February 2020 we were just emerging from that bushfire season

So I thought reprising a relevant entry from this blog would be apt.

Also I am still percolating those developments from my Facebook world! And referring to the previous post here, this is what at the time of writing (1.45 pm Sunday) the average views per day look like:

I might add that one development connected to the recent conversations on Facebook has been to introduce a former Wollongong High colleague and very close friend in those days, Rosemary, to my Joshua Lee Turner fandom. Her response:

I listened, I took your suggestion, I searched your blog……and learned so much more about this impressive young man and his equally impressive music. Thank you Neil for opening a new world of pleasure for me… When many musical artists are so synthetic and ego driven I am loving his humility and sincerity as he shares songs he loves and his original compositions . I now look forward to your next Josh Turner offering.

Yesterday’s Josh Turner offering was a 1934 classic:

Now to February 2020:

Sharing some great TV as bushfire season goes on but must be nearing end…

Posted on  by Neil

Thank God for the ABC, not just for the following three programs last Monday night but for the many intelligent analyses there of our UNPRECEDENTED — since European settlement at least — bushfire season, but for the sterling work the local radio stations have been doing keeping up with warnings in real time. That includes here in Wollongong, where thus far we have been unbelievably lucky in that we have avoided major bushfires, though the chances must have been very real.

I have in mind later to write a really personal post about this past season which has delivered some unexpected outcomes, even for me, and for my extended family.

But for now, ABC on Monday night.

First came Four Corners:

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This special bushfire edition of Four Corners is presented by Hamish Macdonald.

“We can’t get any help…the truck is burning.” NSW Fire crew, Nowra

They are the videos that stopped the nation and stunned the world – images from the firegrounds capturing the ferocity of the bushfires that have raged around Australia this black summer.

“Mate you need to get out! Don’t go back in there!” Police Officer, Peregian Beach QLD

These videos have been viewed tens of millions of times, but who filmed them and how did their stories end?

“All of the sudden, it was right upon us, within seconds. And we had time to say, ‘Get in the house.’ We got in the house, and it just exploded all around us.” Resident, Kangaroo Island SA

On Monday Four Corners brings you the people and the stories behind the heart-stopping footage seen around the world.

“The hose is burnt! The hose is burnt!” Resident, East Gippsland VIC

A team of reporters and producers have fanned out across the country to track down the Australians who found themselves in the centre of the firestorms. What emerges are incredible stories of survival, bravery and heartbreak.

“Dad was a person that liked to help people, and exactly the same for my brother…They’re going to be missed, and we just hope that I can fill their shoes. It’s tough going.” Brother, Cobargo NSW

From the cabins of firetrucks driving into the inferno to families retreating to the beaches as the flames grew ever closer, these stories from the frontlines are both terrifying and awe-inspiring.

“We could feel that heat coming through the truck. We could see the flames coming in horizontally… we’re beginning to make our retreat when the truck came to a complete standstill.” NSW Fire crew, Nowra

There is also a transcript, but do watch it if you can. Words failed me as I watched, and still do!

Next a blistering exposure of the Fools and Drongos that infest Sky News In The Dark and Murdochiana more generally. If you think I am being “mean”, just watch as these recalcitrants are vivisected before your very eyes!  Transcripts of these national embarrassments are available. For example:

And welcome to Groundhog Day, where the loudest voices at News Corp are adamant that the summer’s terrifying bushfires have nothing to do with climate change.

Or, if they have, there’s nothing we can do about it.

And, as always, welcome back to News Corp’s team of hand-picked, highly-paid columnists and TV hosts on Sky, who are leading the chorus:

PETA CREDLIN: So, let me deal with the issue head on. Does climate change cause these fires? No.

– Credlin, Sky News, 20 January, 2020

CHRIS KENNY: … So that’s the key. The drought. And if drought can’t be blamed on climate change you can’t blame the fires on climate change, especially when so many are deliberately lit …

– The Kenny Report, Sky News, 11 December, 2019

ALAN JONES: What’s burning in Victoria are eucalypts. What’s burning in South Australia are eucalypts … When are we going to wake up and stop using this as an excuse to justify the climate change hoax?

– Richo & Jones, Sky News, 29 January, 2019

Passionate denial that the bushfires should make us act on climate change runs right across the Murdoch media in this country reaching an audience of millions.

