THE Newcastle Herald editorial ("Time to hose down overheated debate", Opinion 9/1) appeared in my view to be an attempt to close down all debate and to blame climate change for the fires.
References were used to argue that research showed hazard reduction burning was not that important. Melbourne bushfire specialist Trent Penman apparently claimed that available surface fuel in burning made little difference to fire intensity in catastrophic fires. Great, but for the 90 per cent of fires that are not catastrophic would the fuel load make a difference?
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted University of Wollongong fire expert Professor Ross Bradstock saying that "hazard reduction burns carried out close to properties, within a couple of kilometres, can be very effective under extreme fire conditions up to four years or so after the bush was burnt ... but under catastrophic conditions like we've seen that window of effectiveness goes down to a year." He also reportedly said "hazard reduction near houses can be over 10 times more expensive than burning in a remote area of bush, but it's more cost effective."
That would seem to support more hazard reduction burning. The criticisms on fuel load burning have been that not enough hazard reduction is done and not that it hasn't been done. Some people think that doing burns every three or four years is enough. But my understanding is that Indigenous Australians historically would historically do burns each year.
Let landowners do their own hazard reduction burns or bush clearing and the cost to the state would be very low. This is a huge issue for Australia and I would ask the Herald not to hose down debate just because it upsets some people.
Peter Devey, Merewether
DON'T LET THEM IGNORE US
AS a grandparent I am greatly concerned at witnessing what affect climate change is having on our environment with the catastophic fire season we are experiencing. Predictions suggest it will only get worse, and our political leaders are seemingly refusing to take any relevant action to make any positive changes to protect our environment.
To make matters worse, the state government has had the temerity to change the planning laws to remove the specific requirement to consider downstream greenhouse gas emissions in determining a development application for the purposes of mining ('Move to take gas off table', Newcastle Herald 25/10). I'm not sure if they realise that it doesn't matter where it is burnt, it still impacts on the same planet we live on.
I believe it just shows that they are more concerned about their major benefactors than us, the general public. I believe it is dishonest to take the economic benefits but absolve ourselves of any responsibilities for the impact it has on the environment. I encourage all to do whatever they can to pressure the government to take action to mitigate the temperature rises which will come as a result of climate change.
Robert Masterson, Adamstown
FOOD MAY BE NEXT FRONTIER
THERE have been numerous letters and opinion pieces pointing out that we had been warned by scientists that the current climate crises was going to occur if we did not change our ways. It should also be recalled that scientists warned us that rising temperatures, droughts and loss of soil fertility would drastically reduce our agricultural output, destroying our self sufficiency in food.
We were even told that we could not support the current population and our long term carry capacity could be as low as 12 million. But of course, politicians don't listen to scientists when their findings clash with political dogma.
Don Owers, Dudley
REFILL VOIDS WITH RUBBISH
AS Glencore and other mining giants attempt to further dig bloody big holes ('Mine expansion plan a test for government', Herald 3/1) I see no mention or effort , to backfill or reclaim what was there in the first place.
If general garbage was allowed as backfill charging the same price per ton for which coal is selling I believe two problems would be solved with one effort, creating a profit generating business of immense wealth.
This happens at all local waste recycling depots, so why not a large practice where needed? Logistics are in place, including railway passage, and empty coal wagons needing back loading. As for years of methane gas being produced, next to a power station I am sure a use could be found.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
LAW CHANGE STIFLES DEBATE
GO back a couple of months before Christmas there was an government-approved raid on the ABC and some journalists by the Australian Federal Police in what I believe was an attempt to silence critics of the present government.
Now, it seems a journalist from The Saturday Paper has attempted to find out about Prime Minister Morrison's sacking from two jobs before he entered parliament, as head of Tourism New Zealand in 2000 and then as managing director of Tourism Australia in 2006.
Unable to get an answers from Prime Minister Morrison, this journalist is supposed to have tried to request a Freedom of Information release of data. The government has since pushed though Parliament the whistle-blowers act, in my opinion stifling any sort off criticism. Why are no other journalists following this and why are the other parliamentarians so silent?
John Matthews, Belmont North
WE CAN'T PICK AND CHOOSE
WE have seen a number of letters recently quoting verses from the Bible as justifiable evidence supporting a point of view. Peter Dolan (Letters 9/1), for example, quotes Leviticus as support for there being no conflict between faith and science.
Maybe Mr Dolan can help me understand when Leviticus 25:44 tells me that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. Would this include New Zealand?
Leviticus 21:20 tells me I may not approach the altar if I have a defect in my sight. Does my vision have to be 20/20 or is there a small allowance?
Most of the males I know get their hair trimmed around their temples, which is expressly forbidden in Leviticus 19:27. How should they be punished?
A relative violates Leviticus 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field. Does this apply to Australia, as when Leviticus was written I assume the writer did not know that this land existed? I wonder how our native animals got on the ark?.
I have more examples and need to be convinced that science and faith don't both select the evidence that supports their particular beliefs.
Anne Killen, Garden Suburb
I RECKON fair dinkum Australians will choose to holiday in Australia to help support Aussies affected by the bushfires. We have the most spectacular country on earth, so why would you go anywhere else? If you're fair dinkum, give Bali and the like the flick. They certainly don't give a toss about us; all they want is the Aussie dollar
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
IT'S interesting and rather startling to learn that the world's population increased from a billion people in 1804 to two billion in 1927. The figure currently stands at about 7.5 billion and is predicted to hit eight billion by 2025. That's a 400 per cent increase in the last 100 years. There's no dispute that more people in the world are riding motorcycles, driving cars and catching more planes and power boats. More people are using electricity and as a result leaving a much larger carbon footprint. Rather than arguing about whether climate change is real or not, let's call it what it is: human induced climate change. Let's hope it's only a minor hiccup in the worlds history, but unfortunately sometimes the only way to get rid of hiccups is with a scare.
Neil Meyers, Warners Bay
WHEN thalidomide was dangerous, we stopped. When leaded fuel was dangerous, we stopped. When CFCs were dangerous, we stopped. When PFAS was dangerous, we stopped. When greenhouse gases were dangerous, we stalled.
Samuel Rogers, Redhead
ONCE again a coach gets the sack when the team is not winning games. When is the blame going to fall on the players who are not performing well? A coach can only do so much. Ernie Merrick was always on his players' side and I will miss seeing and hearing him on TV.
Meryl Pickles, Macquarie Hills
INTERESTING thoughts from Carl Stevenson (Short Takes, 1/1) regarding Scott Morrison. While I'm sure one day in the not to distant future he will be working for a bank or coal mine or some such thing, at the moment he is the leader of this country. Although I think he is entitled to his holiday, and personally believe he can stay in Hawaii for the rest of his term for all I care (in fact, the country maybe better of if he did), most people take comfort in seeing their leader lead from the front. I'm sure he knew that.
Malcolm Asquith. Maitland
THE release of the Liberal Party's bushfire video and jingle helps a few depressed Australians dealing with disaster. After much indecision and clumsiness, Canberra jumped online. Too late for many of us, left with disappointment that Canberra wasn't listening and not for the first time. Mr Morrison, in his muddle-headed way, reflected how many Australians saw themselves faced with death and destruction in their own backyards and not in a land far away.
John Butler, Windella
SO riveting to see Keith Parsons back on the letters page (Short Takes, 6/1), once again whinging about Newcastle and what it has to offer. A suggestion: Mr Parsons, if you don't like Newcastle then move away and whine about somewhere else.