The Victorian bushfires have shown again how entangled are the destinies of all of us alive today. The fires are directly connected to climate change, as Freya Mathews elegantly explained in her letter to the Editor of The Age. An ecological humanities perspective acknowledges the entangled accountability of human beings in this, and other, anthropogenic 'natural disasters'. We are brought into a space of grief: for the suffering and loss across so many kinds of living beings, and for our own involvement - sharing the suffering but also acknowledging our very real responsibilities.
Alongside this awareness and the need that it prompts for urgent and drastic action to address climate change, an ethics of accountability in multi-species communities impels us to hold open a space for mourning. A part of this mourning will surely work toward understanding direct and indirect causes, and working to prevent future suffering and death. Another part, however, encounters and acknowledges the fact that our culture of modernity and calculation does not articulate paths for mourning such extreme loss. We must, perhaps, remain in silence, pausing for a moment to 'simply' mourn.
"We need to be wary of ‘national’ fire plans and to develop ecologically sensitive, bioregional fire survival strategies. We need to move beyond an undifferentiated, colonial sense of ‘the bush’ as an amorphous sameness with which we do battle, and instead empower local residents and their knowledge of local ecologies. The quest for national guidelines was fatal for the residents of these Victorian mountain communities on such a day; it worked insidiously to blunt their sense of local history and ecological distinctiveness. Clearing the backyard, cleaning the gutters and installing a better water pump cannot save an ordinary home in the path of a surging torrent of explosive gas in the fire flume."
"We have still not lived long enough"
Tom Griffiths - We have still not lived long enough (on Inside Story)
Freya Mathews - Fires the deadly inevitability of climate change
Steve Pyne - Black Saturday: The Sequel
Clive Hamilton - Is this Australia's Future?
Richard Macey (quoting David Jones, BoM) - This drought may never break
Peter Marshall - Face global warming or lives will be at risk
Tom Griffiths - Interview on Bush Telegraph