I no longer have the patience to tolerate such buffoonery!

Finally, #QandA has been reinvented under the leadership of Hamish Macdonald, and what a good look it now is! I had almost given up on QandA, but I’ll now be back for sure. And among politicians Andrew Constance is now my hero!

There were many revelations during the show, some of them much more important than Senator Jim Molan’s foot-in-the-mouth moment. This for example from Andrew Constance:

When I took off from home, I could hear it. The power of the heatwave off it, I thought I was going to melt. When I got in the car, the car gauge was at 58 degrees and it wasn’t going south. And, you know, I just don’t know how we didn’t lose hundreds of people there. And, Hamish, to your point about mental health, I’m the first to put my hand up – I’ve cried, I’ve been hugged, I’ve been loved. But the trauma of this is so profound, and it’s affecting thousands of people across our regions, and we need help. And I mean, this is why today…

HAMISH MACDONALD

Andrew, have you had help yet?

ANDREW CONSTANCE

I’ve had a couple of phone calls from people. I’ve certainly had my colleagues, in some cases, running around saying they’re worried about me. But I’m drawing strength from my neighbours and Jen and the kids. Yeah, I’m going to need proper counselling. Absolutely, Hamish, I’m going to need proper counselling, and that’s why I’ve been vocal about this. Males in particular hide this up and bottle it up. And, you know, I’ve had farmers cry. I had a mate today cry as he was waiting for the fire to come to his place this morning.

Update 12 February

The next episode of #QandA delivered a very useful minimally partisan discussion of what might be done in future here in Australia to address climate change.

HAMISH MACDONALD

Jennifer Westacott, can, should, business do it themselves regardless of whether government is providing the big plan of action?

 

JENNIFER WESTACOTT, CEO BUSINESS COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA

Well, business is already doing lots of things in this space, and we can talk about some of those examples. But to your very important question, I think we’ve all got a responsibility to kind of find a way through this, and that starts with, where do we want to be? You know, and the science tells us that where we need to be is a net zero emissions by 2050.

So, let’s start there and let’s work our way… What are the milestones? How do we hold ourselves accountable? What are the technologies? How do we create jobs in regions? What are the new jobs? How do we accelerate technology? How do we do this in a way that preserves affordability, keeps prices down? How do we do it in a way that keeps reliability up? How do we do it in a way that grows the economy? How do we do it in a way that brings the community with us?

As COP-26 gathers, who remembers November 2019 to January 2020? The ABC for one…

The real thing

Among my blog posts over that time: 13 November 2019.

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And looking back from 20 July 2020:

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Dargan, near Lithgow NSW  — part of the Gospers Mountain fire
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We became accustomed but not inured to signs like that over spring (that one is from spring!) and summer 2019-2020.  I had several relatives affected by this and other blazes — yes, there were other mega-blazes — including my cousin Ray Christison of Lithgow (above) who wrote at the time:

“Big day for an old bloke. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and support. I just want to clarify something. I’m not in the RFS and was working yesterday as a museum volunteer. I have considered joining the RFS over the years but know I would be allocated to a communications role.”

On Sunday night I saw the final episode of what must rank as one of the best drama series our ABC has ever broadcast — and that really is a ringing endorsement. Back when it started it was introduced thus:

The ABC is proud to announce the must-see, epic six-part anthology series FIRES will premiere on Sunday, 26 September, 8.40p.m on ABC TV and ABC iview.

Inspired by true events, FIRES is a serialised anthology about the experiences of everyday people at the front line of the devastating fires of the 2019-2020 Australian summer.

Filmed in Melbourne and regional Victoria earlier this year, the series honours the experiences of the many people affected by these fires. It acknowledges the losses suffered and the ways people came together in the face of a devastating natural disaster.

Beneath the unfathomable scale of the fires and behind the images and the headlines were thousands of stories of people directly affected by the fires. Stories of heartbreak and loss, heroism, humanity, and community.

The series begins in Queensland in September 2019, at the start of the fire season, and continues as the fires make their deadly march south, burning out of control through NSW and Victoria until February 2020.  Each episode is set in a different location as the fires spread and build to a terrifying onslaught across the country through Christmas and New Year.

