It's a shame that even in the haze of a bushfire crisis the facts can be obstructed by the political smokescreen. As I write this, the smoke has cleared and there is the hope of rain on the horizon, but the impacts of this event will be long lasting for the people who've lost their homes, friends and family.
I only hope that the memory of this summer will be burned into the memory of our political machine. This letter draws inspiration from an album written at around the same time I was born, and it terrifies me to think that the sentiment might still be relevant in another 30 years.
Thoughts and prayers were not what was needed. People soon recognise that faith alone can't offer the solutions we desire. What the world needs now is some answers to our problems; what the world needs now is accountability.
I've seen my ancestors spend with careless abandon, assuming an eternal supply. I've watched the scientists throw up their hands, conceding as the population hopes that progress will resolve it all. I've seen the manufacturers of earth's debris ignore another Greenpeace call. We can't buy more time because time won't accept our money.
This bright ship Humana sails somewhere far away, with great determination and no destination. This bright ship Humana is taking on water, yet on we sail with soaking boots and eyes on the horizon. When will we realise that we can't wait until we're underwater before searching for a way to plug these holes?
When the climate science is clear, why does climate change denial linger? It's right there in the title: denial. It's for the same reasons that the Flat Earth Society is meeting somewhere in the wings, singing happy little lies. At a time of such technological, social and moral advancement these ideas continue to flourish. Is it fear that motivates them?
They look to a time of candlesticks and compasses, longing for a time where climate change and a nationwide firestorm isn't a reality of our existence. Maybe they fear that changing the status quo will have a negative impact on their comfortable existence. Maybe it's selfishness, the belief that their planet supports only them?
Extinction and degradation are the natural outcome of our ordered lives. Change must happen. A society grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they will never sit. At a time when planting trees has never been more important, I can only hope that our leaders take heed of this sentiment.
Simon Jones, Stockton
OUR VIEW IS TOO NARROW
The timeline of life on planet earth and what has transpired during that period is something
that we humans cannot ever begin to comprehend. We live our lives looking through the prism of a relatively limited period, say 2000 years and even that period cannot really be felt or appreciated.
We can feel 10, 20, 50 or for some people 90 years. We can discern the happenings during those times, but what about 10,000 years or 100,000 years or 10, 20 or 100 million years? We look at life through such a narrow prism because we are incapable of viewing it any other way.
We branched off from the apes around 6 million years ago, our closest relative being the chimpanzees. Homo erectus appeared about 2 million years ago and it is thought that the act of standing (bipedal) caused a realignment of the anatomy at the base of the skull thereby facilitating the enlargement of the brain.
This superior intelligence has brought with it a mixed bag of results, from amazing to absolutely horrifying and unfortunately it is not conducive to living in the finite home in which it depends on for its survival. We share the fundamental instincts of self-preservation and procreation as with other species, but we come with so many more behavioural traits, most of which are not sustainable over the longer period.
If we could understand what has transpired over millions of years our behaviour would have to be much different. For example, I believe it would be impossible to be religious. Religion serves to appease this superior brain by advocating that death is not final as it is with all other species. The temerity of humans is astounding.
We are living with such a narrow viewpoint of life on this earth because we are incapable of comprehending anything else and this I'm afraid will bring about our demise and along with it many other species.
Dallas Bellamy, West Wallsend
FUEL IS THE FIRST STEP
LIVING at Fassifern, I frequently walk the path between the train station and Toronto beside the disused railway track. I am alarmed at the dry fuel load beneath the trees.
A cigarette butt, a spark or a lightning strike would cause the whole line of flammable trees to burst into flames like the horrific scenes we've been seeing in reports of fires in the state's south.
I believe houses on either side along Railway Avenue and Railway Parade would be at extreme risk, and houses kilometres away could face danger from ember attack. The problem would be solved, or at least the danger decreased, if residents on either side were encouraged to clear the ground fuel from the small area in front of their own endangered houses and use their green bins to dispose of the dangerously dry tinder.
One might hope that the council would do the job, but as this small line of trees is undoubtedly representative of bushland throughout the city and surrounding area, it would be a mammoth task. I think it would be simpler for each endangered householder to take responsibility for the small areas in front of and near their homes.
Just walking beside this tinder box provokes frightening images of the devastating fires we have been seeing for so long in the media. Householders, you are the ones at most risk; do something about it.
Jim Wright, Fassifern
TIME TO FIND SHORTCOMINGS
LANG Barrie (Short Takes, 16/1) believes holding a royal commission into the bushfires would be a huge waste of money ('PM weighs up recovery plans for devastated communities', Newcastle Herald 17/1). He suggests money would be better spent purchasing fire fighting equipment and other resources required for emergencies.
It is all very well to boost the resources of the relative emergency bodies. However,we need to be better prepared for any future disasters of the magnitude we have witnessed. Regardless of cost a royal commission is, in effect, the only way to reveal any shortcomings in our emergency procedures.
Do not be too concerned about the future of our Prime Minister. To quote an old axiom, I think his goose is cooked.
Robert Tacon, Adamstown Heights
LETTER OF THE WEEK
THE pen goes to Barbara Heaton, of New Lambton, for her letter on Jim Comerford.
I RECKON it's time the climate change debate (or fiasco) came to a head with a solution that would be agreeable apron from both sides of the debate. A royal commission using proven scientific facts, not fiction or unproven theories, is the only way forward. That would allow governments to take a positive step either way, unchallenged. Maybe too much money has already been spent, or maybe not enough, and there will always be those who do not accept the decision from either side, but for the sake of the need to move forward rather than being stuck on a merry go round I believe a royal commission is the only solution. It must go ahead without political interference, mob pressure or financial interests.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
STEVE Barnett (Short Takes, 17/01), the way the earth works is a little more complex than simple observation of apparent sea level might suggest. The rocks can in fact rise. It's called eustasy.
Marvyn Smith, Heddon Greta
DICK Smith for prime minister. He's the only one capable of restoring order, renewable energy infrastructure, and decent water management.
Brendan Mackay, Warners Bay
I WENT to the much maligned men's toilets at Nobbys beach recently and found that three of the four doors to the cubicles had been kicked in, rendering them unable to be shut or locked. Is it any wonder that the council may sometimes seem reluctant to give Newcastle anything any good? These doors are physically broken to the extent of having to be replaced. To whoever damaged them like this: what an idiot
Les Powell, Charlestown
RUTH Boydell (Letters 15/1) lets Scott Morrison know what he should be doing for us. Apart from saving our wildlife, environment, earth, ocean and air, she wants better public transport, schools, healthcare and welfare. She also suggest that we are not at all interested in economic growth. Unfortunately, it's a bit like love and marriage; you can't have one without the other.
David Stuart, Merewether
WITH the unprecedented drought and bushfires we are experiencing now, it would appear that we are heading into an unpredictable future of troubled waters. Rolling along with the status quo just won't do; change has to occur. First and foremost, we must have politicians that are competent and up to handling the job, which in my opinion we have seen is not the case now. I believe the fact that we have eight different states and territories with their own rules and legislation also complicates and holds up a quick action when required ('National inquiry on bushfires not halted by state probes: PM', Newcastle Herald 15/1). As for the future, I believe it is a no-brainer that we have got to start producing as much fresh water as is possible. We can no longer rely on rain or underground water and recycling. While it is of course a necessary part of our supply, it will only ever go so far. Australians don't like change, as was shown by the last election, but thoughts and prayers didn't help us now and won't in the future.