Almost five years to the day after Black Saturday, Victoria finds itself in the grip of another bushfire emergency.
Thankfully there are no reported deaths, however at least 20 homes have been destroyed. The fires have caused major disruption, skirting the northern suburbs and putting the Hazelwood power station at risk.
The Age is providing excellent coverage on their website.
We must now come to terms with the fact that each summer is now a season of purgatory.
Summer is not merely the season to catch the Boxing Day test or escape to the beach. It is now a time to anxiously watch the weather and scan the horizon for the tell-tale signs of a fire.
This is the “New Australian Summer”.
Sure, some summers will be less extreme than others.
But as global temperatures continue to rise (in response to increasing quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere) we can expect the fires to come with greater frequency and ferocity.
As I have noted it is time we began discussions adapting to these changed conditions.
Several strategies come to mind:
- a phased strategic retreat from at risk areas in the state (or country)
- a greater investment in emergency services and management
- changes to planning and development
- changes to infrastructure.
With little doubt, by the middle of this century our hands will be forced.
Now is the time to start the conversation.