We experienced the beginnings of planetary collapse at first hand in Australia during Black Summer.
The fires were first detected in June 2019, but were only finally fully under control by early April 2020. They affected every state and territory in the country, with 3000 homes or buildings destroyed, 33 human lives lost, and 3 billion animals killed or displaced1.
100 fireys came from overseas to help out. Rural Fire Service volunteers were working 30-day straight blocks. One of the volunteers said she was too busy and exhausted to wash her one and only uniform. This meant her toddler refused to be cuddled by her during these blocks, because she was filthy, and the smell on her clothing just freaked him out too much.
A blind couple living in Dapto realised that, because their kids were too young to drive, they had no way of leaving if they had to evacuate: the rail lines were down, and fires were coming up from Jervis Bay, down from Helensburgh National Park, and inland from the Southern Highlands. They still check the ‘Fires near me’ app at least twice a week.
In the south coast town of Cobargo, Kath and Rachel lost their home on New Year’s Eve. Five months later, they still had no running water, no power, no warm clothing, and lived in a caravan. In fact, many people remain homeless still, living through covid in a tent.
20-year-old Zoe told Scott Morrison to f**k off, and that she wouldn’t shake hands until he gives more money to the RFS. She said she’d happily have sat and had a cuppa with him if only he’d bothered to ask if she was ok. She’d lost her house the day before.
In Mogo Zoo, the zookeepers brought its’ residents into their kitchens and garages, saving all the zoo critters A supermarket opened for 2 hours with a borrowed generator, so families could quickly grab bread and milk for the kids. All done in the dark, then they ran for cover, or evacuated. In Lake Conjola, Batemans Bay, Mallacoota, and many other coastal towns, people just could not leave, so waited for hours in the sea as fires roared over them. The evacuation of a thousand souls from Mallacoota by sea is the biggest peacetime evacuation ever undertaken in Australia.
At the ABC building in Dixon, ACT, smoke alarms would not stop blaring. All over the state, the air quality index registered 11 times above hazardous warning level: equivalent to breathing in smoke from 30 cigarettes a day. This means every newborn baby’s body started puffing on fags.
1 WWF Report: 3 billion animals impacted by Australia’s bushfire crisis. Published 28th July 2020, accessed on 10th February via this link: https://www.wwf.org.au/news/news/2020/3-billion-animals-impacted-by-australia-bushfire-crisis