In this episode of the Goss, I chat with my father Ian Smissen about the week’s news in Australia and Australia’s worst-ever bushfire season.
The Goss - Bushfires.mp3 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2020.
G'day you mob, and a welcome to the very first episode of The Goss. Guys, this is something that I have decided to put together with my father, Ian Smissen, where we'll be discussing each week's news and current affairs from Down Under in Australia. Sorry, the whole point of this series will be to educate you guys about what's happening currently in Australia and also help you discuss these things with other people in English, right. You can listen to these episodes. You can learn the vocab, you can improve your comprehension of these issues and develop your own opinions. So today I sit down with my dad and we have a good old chinwag about the bush fire crisis in Australia that's happening at the moment. That seemed like the best story to do for the very start of The Goss series. Anyway, guys. I know you're going to love this episode, so sit back, relax, grab yourselves a cuppa, get a cup of tea or a cup of coffee and let's get into it.
Alright. So, Dad, g'day, welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
G'day Pete, good to be back.
It's good to have you here.
Yeah. Well, cheers, given the weather outside.
I know. So, get your drinks open. I guess I don't know if you're going to have that Kombucha or not.
Yeah, why not?
So this is going to be the first episode, I guess, of something like "Chinwags with Dad." I don't know what we'll call it.
Sure we'll come up with a worse name than that.
But, the basic idea is-.
Oh this one's good. Hang on, what have we got here? Surprising me.
The Kombucha? Yeah.
Yeah. Apple, pear and ginger.
Yeah. It's not bad. Especially with, no sugar, so it's nice and dry.
So today the whole point was talking about... Well I guess the whole point of these episodes was to talk about current affairs, things going on in Australia, because you're a fountain of knowledge.
And very hard to stop talking as well!
What I don't know, I just make up! Leave it to your listeners to work out the truth.
They can Google it afterwards. But I thought it'd be a good excuse to one have another speaker on the podcast and obviously have banter about the things going on in Australia. This week we were going to try and come up with a few stories, but there doesn't really seem to be much else.
Just one story at the moment.
Yeah. And so I guess we're going to be talking about the bush fire crisis in Australia the moment. So I guess to give a bit of background to people, it started in... What..? I've got some notes here. September last year.
By the end of spring, right? 2019.
September in southeast Queensland, Northern New South Wales. It's just really just following its way south as the summer has kicked in. It's certainly the earliest that I can remember. There will always be debates, and depending on which side of the political fence you sit, whether they're defending themselves or the opposition attacking the government. The words 'worst', 'hottest' and so on will keep coming out. But certainly in my 60 years of living in Australia, I can't remember a bush fire season starting in the middle of spring.
And you've lived through obviously quite a few of these like...
Four or five major bush fire seasons, not just with single bad fires, which happen every year, but seasons where we have, you know, millions of hectares that are being burnt out and people losing lives and significant loss of property and wildlife and livestock and so on.
So some of these include Ash Wednesday, which was before I was born.
Yeah, it while it was the Ash Wednesday, I was actually on our honeymoon, your mum and dad on our honeymoon.
And so I might have been on the way?
No, you weren't. You're a few years after that. Look, we can talk about that if you... sort of... mental note to talk about that because of some interesting stories, just the human interest type stories that have come out of our experience of that.
Because I remember growing up always hearing about Ash Wednesday, I was there in there. But that that was like, you know, a big thing with... What were the stats from Ash Wednesday? Like dozens of people who died.
Dozens of people died. Hundreds of houses. And again, it's the scale, you know, obviously the personal tragedies. You know, One person dies. It's a tragedy. But and the loss of livestock, property, houses and so on is always tragic. But I think when it starts to be across multiple states. Ash Wednesday was South Australia and Victoria. And so you have multiple fire fronts that are just creating these sort of huge balls of smoke that last for weeks. Yeah. And then it's the same now. We had it similar in 2009.
So that was Black Saturday.
That was Black Saturday. And that was the hottest I have ever remembered. You know, we had the hottest temperature in the world that day in Melbourne. 52 degrees in the southwest suburbs of Melbourne, and that's just unheard of. And it was one percent humidity. So that's the problem that we have with bush fires, obviously every year in summer, there are going to be fires because it gets hot and dry. But when you have those extreme temperatures, extreme dryness over a long period of time, it just means you've got a huge amount of fuel and all it requires is one spark, whether it's accidentally lit, deliberately lit, whether it's come out of summer storms. Dry lightning, as they call it, is a huge cause of their eyes. Unfortunately, one of the biggest causes. Idiots: People lighting fires either accidentally or deliberately. But yeah.
And malfunction with our technology. Right. Especially the electrical grid.
And yeah. Yeah. And there's been a few cases of that happening.
So what how has it changed from when you were growing up. So you remember there obviously being a bush fire season and every year, you know, there were always bush fires.
There's always bush fires, and then every decade or so there's a sort of major conflagration like we have at the moment. But this one is I think it's really the earliest, because typically our bush fire season was late January through to March, the end of summer,.
