I've become a cranky old man.
I'm cranky at nations and leaders around the world who have ignored scientists for decades over the effects of climate change.
I'm cranky at the inaction and lack of planning of the Australian government and our leaders to cope with this problem.
I'm cranky our Prime Minister has ignored the advice and predictions of a group of highly respected and experienced fire chiefs who predicted this current bushfire disaster almost a year ago. I'm cranky at what I believe to be the inept way he has handled himself since he returned from holidays.
I'm cranky at the NSW government who can waste funds on ill-planned projects in Sydney (a billion dollars over budget on the light rail; an unnecessary new football stadium that is also well over budget) while at the same time cutting back on funds to emergency services to country NSW.
I'm cranky at the emergency services minister going overseas during this time. I'm cranky at a government back-bencher sounding so ignorant on British TV.
But I guess I'm just a cranky old man.
The one bright spot is the sheer determination, courage and Aussie spirit shown by our wonderful firefighters. For the sake of my children and grandchildren, I can only hope our politicians and leaders can learn something from these fine people.
Ken Springbett, Cessnock
AIR SUPPORT IS CRUCIAL
CURRENT bushfire fighting priorities are to protect people, property and the environment in that order. Even if fully achieved, these priorities cannot effectively reduce the future threat.
It's time to put the environment first and buy a fleet of large aerial tankers and infrastructure to immediately suppress and manage fires as hazard reduction opportunities. This will achieve beneficial mosaic burns, minimise bush-fire emergencies and introduce effective aerial resources to better protect the community.
The true cost of the 2019-2020 bushfires will never be known. The benefits of large-scale aerial firefighting capability are clear and urgently needed.
Chris Russell, Gloucester
DISSENT IS NOT TREASON
MICHAEL Hinchey's letter (Letters, 8/1) reminded me of the late shock jock Stan Zemanek, who together with his wife Marcella wrote My Way or the Highway. I believe Stan's legacy is the book, the title of which sums up his attitude, and the message that bullying pays very well.
There are many out there, people that Michael Hinchey so aptly names the Love It Or Leave (LIOL) brigade. These people in my opinion find diversity threatening. Thankfully, circumstances change and so can attitudes.
Opening our minds to every possibility is healthy. People who protected and hid Jews in Nazi Germany placed their own lives at risk. They turned their back on the ugly side of patriotism, which is the it's-my-country-right-or-wrong way of thinking.
The best parent is one who is happy when their offspring have different ideas and opinions to themselves. A controlling parent is one who suggests their child leave the house if they voice other views.
Julie Robinson, Cardiff
MEAT HALFWAY ON CLIMATE
2020 is not just a year; it's an expression, meaning clear or accurate vision. But our vision of the first few days of the year has been of bushfires turning day into night and cattle, sheep and native animals dying by the hundreds of thousands.
Our vision is impeded by our watery eyes - tears of grief, or seeping discharges caused by toxic smoke. But crying doesn't help. We know that climate change is making droughts and conflagrations far more catastrophic.
Bureau of Meteorology statistics released this week show that 2019 was our hottest, driest year on record and 2020 is not likely to be any better. We donate to victims; we lobby for renewable energies and cleaner transport. But daily, most Australians contribute their money to the industries that cause a significant portion of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions: meat, dairy and eggs.
Cattle and sheep emit large amounts of methane, while forests are razed for grazing or to grow grains that are fed to factory farmed chickens and pigs. All these animals suffer tortuous treatments like castration, mulesing, de-beaking and de-horning before their agonising deaths. It's not only destructive, but also wasteful - more than 80 per cent of farmland is used for animal agriculture, which produces just 18 per cent of our food calories.
Eliminating meat and dairy and eating plant-based diets instead would free up land for reforestation. Researchers say that is the best way to store large amounts of carbon. Let's use our 2020 vision, and head for the vegan food aisle.
