World News – AU – Bushfire Royal Commission recommendations must address climate change, say survivors and firefighters


After Nick Hopkins’ house in Malua Bay was burnt down on New Years Eve, he was unable to return to live on the fringes of the bush he loves so much

« We don’t want to risk this anymore because once in a lifetime is enough, » said M Hopkins

In the weeks following the fires, he stood in the smoldering ruins of his home and wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to take climate change more seriously

M Hopkins – and others who lived through the fires – hope climate change will somehow be addressed in the findings of the Royal Commission on National Disaster Arrangements released on Friday morning

The royal commission was convened following the Black Summer fires, which killed 33 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes

An estimated 3 billion animals were killed or displaced by the fires, which burned between 24 and 40 million hectares of land

The fires have caused more than $ 2 billion in insured losses alone, while the economic impact on tourism, hospitality, agriculture and forestry has been estimated at around $ 3$ 6 billion There may have been an additional $ 2 billion in health care costs – partly due to respiratory illnesses caused by smoke

M Hopkins hopes he will bring out the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions

« For me there really needs to be a strong recognition at all levels of government and in all agencies that the driving force behind the severity of these fires was climate change, » Mr. Hopkins

« It’s like a burning house – you don’t move slowly or even moderately to put out the fire in a burning house, you move as fast as you can »

David Darlington, retired NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service regional director and member of the Jindabyne Rural Fire Service, agrees

« We really hope the royal commission will say, ‘Hey government, hey community, everyone needs to do a lot more to reduce our emissions,' » Mr. Darlington

M Darlington – a member of the Independent Bushfire Group – has been fighting fires for almost 40 years and has never seen conditions like the Snowy Mountains this summer

« Normally you see fires calm down and not move at all during the night, whereas this year we just saw fires even at 2am the fire department was saying ‘It’s really hard to contain, you know, it should be it should be a lot, a lot easier, « he said

Tim Shepherd, former regional director of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the NSW Far South Coast who is also part of the Independent Bushfire Group, has said in the past that he is wary of linking individual fires to climate change

« I think it is now inescapable that climate change is a driver of catastrophic fires here and that we just need to address the underlying issues in a fundamental way, so I hope the committee recognizes that », said M Shepherd

He also hoped the commission would recommend firefighters tackle fires sooner, by winching strike teams in remote areas as soon as an ignition is detected by satellites

« Most, not all of the major fires in NSW and elsewhere were lightning, and sometimes people got there early but due to the conditions he couldn’t get the crews to the ground and they turned into various large fires, ”he said

« Overall, if we could find ways, during these years of catastrophic fires, to reduce the number of fires to fight, it will be a fundamental improvement in every way »

M Darlington said there was a need for dedicated helicopters and firefighters « who do nothing but respond to fires from a distance »

« Last summer, we believe that if these additional resources had been available and if we had not had this massive amount of smoke, many fires that turned into mega-fires would likely have been extinguished over the course of of the early days « , M Darlington told me

« We’re going to see more of what we had last summer at some point, and it won’t be this summer, but these weather conditions are going to happen again, so we have to be prepared for that »

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Australia bushfires, climate change, royal commission

World news – AU – Royal commission on bushfires recommendations must address climate change, say survivors and firefighters
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