Saw a post on social media today that 1990 and 2050 are the same time frame away, and it sort of horrified me a bit.
While it would be nice to post about positive things (which I will do in a little bit), the start of the year hasn’t been quite as festive as some would have preferred it to be.
As a person living in Australia, I can’t really ignore the bushfire crisis currently tearing up the country. I’ve been keeping up with the alerts and news updates, and feel truly awful for people having to fight through this. I remember Black Saturday (now 11 years ago) and how horrific that was. While they weren’t close family friends of ours, we did lose some people in our (relatively small, now that I think of it) social circle on that day. I’ve watched those communities rebuild in subsequent visits, but you can tell it’s a scar that won’t ever really disappear.
This time it’s just a whole lot worse. The fire season started earlier, it’s going to last longer, and so much of the land has already burned away (and we’ve still got February coming up, which is typically peak bushfire season). So many people have already died, or lost homes, and generally just put through hell… but what’s been eating me up inside the most is the lack of coordinated leadership amongst all this horror.
I mean- is it honestly that hard to acknowledge that climate change is exacerbating the current bushfire season? When leading experts in the field (be it scientists, firefighters or state park management) have said that there is an unprecedented risk which can only get worse, and that we need to do something about it… I trust these authorities, because this is what they’re trained for. They have knowledge that we should value. If we don’t listen to these people and opt instead to just wait for the problems to go away… Well- they won’t go away.
And I know people reading this will react negatively and make claims that it’s all just ‘political correctness’ or ‘leftist agendas’… Since when is it a leftist agenda to trust scientific evidence and leading authorities? I know the people who have been calling for climate action know their shit. If they make recommendations, in my mind we should do our best to implement them. But as soon as I say that, I immediately get shut down as a ‘leftie’. As a scientist, that’s just not how it works. If I do experiments, and the overwhelming evidence from the generated data tells me that I should do *insert action*, then I will do said action. If someone who has more experience than I do shows multiple sets of robust data that says I should do something different, then I will put my ego aside and implement their conclusions instead.
Leaving aside all the other horrible things some politicians have said and done in response to the current bushfire crisis (looking at you, Barnaby ‘they probably voted Greens’ Joyce, and handshake expert Scott Morrison), I think the above is what frustrates me the most. Be it anti-vaxxers or climate change denialists… just- people who deny a massive cohort of expert knowledge and evidence because they supposedly know better. Their ignorance is putting other people’s lives at risk, and it makes me sad.
So, I’ll keep up with the updates, because I have family and friends in bushfire danger zones. I’m going to donate to the bushfire relief efforts because I want to… but at the heart of it, I’m just going to be really disappointed, because this was a disaster that people knew was going to happen.
To anyone reading this who is being affected by the current bushfires, please stay safe. I’ve seen and read photos and articles about the amazing things people have done to save lives, look after survivors, and just be decent human beings. I think I’ll focus on that while I wait for some real leadership.