As the fires grow in intensity and ferocity and threaten different communities, new characters appear, whose stories reflect the breadth of experience during Australia’s black summer. Through the episodes we meet volunteer firefighters, families who have lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones, people who have to make agonising decisions about whether to stay or flee; those escaping homes and once idyllic holiday destinations; and others who find themselves responsible for the lives of friends and strangers.

 FIRES is co-created by Belinda Chayko and Tony Ayres. Chayko (Safe Harbour, Stateless) was also showrunner and lead writer, alongside Jacqueline Perske (The Cry), Mirrah Foulkes (Judy and Punch), Steven McGregor (Mystery Road) and Anya Beyersdorf (Eden). The series is produced by Elisa Argenzio (Lambs of God), with executive producers Tony Ayres (Stateless, The Slap, Glitch), Andrea Denholm (Wrong Kind of Black, How to Stay Married), Liz Watts (The King, True History of the Kelly Gang. Directors on the series are Michael Rymer (Hannibal, Picnic at Hanging Rock), Ana Kokkinos (Seven Types of Ambiguity, The Hunting) and Kim Mordaunt (Wakefield, The Rocket).

Production credits: The series is produced by Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), which is backed by NBCUniversal International Studios and Matchbox Pictures, for the ABC. Major production investment from Screen Australia in association with ABC, with support from Film Victoria through the Victorian Screen Incentive and Regional Location Assistance Fund. Distribution is handled by NBCUniversal Global Distribution. ABC Executive Producers: Sally Riley and Brett Sleigh.

Did it ever live up to the hype! See IMDb.

A scene from the extraordinary last episode of Fires

On Facebook I said: “Did you see the final episode of Tony Ayres’s great series “Fires” on ABC last night? How brilliant it was!” Then I posted this:

That was reality, not the dramatic re-enactment of Fires. Of that, the cast said:

And bringing this back to COP-26, let me replay the video I shared here a few posts back. Not all responses to the fires were worth paying attention to. Anything on Sky News Opinion, for a start.

:And what better way to finish than with one of the great speeches of our time:

This time last year — on fires

I feel (hope!) indications are that this bushfire season will be much less disastrous than the last. Mind you, the rest of the world from the west coast of the USA through to Lebanon/Syria/Israel has been on fire just lately. And we has a bit of a taste just north of here in the Royal National Park over the weekend.

Last October I posted this. The sequel through the rest of 2019 and into 2020 is well known. And then came COVID! I included in that post these pics from 2013 taken here in West Wollongong.

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And in Wollongong, near City Diggers, this sky:

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Photos tagged “spring” — 2

From my mothballed photo blog 2008-2013. Supplemented with later pics from spring seasons since on this blog. Those will often be from other photographers. Like the first one, which is from 13 November 2019.

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And that was just the beginning of sorrow! And now on the west coast of the USA! How long before climate change denialism becomes as respectable as flat earthism? How long?

Now jump back! September 2008, Belmore Park near Sydney Central Station. From here on all the photos in this post are mine.

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Now September 2009: East Redfern — Michael’s orchid.

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September 2010: West Wollongong:

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September 2011: West Wollongong again:

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September 2011: Crown Street Wollongong:

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September 2012: Wollongong City Beach

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September 2013: West Wollongong:

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More spring pics to come….

Back to bushfires again….

Not literally today, which here in The Gong is particularly wet as we are experiencing the effects of the dreaded east coast low.

But you will recall that for almost six months from spring through summer the theme was bushfires. Here are just two pictures from that time, the first from November 2019, the second from December 2019.

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Harrington NSW

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Dargan, near Lithgow NSW  — part of the Gospers Mountain fire

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I raise all this because the ABC has an amazing online feature and set of documentary reports called Anatomy of a ‘mega-blaze’.

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That tree, deep in wild Wollemi National Park, was where it all began — struck by lightning, one strike out of 19.068 during a single spring storm.

“By the end of the Black Summer, the Gospers Mountain blaze accounted for half of the mega-blaze at 512,142ha, the Kerry Ridge blaze 323,900ha, the Little L Complex 169,834, the Three Mile fire 45,944ha, and the Grose Valley fire 19,920ha….”

Just before Christmas 2019:

With catastrophic conditions again forecast for December 21, Premier Berejiklian declared a second State of Emergency.

Thousands of firefighters were now in the field, as strike teams from interstate and overseas joined the battle.

“The first thing you experience is the ember attack,” Mr Burley said.