Because this summer would've dried everything out, right?
whereas we've had probably two and a half decades of cyclical drought in south eastern Australia. Not every location has been in drought for 25 years. But you remember what we were like 10 years ago in southern Victoria. We were in drought for 10 years.
Well, that was when we had water restriction.
Yeah, huge water restrictions.
I remember not being allowed to wash your cars on certain days at certain times.
Where we were living, You couldn't wash cars at all. You couldn't wash houses. You couldn't water the garden unless you had Tank or bore water. You couldn't use mains water for anything other than just normal household usage or commercial usage if you were in a business. Yeah. So those sort of things have happened. But when the drought broke where we are, it really just moved north. And so New South Wales and southern Queensland and parts of South Australia have been in drought for the last 10 years. And we're talking about in some places where it has not rained for ten years. Not... there has been... Yeah, typically by definition, the usual working definition of a drought Is that less than the annual rainfall on average annual rainfall. And if you have that in multiple years, it's considered to be a drought. But we're talking about no rain, not just less rain.
So I'm sure a lot of listeners are going to be thinking, why does that happen here in Australia? Why are there these places where it doesn't rain for so long?
Yeah, well we're yeah, we're talking about places that in a human time frame as in since Indigenous Australians have been here. So we're talking 50000 plus years. Those areas have transitioned from being grasslands through to desert and that desert is expanding as well as our climate has changed. over the last 20 or 30 years though with these significant droughts, we're talking about farmland that has traditionally been in, you know, getting rainfall every year and you can grow crops and so on. Sometimes they are in irrigation areas, sometimes they're not. But now we're getting those places in areas where there's just no rain and those places are not in real danger of fire because there's nothing to burn. But what that means in places where there are forests and traditionally forests require a fair amount of rainfall. But if you to a place where it hasn't rained for months over winter, which would typically at winter, spring would typically be our wettest months in those areas. You've got places where it hasn't rained for months and then it starts to get hot. All of the undergrowth is either dead or dry. And so all you need is a spark and it goes. And eucalypt forest, which is most of our forests, eucalypt forests, because of the oil in eucalyptus leaves explode into flames.
And that's an adaptation, right? So that they burn quicker so the plants don't die themselves.
Usually. But when you're getting we're getting temperatures in these fires because of the amount of material that is burning in them that is just beyond that comparison.
Well some of the insane stuff to jump into the human stories in this was that I've seen on the news say cars that had aluminium engines or parts of the engine that were aluminium or the wheels. The hubs on the cars, aluminium, just melted onto the ground everywhere. Running down the hill. Looks like a mercury or something.
Yeah. So if you're getting temperatures over a thousand degrees Celsius in these fires and they're burning for so long in places because there's enough fuel for them to burn, it's not like they just blast through when they're gone in seconds or minutes. They're burning for hours. And so that yeah, it's ridiculous the damage that is being done.
Well, there was another story of someone, I think out in East Gippsland who had a kiln, they made pottery and they left the pottery outside of the kiln in order... to before it had been. What's the word?
Fired. Right. And then it was naturally fired by the bush fire. So when they came back, the pottery that was clay wet clay prior to that was ceramic. Because of the heat. So some of the stats, I guess we've lost 16 million acres, which is 70- Sorry, almost 65000 square kilometres. Right. Which is sort of the equivalent of the south southern portion of Great Britain. Two thirds of England.
So to put that in context, almost the size of Belgium, I think someone was saying, yes, it was massive. Right. You know, it's equivalent. And I remember them talking about...
It's as big as about a third of the states in The United States.
As big as or bigger than any of those individually.
Yeah, it's insane. And when we were worried about the Amazon burning, that was I think now it's probably about a tenth of what Australia has lost. What was going on with the Amazon. So we've had probably half a billion animals were likely...
Vertebrates. Yeah. Exactly. Not insects or plants. Two and a half thousand buildings, including thirteen hundred houses. Twenty 25 people have died. Six people are still missing in Victoria. And then we have the obviously the smoke and air quality issues. We've got smoke reaching news. New Zealand.
Yeah. Across 2000 kilometres of sea. Look, Where we are, we're hundreds of kilometres from the major fires in South Australia and eastern Victoria. But you look at your window at the moment, we've got a visibility of probably 400 metres.
Yeah. So that was only I wasn't expecting that. But then when I obviously realised that Kangaroo Island and some other places in South Australia are up in flames, as of, you know, a week or so ago, that smoke...
Because typically our weather comes from the West.
And so that air mass will move over from the west. But then we get daily on whichever direction the wind is going. That will come in as well in the moment. Very still. So I think it's that air mass coming in from South Australia.
Yeah. It was very funny waking up this morning and Kel's like Can you smell the smoke? And I'm like can't inside. And then as soon as I went outside and I was like, wow, it smells like someone's burning a fire in their backyard or something. So Sydney's been covered in haze for weeks as well. And Canberra now. I looked this up this morning. So the normal air quality index were however they measure that is numerically that safe is 66, 200 is hazardous. And Canberra has peaked at 7700 and is worse than Delhi in India. Lahore, Pakistan. And Shenyang in China. And that's just crazy.
