Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
Tammy’s views are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Eagle, his pastor, Tammy’s neighbors, Wayne Mayo, Betsy Johnson, Joe Corsiglia, President Trump, Henry Heimuller, VP Pence, Pat Robertson, Debi Corsiglia’s dog, or Claudia Eagle’s Cats. This Tammy’s Take (with the exception of this disclaimer) is not paid for or written by, or even reviewed by anyone but Tammy and she refuses to be bullied by anyone.
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A Billion animals have perished from these fires. Please send a small donation to the
charity of your choice to help with the survivors recovery.
By Tammy Maygra
The fires in Australia have been burning for months, consuming nearly 18 million acres of land, causing thousands to evacuate and killing potentially millions of animals. They're showing minimal signs of slowing down.
But a 50,000-year-old solution could exist: Aboriginal burning practices. They can feel the grass and know if it would burn well; they knew what types of fires to burn for what types of land, how long to burn, and how frequently. Aboriginal techniques are based in part on fire prevention: ridding the land of fuel, like debris, scrub, undergrowth and certain grasses. The fuel alights easily, which allows for more intense flames that are harder to fight.
The Aboriginal people would set small-scale fires that weren't too intense and clear the land of the extra debris. The smaller intensity fires would lessen the impact on the insects and animals occupying the land, too, as well as protect the trees and the canopy.
But these techniques are very hard to do, when is the best time of the year to burn, how much, its hard to set a small fire, and what plants would get destroyed. n Australia, fires that are too hot actually allows the flammable undergrowth to germinate more.
When early Europeans tried to copy Aboriginal techniques by lighting fires, they made the fires too hot, and got even more of the flammable scrub. So, they tried again. And again.
"Even though people can see the Aborigines doing the fire control, and could see the benefits, they couldn't copy it," Where the Aboriginal people are in charge, they're not having big fires. In the south, where white people are in charge, they are having the problems.
Climate change only worsens the conditions for fires. Droughts and hotter weather only make for more intense fires and longer fire seasons — changes that are already being observed worldwide. Under worsening conditions, fires are harder to put out: They grow too big to get to safely, and even aerial suppression isn't necessarily possible because of the wind.
Areas that have undergone preventative burning lead to less intense fires. But the problem is, under the worst of conditions, the fire will still be able to burn straight through the land, despite any preventative measures.
What Australians should really learn from the Aboriginal people is custodianship over the land, the way Aboriginal people deeply know and care for the land is something Australians should ponder and embrace. While the Aboriginal way costs more because its labor intensive but because everything boils down to cost—fighting fires included --you have to do and use what you get the bigger bang for your buck.
Natural causes are to blame most of the time, like lightning strikes in drought-affected forests. Dry lightning was responsible for starting a number of fires in Victoria's East Gippsland region in late December, which then traveled more than 12.4 miles in just five hours, Humans can also be to blame. NSW police have charged at least 24 people with deliberately starting bushfires, and have taken legal action against 183 people for fire-related offenses since November, according to the police.
In total, more than 17.9 million acres have been burned across Australia's six states -- an area larger than the countries of Belgium and Denmark combined. The worst-affected state is NSW, with more than 12.1 million acres burned.
To put that into perspective, the 2019 Amazon rainforest fires burned more than 17.5 million acres, according to Brazilian officials. In California, which is known for its deadly wildfires, just over 247,000 acres burned in 2019, and about 1 million acres in 2018.
A billion animals have died because of these fires. The figures for NSW include birds, reptiles, and mammals, except bats. It also excludes insects and frogs, so the real sum is almost certain to be higher, the ecologists said.
Almost a third of koalas in NSW may have been killed in the fires, and a third of their habitat has been destroyed, Some species, like koalas, aren't in any immediate danger of extinction because they are spread out across the country, said the university ecologists. But others that live in more niche environments with lower populations, including certain types of frogs and birds, could be wiped out entirely if their habitats are hit by the fires.
There are more than 2,000 firefighters working on the ground in NSW alone, and more support is on the way -- the US, Canada, and New Zealand have sent additional firefighters to help. Military assistance has come as well, like army personnel, air force aircraft, and navy cruisers for firefighting, evacuation, search and rescue, and clean-up efforts.
When will these fires end? Hopefully soon as January and February is the where temperatures peak. But with recent trends it looks like fires will, become more and more common and deadly.
If Australia’s fires don’t put a scare into you, then nothing will. The pacific Northwest could suffer the same devastation if we continue on this dry patterns.