Black January: Australia’s month of heat and wildfires and the “lived experience” of climate extremes

NSW fires: image from FaceBook user

NSW fires: image from FaceBook user

Worrying news from New South Wales:

Rural fire crews are responding to dozens of fires across the state, as Premier Barry O’Farrell warns residents to prepare for what could be the worst fire danger day in the state’s history on Tuesday. 

I’m presently caught up with work and real life commitments and not able to write a post today. However, watching events unfold these past two weeks the following thoughts occurred to me:

  • Barely a week into January and it is already shaping up to be an extraordinary month for weather extremes: record temperatures, devastating fires and a heat wave gripping the entire continent
  • Australia has a tradition of naming its worst fire days “Black days” – extreme conditions are extending for greater periods over the Australian continent and creating overlapping fire tragedies: they are being woven into Black Weeks and Black Months
  • The “worst” is yet to come – if you’re Australian you fully appreciate the fire season will last for several more months, thus extending the potential for extremes of heat and bushfires
  • Australia’s fire season is getting longer and the fires themselves are getting worse – trust me, every fire fighter knows this. I was ever so briefly a volunteer fire fighter and never fought a major blaze – but it has been common knowledge for years.

Hence the tentative name for this month – Black January.

Call me alarmist if you will. Perhaps it is far to early to apply such nomenclature – and I very much hope to be wrong. But all indicators are deeply troubling.

Another thought:

  • Should such conditions and the frequency of fires extend for the next several months it may have an impact on the public’s understanding of the science and reshape climate politics much like hurricane Sandy did in the United States. As always, the visceral, lived experience of climate change is what convinces the ordinary member of the public of its reality.

Stay safe if you’re anywhere near these regions.

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4 thoughts on “Black January: Australia’s month of heat and wildfires and the “lived experience” of climate extremes

  1. […] (New South Wales especially) prepares for a Black January. Black January: Australia’s month of heat and wildfires and the “lived experience” … Sign in or Register Now to […]

  2. Richard Ryan says:

    Bushfires in Australia … what next? Snow in the Rockies?

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Richard, this is far too early in fire season for these kind of fires. And we’ve just had the record heat wave. As predicted.

      • crank says:

        One notices from the denialist morons that no disaster or string of them will affect the concrete between their ears until they themselves are impacted. Then they will wail in self-pity, look for scapegoats to vent their hatred upon and begin confabulating alibies for their previous lies. The Rightwing psychopathology never varies in its malignancy, and, as we can see, its perennial supremacy in human affairs has landed us on the very edge of the precipice (in fact we tumbled over ten or fifteen years ago, but are still kidding ourselves).

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