So, you know, what's that, 66 times or no, 33 times worse than that is safe. And Chris Moy, chair of the Australian Medical Association's Ethics and Medico Legal Committee, has said that there are already people probably dying from smoke inhalation, those who are already at the end of lung capacity issues.
Yeah, and that's probably a good sort of prompt to talk about what people can do in these circumstances.
In terms of smoke,.
Well, In terms of How do you cope with bush fires? Now, obviously, if you're just your average person living in a city like Canberra, a middle sized city, it's nearly 300000 people.
Yeah, it's bigger than Geelong.
You're not expecting to be directly affected by fire? There have been fires in Canberra because Canberra has got a lot of bushland and stuff around it. But if you're living in a suburban area, you don't expect to be directly affected. But all of a sudden, you're living with the equality that people can die from. And so you need to take the appropriate precautions for that. And that's typically not in somebody's fire plan, because you're not you don't have a fire plan if you live in suburbia, typically.
Well, that's us here, right?
Yeah. We're never going to suffer directly from a bush fire here. There's no bush. We've had fires in the, you know, the last remnant of bush on the Bellarine Peninsula, which is two kilometres from us. Yeah, but all you saw was a bit of smoke in the air because it's not significant in size. But we can be affected by fires hundreds of kilometres away by air quality. So that's a matter of knowing your own medical conditions that are likely to be affected. Typically, people with respiratory disease and asthma being the most problematic one because asthma is typically triggered by a whole lot of things. But particulates in the air are one of those common ones.
Well, we had that maybe a year or two ago where we had massive dust storms, right? Yeah. Were coming eastwards towards the larger cities. And there were some tragic stories of, say, I remember a young girl of sixteen years old dying on her front yard because she had an asthma attack from the dust in the air.
And that one was exacerbated as well by dry lightning. Yeah, because lightning affects the... And I'm not an astrophysicist here, but lightning and thunder, obviously, thunder is what we hear. Lightning is the actual event. It affects the quality of the air by doing something to the particulates as well. I think, you know, it electrifies them and they clump together. So the particulates get larger. Yeah. And that's something that, you know I'm asthmatic, but I've never heard of it.
So it's like a static electricity right? Making things attracted to one another?
Yeah it is. So the problems that you have in the atmosphere get worse. All of a sudden now that's something we're getting warnings for asthmatics that come out saying, look, there is thunderstorm activity. And if that thunderstorm activity is coincident with already having smoke or smog in the air, then it is likely to affect people.
It's very bizarre, though, isn't it, because it's kind of like the smoke isn't something most people plan for, as you say. And it's almost like I know you with your parents. Both of your parents were heavy smokers. And as a result, you never smoked, but you suffered from asthma.
Likely, At least it was exacerbated by that.
Yeah. And everyone knows second hand smoke is a big deal, right? You wouldn't smoke inside a car with the window shop with your kids in the back, at least most people. But that's almost what's happening here with bush fires. And that the average person like me who thinks, ah, well, the bush fires aren't going to affect me because there's no bush here to burn. You forget that the smoke is quote unquote, like second hand cigarette smoke, which could just, you know, linger over th-... Like if I were living in Canberra. The fires aren't there, but you're inhaling probably the equivalent of a pack or two a day, if you just go outside.
Enormous amounts of particulate matter.
Yeah. Yeah, that's crazy. So Do you want to switch gears on to climate change?
And talk about I guess from when you were younger, was climate change a worry? Was it associated with the bush fire season? Was there anything going around where you were worried about that, exacerbating things at a time?
Not really from my memory, the first times that we started, I used to be a high school science teacher. So the first time we started to think and talk about human induced climate change was in the late 1970s, early 1980s. So when I was a child in the 60s, we didn't think about climate change. We didn't even think about looking at data to see if there was any climate change. You just expected that there would be differences annually. And those differences we plus or minus the norm, which is what climate is. It's just the averaging of weather. And so we didn't really think about that. But now where obviously highly concerned about these things and... But climate change doesn't cause bush fire. What does is an individual bush fire. Yeah, because climate change is averaging.
And that's like saying, though, that argument to where people say, well, climate change isn't responsible for this bush fire, that's kind of like, well, any single cigarette isn't responsible for your cancer.
Yeah, exactly. Or at least the one that did, you can't identify because it happened 20 years ago. But when we start to talk about where we've got bush fire seasons over the last few years have been starting in early to mid-spring where we have drought that is just much more significant that has been occurring in Australia, where we have areas in the country where it hasn't rained for months, where you would have expected significant amounts of rainfall. And that means that you just get hotter and drier summers and that means any bush fire that occurs is going to be larger and more dramatic.
Yeah, that's right. So when did you start noticing that? Or at least when did the public sort of when did it reach the Zeitgeist, I guess, of people realising that climate change is actually going to have a significant effect on even Australians, whether or not, you know, sea level change and all of that sort of, let's say, living as bush fires now,.
