Local News

Our "duty" to tell people how "climate change is super-charging natural disaster risks"


Former NSW Fire and Rescue chief Greg Mullins has been trying to meet with the Federal Government for months about the dangerous bushfire season we are experiencing. 

Fire conditions have eased today on the Far South Coast, however there is still a total fire ban in place. 

Catastrophic fire conditions were recorded in the Shoalhaven and Illawarra and the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter areas yesterday, as predicted.  

There are still 70 fires burning in NSW, with over half out of control. There are no emergencies on the Far South Coast. 

Yesterday local crews jumped on a small grass fire, believed to have started by powerlines, at Dignams Creek, it is now out. A fire which started late yesterday - not far from prized Gondwanaland forest in the Eurobodalla on River Forest Road - is under control, and a fire which started along Fairview Drive at Lilli Pilli, yesterday afternoon, is out, thanks to the RFS and property owners. 

Meanwhile the enormous scale and intensity of the fatal bushfires sweeping NSW and Queensland is challenging the resources of firefighters, charities, and animal rescue groups. RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says with higher than average temperatures and lower rainfall predicted over coming weeks, relief is not in sight, and it's only spring. 

Former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner Greg Mullins says he and a group of former fire bosses have been trying to talk to the Federal Government about the increasing risk to communities from bushfires. The former commissioner says it's their duty to tell people how climate change is super-charging natural disaster risks. He says this is not the "new normal" and says with the continuing breakdown of the climate due to rising emissions from fossil fuels such as coal, conditions are going to get worse. 

Last month was the hottest October on record globally, with temperatures in many regions well above average. Last week more than 11,000 scientists from around the world issued a grim warning of the "untold suffering" that will be caused by climate change if humanity doesn't change its ways.

Meanwhile Far South Coast residents affected by the recent bushfires in our region will understand the sense of loss and despair being experienced by our neighbours up north.  About 170 homes have been lost over the last week. Three people have lost their lives, many others have been injured. Gemma Plesman's family has lost four houses on their property near Grafton, and Gemma says friends along their stretch of road have also lost their homes.  Gemma has told The Guardian the people who are struggling to survive want everyone to know this is a climate emergency. She says they want people to know they've never experienced anything like the current disaster.

Most organisations are calling for financial donations - rather than donated goods. The Rural Fire Service, Salvation Army, Red Cross and St Vincents are among the organisations accepting donations. Go Fund Me campaigns are also taking off. The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital estimates as many as 350 of the endangered marsupials have died in the fires, and is raising funds through Go Fund Me to buy and distribute drinking stations to reduce further koala deaths from dehydration.  

Far South Coast firies and support staff remain deployed up north.  While RFS crews were back in the region on standby yesterday national parks and forestry fire fighters and SES support staff remain in the fire zones and are returning fatigued, and feeling powerless that their best hasn't been good enough to counter the catastrophic conditions. 

Associate professor Janet Stanley is the principal research fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at Melbourne University and lost her home in the Mt Macedon fires in 1983.  She says scientists and meteorologists have for years warned of more frequent and extreme bushfires as climate change worsens. She says if the Morrison Government seriously wanted fewer Australians to experience a bushfire crisis, it would use the current situation to galvanise public sentiment, shift the political agenda, and make meaningful inroads into emissions reduction.