Desmond Bellamy, PETA Australia
CODE NEEDS RENOVATION
WHAT a tragedy to see these houses burn to the ground due to ember storms. Constantly we see images of home owners emptying litres of water into roofing gutters which are more than likely filled with dry leaves from drought-stressed trees.
I believe we need to redesign houses so that they do not have leaf-gathering valleys and gutters. I'm suggesting igloo style arched rooves rather than the conventional hip-and-valley roof. Surely it would be better to allow roofing water to simply drop into spoon drains below and then direct the precious water into underground storage tanks. Above-ground tanks often melt when exposed to ferocious fires, whereas in my opinion underground tanks would likely survive. Here is the challenge for engineers and architects: to step up to the plate and design houses that have a reasonable chance of survival in fire-prone areas. There are many aspects of building construction that need to be reviewed so that the risk of fire can be reduced. I think the Building Code of Australia is due for a rebuild.
Stan Keifer, Arakoon
WHERE DOES THE BUCK STOP
YOU know, if a school principal ignored warnings from his/her groundsman that a tree in the school yard needed to come down because it was likely to drop some heavy branches and possibly injure or kill someone, and then it happened and someone was killed, I would expect that principal would probably find themselves in serious trouble for negligence of some kind.
That said, at what stage does a prime minister or government minister who has been repeatedly warned by experts and others that fire danger in the country had become extreme and needed immediate attention, and who chose to ignore the warnings, become responsible? Just wondering.
Robert Emery, Cardiff South
LETTER OF THE WEEK
THE pen goes to Michael Hinchey for his letter on the bushfire crisis, climate change and leadership.
WELL said, Olwyn Edmonds (Letters, 9/1). The media should be asking for and publishing the accurate, detailed accounting for all these charitable fundraisings which, in many cases, are generated by hysterical emotion given to us as news under sensational headlines. Why can't the media give us the full facts, then provide any necessary follow-up to complete the story?
Bruce Brown, Marks Point
RESPONDING to Brian Agland (Letters, 9/1) I am not a armchair expert. I have an opinion like everyone else. I would not have thought Scott Morrison a dictator if he had sent the military in early, I would have believed that it was proactive. Anyway, I respect your say in the matter and maybe lessons will be learned from this disaster.
Andy McFadden, Warners Bay
SPOT on, Bob Watson (Letters, 9/1). I would also add to that, if backbenchers are that inconsequential and incompetent, why are they allowed to have their vote counted in passing unworthy government policies?
Allan Earl, Beresfield
HOW did Scott Morrison arrive on Kangaroo Island and blurt out "thankfully we've had no loss of life"? I'd say everyone else in Australia knew that two well-known locals had perished in these fires.
Mac Maguire, Charlestown
IN my opinion it does not matter one iota who the Jets employ to take the team or club into the future ('On the radar', Herald 8/1) as long as the new coach brings his own budget with him. Ernie Merrick was, I believe, sadly hung out to dry in financial terms. I'm grateful for what the owner has put in, but sadly we are only competing with Mariners in financial terms.
Bruce Kidd, Stockton
SO a 15-year-old is accused of committing two crimes while out on bail and is given bail again? What does it take to be kept behind bars?
Matt Ophir, Charlestown
ENGLISH being my favourite subject through my schooling years, I am wondering about the spelling of the synonym for prison. Is it jail or gaol? I have, for years, been under the impression gaol is the correct spelling here in Australia. Can anyone please enlighten me on this conundrum that haunts me every time I pick up a newspaper?
Matt McAlary, Waratah
AUSTRALIANS of the Year 2020: the NSW Rural Fire Service and volunteers across Australia. God bless you all, and thank you.
Jan Wells, Cameron Park
SURPRISE surprise, I've just received an email from an electricity company informing me prices are going up. Get used to it; got to save the planet.
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
I AGREE with you, Carl Stevenson (Letters, 6/1) as I also believe Scott Morrison is not a miracle worker, but apparently the leaders of the religious sect he belongs to believe that they are. Maybe Scomo can get them to donate one of these miracles to the firefighters. One thing is certain: they won't have any trouble finding a burning bush.