Whereas living rising was the first one that that people talked about. And yes, there are places in Australia that will be affected by rising sea levels directly. Obviously, there are far more of our Pacific neighbours that will be directly affected. There are countries where the highest point on these islands is tens of metres. And so significant parts of their country is just going to disappear if the sea level rises a metre and evidence of sea level rising is always going to be debated by people because again, it's an averaging thing.
But we're already seeing it in places like Bangladesh. Yeah. Where entire... And it's one of those things where it's inch by inch and entire areas of farmland, even though you can still walk there because the sea, like the sea levels have risen, it's increased the salinity of these places and they can't grow food and it's unstable. They can't build houses.
And the annual flooding, which occurs from flooding rivers lasts longer because the water's got nowhere to go.
And it gets exacerbated by natural events like hurricanes and everything to which raise the sea level.
And look, there have been things where we've been watching glaciation, disappearing. Glaciers in New Zealand, Canada.
Especially now that you're there, red and brown like the smoke.
Exactly. Yeah. Those glaciers are disappearing in my lifetime significantly. You know, places in New Zealand that I went to in the 1970s where you could walk from the in a couple of the glaciers on the south island and you could walk from the little tourist office, you know, where you bought your ticket to go and visit the glacier. And it was a few hundred metres walk, now you've got to get in a bus and travel kilometres to get to them. And so those glaciers have retracted quite significantly. The same thing in Canada and the same thing in Greenland, Antarctica. So we are definitely losing ice. And losing ice is a pretty good indicator that the temperature is rising. Now we're getting to the point in Australia, in western North America, in Canada and The United States, where the bush fire seasons are just getting longer. We've had California, they were having they were having huge bush fires months after summer. September, October,.
Where again because of that drying out.
The drying out. And the winter was just dry. It didn't rain. And so if you didn't get bush fires in the summer that meant that all that material was just there to keep burning when you did get fire. Yeah, we've got a second cousin who lives in California. She was evacuated from a house in October. That's unheard of.
The trick is that for them, that's winter.
Yeah. Or at least coming. It's going into winter. Yeah. So those sort of things. Yeah. Yes, They're all anecdotal and those individual anecdotal stories can always be argued about them not being evidence, but they are anecdotally, you know, they're anecdotal evidence to suggest that something is happening when you when you start to pile a whole lot of them together. And that's not scientific evidence. But when you combine it with the scientific evidence that can say, yes, this is a problem, then it is.
So, yeah, it's pretty crazy. I've got some figures here up on the screen where you can see all of the major bush fires and how many houses and deaths there have been. And, you know, since records began in 1918, it really has ramped up where every single year now it seems like we're losing, you know, potentially hundreds of houses and quite often quite a few people. So do you think, too, that climate change is obviously going to come to the forefront for the population of Australia, where previously it may not have been an issue, but now so many people are going to be affected, going to have been affected by these bush fires, that it's going to become unavoidable?
Yeah. And that those figures at face value look like a problem. But the counterargument to those is always, well, the population is increasing. So there are more buildings and more people and so on and more likely to be affected, which is not true. But they are indicative that we do have a problem.
But that's also not necessarily an argument because the population is increasing and we're living in more areas that are already susceptible, there is still a problem, right? even if the bush fires remain the same?
And that's Indicative? Even if nothing was actually changing with our climate and the bush fire regime, the fact that we now have more people living in in areas that are likely to be affected means that it is a bigger problem. And when you then combine that with the other part of the story, which is that there are differences in what's going on, the bush fires are worse, they're happening earlier, they are more likely to happen at an increasing rate over the next few decades unless we do something.
Wow. And going on from there, I saw this on Reddit. I think this is out of the gun out climate change review. This is from when Rudd was in government. And it reads, you know, the bush fires section. Recent projections of fire weather suggests that fire seasons will start earlier, end slightly later and generally be more intense. This effect increases over time, but should be directly observable by 2020.
And this is 10 years ago.
And that was that was published before.
Yeah, 2008. I think you're right. You're right.
Yeah. So that's 12 years ago. And yeah, it's been absolutely accurate. And that's something that we could we could talk about it without moving this directly into politics. But clearly politics, regardless of which side you sit on. Politics means that the people who are running the states and the country need to have policies and practices in mind that are accounting for this. Whether they want to argue about whether we should be burning more coal to create energy is one side of that. But they can't argue that we have got more bush fires affecting more people on a regular basis now. And therefore we need to have fire policy and that means a radical change in the way we do things. Some people are not going to be very happy about it. But as a country, we have to determine whether it is reasonable for people to be living in areas that got high threat of bush fires on an annual basis. Whether we just simply say to people, I'm sorry, you can't live in those areas and they're beautiful and people love living in them. And I've lived in them for centuries.
Actually thousands of years when you talk about indigenous people as well.
