THERE have been calls this week demanding an increase in fire hazard reduction. I am no expert on bushfire prevention, but I am a passionate, long-time, observer of nature with a modicum of commonsense.
To me this seems like a waste of resources and money for three reasons.
Firstly, back-burning is a controlled burn which burns and reduces the ground cover, but not the tree canopy. During hot weather, trees shed leaves in order to conserve their water. One tree can shed thousands of leaves per week.
Secondly, selecting the right areas to burn-off is pure pot luck.
Are statistics kept of how the severity of our recent fires were lessened due to hazard reduction?
Thirdly, back-burning would only help if the conditions were moderate.
Back-burning and clearing is not going to stop a fire fanned by 100km/h winds. Embers can jump up to 20kms, starting new spot fires.
Burning-off kills millions of ground dwelling creatures like insects, reptiles, amphibians and some types of birds and animals.
Back-burning to fight a fire already burning is sensible, but to burn hectares of bush on speculation is folly.
I would rather see the money being spent on more firefighting resources and reducing our country's reliance on fossil fuels.
Robert Gibson, Charlestown
Being choosy on climate
WITH predictable monotony, Peter Devey has contributed (Short Takes, 22/1) pointing out that it has rained and that climate change is not happening. His contributions were notably absent when we were experiencing record temperatures and record low levels of rainfall.
In earlier correspondence to this paper he also pointed to a very isolated "cold hard fact" that somewhere in the northern hemisphere record cold temperatures were being experienced without acknowledging that heat records were being smashed in most of the world and especially right here at home.
In another article he claimed, citing two references, that new electricity generation was cheaper to produce than with renewables despite numerous peer reviewed articles that claim the opposite.
On checking the sources of his references, one was a consultant report commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia and the other was also a consultant report commissioned by an American group funded by a billionaire who has made his money from the fossil fuel industry. Neither report was peer reviewed.
I nominate Mr Devey for the cherry picker of the year award.
Lloyd Davies, Stockton
Free flowing water
LEVEL 2 water restrictions are now here and we are being warned about the seriousness of adhering to the rules and of the large fines which could be applied if one is found in breach.
I ask, therefore, why it took Hunter Water and its contractor over four days to repair a leak in North Lambton this week?
The leak was reported to Hunter Water last Friday, January 17, and whilst an inspection was carried out, the property owner received a text message on Monday to advise that the repair would be done in the next 10 days.
I rang Hunter Water on Monday, January 20, to report said leak and was advised that it had already been reported and passed on to their contractor for attention.
I was given a job number to ring the contractor if I wished to.
The repair was completed on Tuesday, January 21, but not after running freely 24/7 for four-and-a-half days. Not good enough. In this time of dire water shortage, repairs should be attended to immediately.
Liz Giusti, Eleebana
A meating of ideas
I COULDN'T believe what I saw watching a show last night on how meat production is the major contributor to the demise of our climate and environment. It was called "how meat production is and has affected the planet".
Do yourself a favour, seriously, and watch it or get it on DVD - it will change your perception on climate and environmental issues. Coal burning is way down the list as far as main contributors towards climate problems.
Before you comment on my observations, please see this show first and open up to other major problems that really are the major problems towards climate.
I'd love to hear your observations and thoughts after you watch that program, it will change your thoughts guaranteed.
Graeme Kime, Cameron Park
Railing against claims
IN the Newcastle Herald on January 21 there was an article "CBD parking revenue falls" blaming the success of the light rail for the downturn in parking revenue in Newcastle's CBD.
It just goes to show that you can interpret statistics to suit one's argument.
The decline has nothing to do with people like me who do not want to visit Newcastle because they are frightened that they won't get a car park because of the lack of parking since the light rail was installed
Or that since the light rail was installed, businesses have gone bust in the CBD so people don't wish to visit.
The closure of businesses has nothing to do with the fact there is no parking at Wickham Interchange to catch the light rail to spend money in the CBD.
John Howard, Raymond Terrace
Cut talk of logging
IN my opinion, the Australian bushfires are a climate change emergency.
The CFMEU along with the bosses want to save the nation from bushfires by going into our national parks to hazard reduction burn and conduct selective logging.
To me this is just a smoke screen. I think they want to get into our national parks to profit and plunder.
I think there is only one way to go and that's with the Indigenous peoples and their burning practices working alongside with the Rural Fire Services.
The union's involvement with coalmining means it is on its way to become a dinosaur union and if they get their way Australia will be a dinosaur continent. The planet is boiling over with fossil fuel carbon emissions, the world needs trees to suck up the carbon and give us oxygen in return.
No point blaming the greenies, that's a lot of bull. Governments are still opening new coalmines, selling our water from underneath our feet for foreign investors.
No more coalmines, no privatisation of our water, capitalism needs to diversify and get more involved with renewables with imagination and zeal.
The planet cannot take much more carbon in the atmosphere, more carbon means more severe droughts and bushfires.
Maureen O'Sullivan Davidson, Swansea
GREAT news regarding the airport expansion ('Up in the air', Newcastle Herald, 22/1). Yet there is still only one road in and out of Nelson Bay to bring in more tourism. The area was blessed that we escaped the bushfires, so far so lucky, otherwise it would be catastrophic to say the least. Fingers crossed.
Margaret Seers, Shoal Bay
I BELIEVE the silent majority as they are continually referred to should be just that, silent. If you are not going to help save this planet, our one and only home, get the hell out of the way and let the people who give a damn get on with it. The tide has turned, climate change can no longer be ignored.
Dan Kirkpatrick, Karuah
WHY must Lake Macquarie City Council resurface roads using the blackest asphalt they could find? As if we aren't hot enough.
Samuel Rogers, Redhead
IF they are true, reports claiming the Red Cross and other charity groups are planning to put aside millions of the money that has been donated for people suffering in the bushfire crisis are outrageous. People generously gave money to help their fellow Aussies because they thought all the money would be used for fire victims now, not some hypothetical disaster in the future. If the money is not distributed now, the next time we have an extreme weather event people may not be so keen to give their hard earned money to any charity group.
Jim Gardiner, New Lambton
JUST want to say, as a Victorian from Latrobe Valley, and as a citizen of Australia, how very thankful I am that your people seem to act with diligence and integrity. Reading on the Drip, inter alia. These are crucial matters. Again, I commend and thank you all at the Newcastle Herald. Please extend my gratitude to the ground troops.
Christine Lakers, Morwell
REGARDING Stephen Watson's letter about dog poo on Bathers Way and unruly dog owners (Letters, 23/1), nothing will change unless they are sanctioned for not cleaning up after their pets.
Bryn Roberts, New Lambton
JUST three questions to Scott Hillard (Letters, 22/1): 1. Do you believe in climate change? 2. Is wealth more important than the environment? 3. When does it stop? In regard to Joseph Williams (Letters, 22/1) I respect anyone who is honest despite their failings. I'm afraid no one is above reproach, in particular those elected to govern.
Alan Metcalf, Stockton
PM Morrison reminds me of the story, Nero played the lyre while Rome burns. Morrison jets off on his Hawaiian holiday while Australian burns, causing death and destruction. 'How good is that' as the PM would say. Not a good look I would say.
Richard Ryan, Summerland Point
YES, Peter Devey, in that famous poem Australia is described as a land of droughts and flooding rains (Short Takes, 22/1). And the climate denial movement is now trying to tack on a final stanza in which it's full of doubts and plodding brains.