Tuesday, March 10, 2009

~ a clear path through the maelstrom

Hello, once more, again, after so long.

There have been all kinds of reasons why I’ve been silent, but probably most importantly I’ve been rethinking what this blog is about. I’ve learnt the hard way that more delicacy is required when discussing personal matters, so for better or worse, I’m going to steer away from them. I have a tendency to say imprudent things at inappropriate times, and it appears that I’ve carried it along with me into this medium … in spades …

That aside, I’m going to keep my posts shorter this time around. That way the blog won’t weigh too heavily on my other writing responsibilities. Single topic. Not too much digression.

My novel is going well by the way. I’m just about adhering to my page a day regimen. And I’m immersed. Living half my life here, half in the strange world of Nonesuch.


Some worrisome attitudes have been revealed in our reactions to the apocalyptic Victorian bushfires. In the aftermath, with some celerity, and true to human nature, people sought someone or something to blame. Arsonists, naturally, were the first to come into their sights. Those arrested were afforded special protective measures.

A clear second were the ‘environmentalists’ in local councils who prevented landowners from clearing native vegetation in proximity to their dwellings. I read of the outrage of one person who was not allowed to cut back grasses along the front of his property. Another, who had had been fined tens of thousands of dollars for illegally felling hundred of trees on his land, claimed to the media that he was vindicated and should be returned the money. One more suggested that, as a future rule, vegetation be cut back to however many metres from all public roads. [Recall that many roadside easements provide a refuge and throughway for native flora and fauna].

As victims, they could speak from a high moral ground. Suddenly, they no longer felt constrained by political correctness and, in emotional extremis, brought their bugbears to light. But these opinions are no less thoughtless or misguided because their owners have suffered. Demands such as these, coming from devastated people, ought never be appeased at the expense of a correct response. I sincerely hope that terrible decisions are not made in response to these people’s terrible sufferings.

To paraphrase The Age, climate change did not cause the bushfires, however it did make them more likely to happen, and to be more severe. As part of our response to climate change, the environmental lobby seeks to minimise our destructive effect on the environment. We must learn to live peacefully and equitably with the natural world, as we depend on it and are naturally a part of it.

If we are to house ourselves beyond the cities, in the midst of nature, as did the people of Flowerdale or King Lake, then rather than gouge out a sterile safe zone, we should seek to have as little impact as possible. What is the point of living amongst that beauty if your presence is a defacement? Rather than alter or destroy the flora and fauna in order to shield ourselves against a natural process such as fire – we should be building structures that are either fireproof or disposable, and making sensible plans for our own safety.

Idealistic, I suppose, but the truth as I see it. No human action could have prevented or caused the holocaust that day, fed by extreme winds, unreasonable heat and a bone dry land. Lessons are sure to be learned in time, but no credence should be given uninformed opinions or short-sighted prejudices. The environmentalists are not putting trees above people – in working to preserve the ecology which sustains us, they are working to preserve the future, the common good.

It is wrong to lay blame at their feet.

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princey said...

Welcome back Sam, I knew you'd write something that finally makes sense about those bushfires.

Great news about you're book too. Any music news about those Beargarden releases yet?

Love Amanda

Bwca said...

Rolf Boldrewood in his 1886 collection of 'Memories of old Melbourne' describes a fire exactly the same as February 7th's.

No 'Greenies' then, no ozone layer.

Good to see you spring back to life like gumtips on a blackened trunk!

lily was here said...

nice to have you back at last sam x

The Knitting Songbird said...

Good to see you back, Sam.

Sam Sejavka said...

Not too much standing in the way of the Beargarden release. I'm pushing at it now.