But that's only one aspect of it. There are huge amount of aspect of managing fires and doing burn offs to get rid of fuel and so on. The challenge we've had over the last two years is that there's been a lot of people complaining, saying this got nothing to do with climate change. It's just that the greenies are preventing us from burning off, but the Greens are not preventing them from burning off. They're actually supporting burning off because they realise that it's just for two years we have not been able to burn off because it has not been damp enough to control a fire even in winter. If we'd been doing burn offs in some of these areas, even in our winter, we would have created bush fires. So we need to have ways of managing those areas in a way that is going to not only prevent bush fires, but we should be able to reduce the impact of them.
a big part of it is not preventing them. It's preventing intense, you know, massive scale fires.
Because we need bush fires. Our landscapes evolve to have bush fires, a lot of species of which, you know, rely upon the frequency of bush fires. We can get into the ecology and stuff later on. But politics wise, I would love you to chat about Scomo, Scummo, Smoko.
He's been nicknamed 'Scomo' from Scott Morrison.
I think he nicknamed himself 'Scomo' because he wanted to make himself look more New-Age.
Yeah, well, while I resonate with the younger crowd or the everyday bloke, but then he got nicknamed Scummo, and then after the recent escapade Smoko. So you want to talk a bit about how his government's kind of failed Australia? because you'll know a bit more about this and then maybe what he's been up to over this period and how he's lost so much political capital in the last two weeks.
Yeah, and again, I've spoken to people who are sitting on the other side of politics for me. And just to, you know, cards on the table, I'm sitting a long way further left than his government. And so I disagree with him on principle, on a lot of things. But just from in terms of looking at that loss of political capital, where you have a prime minister who chooses to go on holiday with his family overseas when these fires are actually occurring, this is not like something happened while he was away. They were already occurring and there was already a problem. And he left the country. You could say, you know, what's he going to do? What would be different from him holidaying in Honolulu to making decisions and doing and doing things than if he were sitting in Canberra or Sydney? But a lot of it is about perception, and perception is reality. If you don't care enough about your country to stay in the country while these crises are occurring. What message does that send? And yes, everybody is entitled to their holidays and family holidays are important. And yeah, he is a public servant after all.
But he's the leader.
The leader and he's a public servant. We are his boss. Yeah. Did he ask us if he could go overseas?
He didn't tell us.
He didn't even tell us that he was going. And what does that indicate to you?
And he wouldn't even allow us with his office to tell us where he was. That's right. They were saying he's not overseas, not in Hawaii. No worries.
So so there's that element of it. And you can... Even if you wanted to, you could sit there and say it actually doesn't matter that, you know, whether he's overseas or not. That's fine. But that's just one thin part of that. He then comes back to Australia and the first thing he does is start to hold press conferences where he's simply denying that there's a problem. And then a week later, he's holding press conferences, admitting there is a problem. But saying this is a state issue because fires are controlled by the states and blah, blah, blah.
Because that argument was I think that was somewhat related to individual states wanting more funding, more money to pay volunteer firefighters as well. And he was saying that's not the federal government or the Commonwealth problem. That's your problem. You have to deal with that using the money you've got, which is an argument. But it's kind of like... it's not helpful. Well, Okay, You're getting out of it.
And when you had the leader of the country saying things like these people are volunteers, they don't want to be paid.
I don't care whether that is even true. It doesn't matter. What we have at the moment is in eastern Victoria, southern New South Wales and now in Kangaroo Island and other parts of South Australia, we have fire, fire men and women volunteering from other states using up their annual leave because they're now out of... They're required to be paid by their employer for a proportion of that time, But now they're using up their annual leave to come and do the government's job.
Well, they're probably doing more than that, right. They some of them have been working since potentially September. So that's like 3 months!
We've had Queensland firefighters and firefighters in northern New South Wales who are now fighting fires in southern New South Wales and Victoria. And they've been on this for three months.
And without a break.
Without a break and...
12 hour, 16 hour days,
individual people are having breaks, but those workforces are unpaid workers and they're doing the government's job. So, to... Even if he honestly believes that these people are volunteers and they don't want to be paid, which was I'm not going to quote him directly, but that was the essence of what he said as the leader of the country, he should be saying these people deserve to be supported, and that our government will support them.
Well, to give him credit, he did after a massive public backlash.
Oh, yes. Well, exactly.
Once we'd beat him over the barrel He was like, alright, we'll give all volunteer firefighters. I think now it's $300 a day up to six grand.
Yeah, I know. And so there's those things. And then to give him a bit of a break, there's a no win situation that he finds himself in now because there've been a couple of visits to areas that have, and people can go look these up themselves. The reaction of Cobargo, which is a small town in New South Wales.
We can't play the audio because it is so crass!
Where he visited the town and was basically told impolitely to leave!
By a crowd of people.
By a crowd of people saying, we don't want you here. You didn't support us before the fire. You're not supporting us now. This is a publicity stunt. You're just turning up with film crews.
And he was forcing people to shake his hand! Ugh!
