Sunday, February 22, 2009

The fires of climate change

Yahoo7!.au (Australia): Victorian taxpayers are about to fund a full-scale royal commission into the catastrophic bushfires of February 7 in which 208 people - probably more - were burnt to death.

There will be no blame. Everything will be on the table: the adequacy of prescribed preventative burning or hazard reduction; the lethal crime of arson; escape clearways; warning alarm systems; 'go or stay' risk assessment and evacuation procedures; fireproof bunkers; planning regulations; building codes; the adequacy of fire fighting resources; and the usefulness of the forest fire danger index.

Submissions from everyone will be welcomed. Such is the local and national trauma and grief that the inquiry is expected to be therapeutic for those who need and want to tell their stories and those who listen to them.

It may be a year to 18 months before the royal commission completes its work. It is significant to note that two stakeholder groups have already come to concluded views: the 13,000 professional firefighters of Australia and the Climate Institute, which commissions scientific research in Australia into fires and global atmospheric warming.

Climate Institute CEO John Connor told Stateline NSW (on February 20, 2009) that in his organisation's concluded view: "These are the fires of climate change that we've seen in Victoria and perhaps indeed in Port Lincoln in South Australia in 2005. Climate change is not just about warmer weather. It's about wilder weather. Climate change costs ... climate change kills"….

Daybreak in Wodonga, Victoria, shot by Phillip Capper, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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