Statement by Geoffrey Heard to the Greenleap list
The very first statement that the Commission needs to make is that these fires were not the result of “prolonged drought” or a “ten year drought”, which implies exceptional departures from the norm. Nor were they “once in 100 year events”. Instead, they are the result of climate change. We are not in drought, we are not experiencing weather as exceptional as “once in 100 year event” suggests. We are in a well forecast and well documented general drying of the south-east of our country due to climate change. We are in times that are normal for the future or even relatively moderate compared with future forecasts.
To respond to the bushfires, then, we must respond on a massive scale to climate change.
So the major macro level change would be:
* Take all appropriate steps to to attack the causes of climate change and ameliorate its effects.
As I see it, one of the major macro problems highlighted by the fires is the threat to our water supply. Our water catchments are just too damned small. A major fire IN CLIMATE CHANGE CONDITIONS can wipe significant parts of our catchments out in a couple of days.
So it is an absolute necessity that we act to safeguard water:
* Enlarge all water catchments immediately (aim: double them within next 10 years, treble within 15 years).
— Buy more abandoned farmland and plant to mixed forest.
— Make private landholders ‘water farmers’ by paying them to plant and grow mixed forest in catchment areas.
* Move immediately to fully recycling of water.
* Move immediately to harvest high quality water at source in cities, ie. support the installation of LARGE tanks to harvest water from every roof.
* Move immediately to retain water that falls to the ground in cities, i.e. instead of draining Melbourne out to sea, drain it to wetlands, holding basins, existing aquifers, and in the sandbelt areas, straight into the ground.
* Stop all logging of native forests immediately. (There is more than enough plantation wood available.)
The desalination plant? Relying on brown coal? We must attack the sources of global warming. We don’t need it anyway if we take all other steps.
And, of course, the emissions trading scheme must be abandoned forthwith and a proper emissions reduction taxation system put in place.
In the micro area, brave stuff needs to be said about house sizes, the building code, and so on.
Geoffrey Heard is the Publisher, Editor & Business Writer for The Worsley Press