And forcing people to shake his hand and so on. So there's that element now that is simply saying he is turning this around now to be a publicity stunt. And there's part of that argument. That's my opinion. But I also accept the other side that if he said in Canberra or Sydney and did not visit these places, people would be saying, you don't care, Go out and visit. However, what he can do is be a little more statesman-like, as you say, it is about leadership, be a statesman. You don't go out there shaking people's hands, forcing them to shake your hands in the street. You go out and you speak to the local firefighters. You go out to the community leaders there and saying, what can we do to help you? You don't turn up with a film crew and do the handshakes and kissing babies in the street. And that's what statesmanship is. That's what a leader should be about, is saying to these people, I'm not going to turn your disaster and your tragedy into a political statement for me. I'm going to be out there to make sure that your community leaders get the support they need to get your lives back on track.
It seems like he's just so out of touch because there was also...
Interesting, given that he's a marketer. PR and marketing, you'd reckon he would know!
Yeah, he did the Where the bloody hell are you? ad!
Yeah,Where the bloody hell are you, Scomo?
But he apparently hosted the Australian cricket team for New Year's Day at Kirribilli House, the prime minister's house in Canberra, and gave a speech to them saying, you know, make sure that you do a great job playing cricket this week. I think they'll play New Zealand, right? Yeah, because all the Aussies are going to be you know, you're watching you and hoping you win. And it's...
Well, that'll improve their lives!
Yeah, exactly. You're just like 'what are you doing?' And then I think he published a social media ad with this happy jingle behind it, showing all the things he's doing for the bush fire. And even Piers Morgan, you know, the Right Wing... Arguable right wing nut job from Britain was like, dude, how detached from reality are you to be posting this at this time? So yeah, and it just seems...
It's like you can blame the individual. But behind the scenes, we don't know how much bad advice he is getting or how much good advice he is ignoring. And either one of those is a problem.
Well, even the... What's her name?? Gladys from New South Wales.
The premier there. She and Scomo were sending, I think 3000 military reservists to help the Rural Fire Service, and didn't tell the rural fire service!
That's an administrative error. But again, you've got to look at it and say it's an administrative error, that the first thing you think of is tell the people in charge. We have to send you three thousand more people and a whole lot of resources. What we want to do with them. No one is going to send them.
So in your opinion, what could this government be doing that would that would get it a lot more credit? How should the government be dealing with a situation like this?
Well, I think I've sort of said some of them. One is that you support people and you can do it publicly, but you support the local community leaders in the first place. These are people whose who's the mayor of small towns. The police forces, the fire services, but not teachers at the moment because it's school holidays. But the people who are supporting the community, you go to them and say, what can we do to help you now immediately? We don't need... we're in the sort of funny situation where I know we have thousands of people, you know, that you hear on daily, on talkback radio, on things saying I'm happy to donate toys and clothes and blankets and those sort of things to families who need them, but there's nowhere for them to go. So if I donate all of this stuff at the moment to say the Red Cross, the Red Cross are more concerned about evacuating people than they are about taking toys to children. And that's not to say that taking toys to children is a bad thing, but we need some coordination there. That coordination has to come locally.
There was something like that in Melbourne, I think I saw on the news yesterday where there was I think it was the Red Cross or there was a factory where the highway was blocked up for kilometres with people who had just gone to Woolies or Coles and bought stuff and fill their car up with the food and just brought it and dumped it there for them. And they were kitting it out to these places.
And so that's one side. But I think you'd just support the local communities immediately to say, what do you need to get yourselves back on your feet? Yeah. The second part of that is the medium term strategy to say we're going to have hundreds of thousands of people whose lives are going to be affected for the next year while they're getting back on their feet. How do we deal with that? Many of those people, the property they've lost and so on, will not be insured. Now, we can argue about whether people should be insured and whether the government should be supporting if they're not. But these are natural disasters that we could also argue the government has some responsibility for being able to manage and control. Now, that's not a finger pointing thing. I think it's just a time where you say we're not going to argue the point and say we're not going to support people who should have had insurance and their houses burned down. So bad luck. So what do we do to help them? And governments are usually pretty good at that middle layer stuff. That's what they will do, because that's what they. That's what the public service is designed to do. And the public services, the government, it's the parliament of the people who are making the public decisions. But the government itself is usually very good at working with large agencies like the Red Cross and so on to be able to manage those medium term things. The longer term things that we spoke about earlier is making policy decisions that are going to avoid... not avoid, You can't avoid bush fire. It's always going to happen. But how do we avoid these sort of large scale bush fires? And so making those longer term political decisions that are going to allow us to do things that means that in a decade's time we're not going to have the next round of this. Next year. We're not going to change now.
Well, we probably bought ourselves five years.
We have, in some areas, but the other is that haven't been burned just by accident. But the fuel is still there waiting for the next the next year. And let's remember, we're early in summer. You know, our fire season is still going to go for another two to three months. And so this is this is not something it's just going to disappear. I think the other thing that we can do is to have military intervention enabled by policy much earlier so that you don't have to have the prime minister and the minister for defence saying, look, we'll give you 3000 Army Reserve people.
We just won't tell you about it.