“It’s like a snowstorm but embers, and then the colour of the sky turns to orange, then dark.

“It’s like sitting in front of an oven.”

Volunteer firefighter Stacey Kent was with her RFS team on the fire’s southern flank, trying to stop it crossing the Hawkesbury River and making a run into Sydney’s northern suburbs.

“Just walls of flame, and like, as far as you could see, from the treetops to the sky was just orange, no matter where you looked,” she said.

“If it crossed the river, it was going to be catastrophic.”

By then, emergency management officials at all levels of government were planning for the worst.

The ABC can reveal extensive preparations were made to evacuate thousands of residents from Sydney’s Hornsby and Hills districts….

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We became accustomed but not inured to signs like that over spring (that one is from spring!) and summer 2019-2020.  I had several relatives affected by this and other blazes — yes, there were other mega-blazes — including my cousin Ray Christison of Lithgow who wrote at the time:

“Big day for an old bloke. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and support. I just want to clarify something. I’m not in the RFS and was working yesterday as a museum volunteer. I have considered joining the RFS over the years but know I would be allocated to a communications role.”

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So do visit that latest ABC offering. I conclude with poet and Blue Mountains resident Mark Roberts who in commending the ABC site on Facebook said:

Remember how Andrew Bolt, Craig Kelly and the hordes of other experts claimed there was an army of arsonists moving across the country lighting magazines as a political act to prove Climate Change? The Gosper’s Mountain fire was started by lightning strike 19,068 in a single storm. Later strikes expanded the fire. I expect the apologies are already being written.

Further to Mark’s comment see Media Watch 3 February 2020.

ROWAN DEAN: Unprecedented bushfires? Unprecedented drought? No, this Australian summer has been the summer of unprecedented stupidity. Never before have we had to suffer such idiocy in public debate and political commentary, nationally and internationally, in relation to two of the most common and predictable occurrences in Australia’s climate cycle, drought and bushfires.  

– Outsiders, Sky News, 26 January, 2020

Hello, I’m Paul Barry, welcome to Media Watch.

And welcome to Groundhog Day, where the loudest voices at News Corp are adamant that the summer’s terrifying bushfires have nothing to do with climate change.

Or, if they have, there’s nothing we can do about it.

And, as always, welcome back to News Corp’s team of hand-picked, highly-paid columnists and TV hosts on Sky, who are leading the chorus:

PETA CREDLIN: So, let me deal with the issue head on. Does climate change cause these fires? No.

– Credlin, Sky News, 20 January, 2020

CHRIS KENNY: … So that’s the key. The drought. And if drought can’t be blamed on climate change you can’t blame the fires on climate change, especially when so many are deliberately lit …

– The Kenny Report, Sky News, 11 December, 2019

ALAN JONES: What’s burning in Victoria are eucalypts. What’s burning in South Australia are eucalypts … When are we going to wake up and stop using this as an excuse to justify the climate change hoax?

– Richo & Jones, Sky News, 29 January, 2019

Passionate denial that the bushfires should make us act on climate change runs right across the Murdoch media in this country reaching an audience of millions….

Yes, Alan Jones, that famous expert on bushfires and climate change, has now left radio 2GB and hawks his voice on Sky In The Dark where he displays his credentials on epidemiology and public health — all backed  by the same rigorous study. Not bad for a fellow BA Dip Ed! I envy him the depth and confidence he brings to those calm and rational conclusions on such knotty matters, as follows.

I have spared you the voice.

The longer politicians fail to mention the vast majority of all coronavirus cases are mild and over 99 per cent of people will recover, the longer “they will deserve the contempt that the public feels towards them” says Sky News host Alan Jones.

Mr Jones said the public are “ropeable and rightly so” over the handling of this virus by our political leaders. He said “Dodgy Dan” won’t answer the questions the public wants answers to.

Neither the Victorian Premier, nor NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, will tell the public “how many of these cases are mild and how many are critical”.

Mr Jones said the best way moving forwards is for Dan Andrews to “resign today,” but instead more fear is being spruiked, this time in the form of the wearing of face masks in the state.

He also added residents in New South Wales are being told to be on “high alert” by Premier Berejiklian. “Well I will tell you who is on high alert … the voter”.

Such ineffable wisdom! Oh bow down, people, before the Mighty Al! Rarely has so little been said so loudly to such maleficent effect!  He really is a master! Of crap….