property should be required by law, to have a fire-proof safety bunker that meets state government specs. Isolated communities could have larger bunkers to accommodate the whole community's population.
Moreover, these bunkers could double as storm shelters, to protect residents from tropical cyclones that, with global warming, are becoming more intense, and are tracking further and further south.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
IT'S ALL THE LITTLE THINGS
WELL said, Mel Horadam (Letters, 6/11). Yes, what we need are clean, tidy and functional facilities at our ocean baths and beaches. Like other bureaucratic nightmares, this just drags on and on and on. Now we have the latest fancy, sometime in the future, vision. I believe this is a distraction from how things have been, and still appear to be, poorly maintained.
I have just re-read a January 2019 letter about the poor state of the female public amenities at the building housing Merewether Surf Club and the way in which waste water flows from the outdoor shower on the promenade between Merewether baths and Surf House. I understand the state of the public amenities has not improved, and I am left wondering as to whether the shower waste still flows across the pavement and onto unsuspecting beach goers and their belongings on the concrete seating overlooking the beach.
By all means, fix the inside of the Newcastle Baths building and definitely update the facilities at Merewether, but for goodness sake get on with it.
Bob Lovett, Fletcher
RELIABILITY IS REQUIRED
WHILE solar and wind-generated power can be cheaply produced, Peter Devey (Letters, 4/11), when the sun is shining and the wind blowing sufficiently it may not result in lower power bills.
Because of the intermittent and non-dispatchable nature of renewables it is essential to have back-ups such as batteries, pumped hydro, gas generation and even under-utilised coal-fired generation. Added to these are possible high-voltage interconnectors (SA to Victoria or NSW) or another Basslink (Tasmania to Victoria). Then there is the issue of maintaining frequency control as steam powered turbines are retired.
All the above has massive costs which, when amortised over the cheap electricity will result in household bills continuing to rise and the demise of much heavy industry.
Ted Burns, New Lambton
PROTEST JUST ONE PROBLEM
NOISY protesters encouraging organisations to transform funding and servicing fossil fuel companies are just a small part of Scott Morrison's problem. More than 1100 organisations worldwide, including over 200 from Australia, have divested $11.48 trillion away from fossil fuels.
The deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has warned the transition to a low carbon economy won't be easy, and it won't be cost-free, but it has to be done. Australian Prudential Regulation Association board member Geoff Summerhayes told an investor group conference his view is that the energy sector transition (away from fossil fuel) will play out a lot quicker than everybody thinks, probably by 2030. He suggested transport, agriculture and property would soon follow.
Firefighting organisations are facing catastrophic fire conditions. The National Farmers Federation, concerned about increasingly abnormal temperature, drought and rainfall patterns, is also pleading with governments to speed up the transformation away from fossil fuels.
Richard Mallaby, Wangi Wangi
A BICYCLE TOUR FOR TWO
THERE has been quite a bit of correspondence regarding the lack of cycle ways recently. It appears to me that those in higher office don't really understand the frustration, and indeed the lack of safety concerns.
My suggestion is for one of the larger bike shops to lend a tandem to the top two people in City of Newcastle and lead them on a tour of Newcastle and suburbs. If the tandem is too much, then individual bikes would do. We need designated safe routes and much improved road surfaces, with Mackie Avenue a prime example of the latter. There are many more.
Bill Livingstone, New Lambton
QUIET AUSSIES NO MORE
HOW good are quiet Australians?
That would depend on why they're staying quiet.
Judging by new laws banning protests, no whistleblower protection, no Bill of Rights enshrining free speech, plus unprecedented government powers allowing electronic surveillance like facial recognition and meta-data collection, it looks like the Coalition government wants to keep more and more Australians quiet.
I think Queensland under Bjelke Petersen was the last time free speech was repressed to this extent, and it didn't end well for Jo. He was eventually found to be presiding over one of the most disgracefully corrupt regimes in our history.
So good luck ScoMo, with your new police state, and with your great Australian coal and climate rip-off, because you can't keep all of us quiet all of the time. Let's just hope that the truth comes out sooner rather than later, because the time remaining to create a better future, is rapidly running out.
Michael Schien, New Lambton
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FARMERS, families and whole communities are devastated by drought. The government's drought relief has been slow in coming. Matt Canavan acknowledged this, but said the government has been busy with other things and that explains the delay. When some relief was provided earlier this year, money flowed to an area unaffected by drought. Businesses, too, are being wiped out in drought-affected communities but the government is offering them nothing. Maybe down the track more help will be provided if the government finds time.
John Butler, Windella Downs
WE can all rejoice that the federal government are proposing to release a $1 billion package to help our farmers with the drought that has been savage for years. Better late than never. It does show that if the government thinks there is enough votes in it, they will act. We can only assume that, despite the horrific findings of the royal commission into aged care, this same Coalition government cannot find the funds to stop 307 aged persons from dying without care or dignity every week as they believe we, as a society, don't give a damn about the care of our aged and frail mothers and fathers. As for me, I say no ScoMo.
Frank Ward, Shoal Bay
I AM saddened, disappointed and cannot understand the mindset of Newcastle council and the architects of this city who in my opinion show no sympathy or sensitivity when designing the upgrades of our heritage buildings. The image for the Newcastle Ocean Baths expressions of interest is I believe an example of the lack of respect shown for our past. The Rocks area of Sydney is a prime reason for keeping our history alive as it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sydney. As Robyn Single stated (Letters, 26/10) Newcastle is fast becoming a city of ticky- tacky boxes, and in my opinion a black box behind a heritage listed facade is tacky. It is akin to putting a hotel on Uluru.
Lynette Dailey, Adamstown
REGARDING Pat Conroy ('Our nation must lift its game on foreign aid', Opinion 6/11): I believe just how far the political parties have lost the Australian public is evident in this article. His opening comment is almost unbelievable: Australia is one of the world's richest countries and "needs to play its part in lifting people out of destitution and despair" with more foreign aid. Mr Conroy, look around you: charity begins at home. We have people living on the streets, our hospital system is in desperate need of money, our aged care system is pathetic; our farmers have largely been abandoned, and the list goes on and on. I have voted Labor all my life, but not anymore. Your article is the straw that broke the camel's back.
Geoffrey Brown, Kurri Kurri
NEWCASTLE Herald cartoonists are obviously talented and their depictions of Howard, Abbott, Rudd, Gillard, Turnbull, Morrison and Hanson over the years have been relatively amusing. I personally consider Greens leader Richard Di Natale one of the most ineffective leaders of any political party in this country and a cartoonist's dream. He doesn't seem to be the subject of any cartoons. Is he hard to draw?