We should have the head of the fire services, the Rural Fire Service in New South Wales or the CFA and in Victoria and so on, be able to simply ring up and say, we need a thousand people here now and they just get them because that's already pre-approved. So there's some of those sort of things. They're just one small example,.
An international stuff.
Well, internationally. Then there's the bigger picture thing is the climate change thing. To say, Grand scheme. We need to be able to reduce the change in climate because it's only going to get worse if we don't.
But his argument, I guess, would be Australia contributes less than 2 per cent of the global emissions. Why should we do anything? It's not going to be...
Do you want to hold the fucking moral high ground or not?
Yeah. Do you want to go to international political leader events and be able to stand up and hold China, India, The United States up and say we're doing our bit? New Zealand has got a smaller population than Melbourne and New Zealand are doing everything they possibly can. Their economy is a tenth of the size of Australia and they are doing what they do. The argument has always come back to people saying yes, but they don't rely on mining, which we do. We obviously rely on mining and a significant proportion of that is coal mining and sending coal overseas. So. But that's a long term strategy. I'm not saying stop mining cold today. We're saying let's look at ways of changing our industries in this country so that we are not reliant on fossil fuels, not just for our own internal consumption, because, you know, whether we use oil based fuels for our cars is a minor thing in comparison with selling millions of tonnes a year of coal to countries overseas to burn. Even if we decide not to burn it, we're still digging it up and selling it to them. We've got a large company building another coal mine in Queensland.
Yeah, who will be selling it back to India? There's an Indian company selling it back to India and the Indian government has made a decision not to mine coal anymore. Really? It's hell. How can we where we've got it... Yes, India is a very large country, but it's a developing country economically and they are making decisions to adversely affect their own economy. And yet we are not doing it.
Well, we'll get to that point, I think, especially after these sorts of situations. Right, where the average person now is just going to say, I don't mind paying more. I don't mind suffering a little bit to avoid these kinds of situations in the future, which is, you know, you see people donating like crazy now as it is. So people are obviously willing to give up when it when it's necessary, but they need to obviously see the impacts first, unfortunately.
The passive donation in advance. Donate through your tax rather than donating through your hip pocket. Because, look, we all appreciate and Australia has always been very good at donating time, money and effort for natural disasters, whether they are in Australia, whether they're overseas. But that's a feel good thing where I'm not directly affected other than the air quality in our town at the moment, I'm not directly affected by bush fires. But if I donate money to, say, the CFA in Victoria or to WIRES, the Wildlife organise a wildlife rescue organisation to go out helping you or to the Red Cross to go out helping people who've suffered and so on. I feel good about that. Yeah, if I just get more tax taken out of my pay packet, I don't feel good about that, even if I'm told that part of that is going towards preventing this in the future. So it's a change in people's attitude that is required to say that there are some things in life that we are better off paying for in advance than having to ask for charity later to try and fix.
Yeah, yeah. It's definitely a shame. Moving on to, I guess, wildlife, you know, we've lost potentially, as you said, vertebrate wise, half a billion animals that have just been wiped out. And I was reading an article today about potential extinction of a number of animals.
There'll be hundreds of species of animals that will either go extinct directly because of this or will go extinct over the next decades because they population is reduced or it has got to be in small islands that can't support them. And that's just animals.
And when you say islands, you mean like small locations,.
Small yet little, little ecological islands where you have a small area of forest that for whatever reason, in serendipity was not burned in a fire, that simply is no longer large enough in area to sustain a viable population of a particular species.
Beyond that, at the moment, the extent of these fires, the problem is that you don't just have small fires clearing a little bit of land, not next to which there are pockets that are fine and pristine where animals can move in and out of one to get sanctuary from the fire and then move back once, repopulate that area as it regrows. Now you have just massive swathes of land turned into a moonscape.
Yeah, we yeah, we've got fire fronts that are tens of kilometres. Just blazing through land for tens of kilometres.
This article was saying to you've got a whole bunch of different sort of scenarios for animals where you have those large mammals and birds that can flee and get out, but they end up in other areas where.
They are overpopulating.
There's no space. You have the ones that are stuck there like koalas and I was saying like sugar gliders, which just don't flee, they burn up literally.
Small, non-flying vertebrates. Small mammals. Yeah, reptiles, amphibians just have nowhere to go.
Yep. And then you have the ones that can go and save themselves in the moment like small rats and mice and wombats can get into burrows and everything. But when they come out, there's nowhere to go. They're on the moon. Yeah. There's nothing to eat. And I think on top of that, compounding that issue, anything that does survive becomes easy prey for feral species like foxes and cats, which now move into these areas because they can pick off anything that's injured, already dead or alive, but has no food and is dying slowly. So that's one thing that I don't think I've seen covered that much. Aside from koalas, where that seems to be a constant in the news.
Signature species are always... Koalas are beautiful animals.
Yeah, well, maybe that's the sympathy button in a lot of people will... it's the gateway drug to caring about wildlife more broadly.
