AUSTRALIA'S bushfire tragedy this summer, and the catastrophic nature of the past few weeks' events, has had a local and a global impact.
The fires were a portent of the future in a warming world. They provided evidence and a focus for people dispirited by the failure of global climate change talks in Madrid in December. Those talks ended with no consensus because of the actions of Australia, Brazil and America.
Like no other event linked to concerns about global warming, the Australian fires have galvanised calls for action.
The fires have also had a very local impact.
Everyone knows someone affected by the bushfires, or has spent time in areas now scorched to the ground. Everyone is shattered by images of toddlers at their young firefighter fathers' funerals, or of animals felled and blackened in the wake of firestorms.
The outpouring of generosity and support that has followed these horrifying blazes has been a positive, at a time when there don't seem to be many positives.
Again, it has had a global and local perspective. Celebrities have caught people's attention. Large donations from performers including Elton John and Pink, veteran band Metallica, from Kylie and Dannii Minogue and Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have been a surprise. Comedian Celeste Barber's collection of pledges for tens of millions of dollars has been astonishing.
Australian corporations including the big four banks and Woolworths and Coles have been topped by huge pledges from the Paul Ramsay Foundation and Andrew Forrest's $70 million from his Minderoo Foundation.
The big donations have captured headlines, but so too have the spontaneous collections and fundraisers that have occurred across the country, including in the Hunter.
It is early days. Families in some areas are only just returning to the places that used to be home. Some towns and villages are without even basic services. Many, many Australians right now are counting the cost.
Any traumatic event can leave people feeling isolated. Fires that claimed people's lives have left many thousands of Australians without the moorings of their normal lives, and with no clear idea of the future.
In these blackened holiday areas they need to grieve and rebuild, and then they need us to return.