Exactly. Who who's going to care about some little legless live lizard that lives in a grassland that's already a remnant? Yeah, but when you talk about kangaroos and koalas, they're the signature species.
Well, that's some of the most tragic stuff. I think some of the most touching footage, aside from, you know, hearing about the stories of, say, those young fathers dying. The volunteer firefighters where their trucks have been tipped up or smashed by trees. One was tipped up by a fire tornado. These extreme weather events that occur in this microcosm and then leaving three of those guys that have died. All 32, 36 and 28 have all left behind, either young children or pregnant wives, which is just tragic. But the animals we've seen all this footage of people finding koalas that are on fire, literally running out of the fire and having to pour water on them. And they're, you know, severely burned and then having to put them down. And only yesterday on Reddit, I was seeing all these videos of people driving through farmland now where there was a tragic scene of this guy driving down the road, looking out the window at a fenced area where there was just hundreds of livestock, you know, sheep and cows, just just carcasses that have been cooked and expanded all lying along the fence line because they had nowhere to go and nowhere to go. And they'd even broken through the fence...
And run away until they get to a fence line, all it does is slow them down until the fire catches them. It's horrible things to talk about. And human tragedy is theoretically always going to be worse than tragedy for animals. But that doesn't make the animal tragedies okay. And so there are there are always going to be those stories of things that are happening that, you know, those signature species are the ones, as you say, that make the. Yeah. The seven o'clock news. But plenty of endangered species. And people can argue I mean I'm an ecologist. You're a you know, used to be an ecologist before you became a geneticist. And before you became a podcaster. We're always thinking about those, and a lot of people would say, well, what does one legless lizard matter? And I could argue about that, but I'd probably lose. Yeah, but the legless lizard is an indicator of habitat and that habitat has importance for all sorts of things. It's not that you are losing one species of reptile. It's going to be important to humanity...
Well any individual species in and of itself is going to be important.
Well when we start to lose that because the habitat has disappeared. Yeah. What does that mean for us? Yeah. What are we going to use that habitat for in the future? Can we restore that habitat? And That's one of the things. One of the beauties, as you were mentioning earlier on is the Australian ecosystems have, many of them, have evolved because of fire and therefore they require fire to continue their survival.
Do you want to expand out on that quickly?
Yeah, well, they they've evolved, but on the basis that they need fire in patches to create new areas so they can get more growth. Otherwise you end up with old growth areas where you have a dramatic event like this and there's nothing to replace. All the old trees die and those old trees had no new growth underneath them because they were completely dominant. And you know, the smaller plants can't survive underneath.
It's a kind of... it's kind of confusing thing, too. Right. But he's kind of like, well,.
You want to maintain diversity in the environment.
But the environment originally before it was obviously bush fire prone and there were lots of bush fires as a chicken and the egg kind of. Yeah. You would have had a lot of species that couldn't handle fire. Fires started becoming more and more frequent, wiping those species out. And the ones that survived were the ones that could handle fire. Yeah. And they adapted the ones that sort of kept surviving more and more and more were either those who could resist fire or those who flourished as a result of fire. Right. Especially a lot of these plants that now required in order to open their seeds, which is a funny thing, because it's kind of like they almost have to be killed in order to reproduce...
...successfully. And by doing so, they have no competition because the competition's been burnt out. So their seeds fall into an ash bed and they grow up. And then the animals rely on that regrowth quite often. Yes. Because there's all of a sudden an abundance of food for them.
And high quality food, because It's growing plant material...
Out of this nutrient, you know, ash bed. Yeah.
So there's all of those. But the challenge we have with really hot fires is that those particularly eucalypt trees get so badly burnt they simply can't regenerate. Yep. And that the ash bit on the ground is so hot that it kills the seeds and they can't germinate. And so you end up with these ecological deserts that, yes, we can go on, replant and do what we want to do with them. But though we're not going to be replanting a wet square off of rainforest or sorry a wet square of a forest or rainforest. And ironically, rainforests are really bad at regenerating from fire because traditionally they've never had to worry about it because they've been so wet they never get fire.
Well, this is what I was talking about before. Those species that just never got better on their suddenly burning now, too, because they're drying out as a result of drought.
And they can survive drought because the trees are good enough to be able to get moisture out of soil and so on for years without significant rainfall. But when you get fire go through, they don't regenerate. But even the ones that do regenerate, all what's happening is that the major trees species are regenerating, but all the undergrowth is gone. And so we have a completely different eco system for decades before that undergrowth can regenerate. So it's not like all the animals can. Once the trees are back with, you know, the kangaroos and koalas and everything else can come back. Well, the koalas might be able to if they could get there, but nothing else will. So, yeah.
That's one of the tragic things I think that these food chains or ecological ecosystems are going to be completely wiped out. So even if you end up with a lot of the... some of the native species coming back, it will never be the same. It was at least for us subjectively. You know, obviously in a thousand years it'll be fine. It'll be different. Earth doesn't care about us. We care about Earth!
exactly right. We just need to fear it.
So what do you see happening with the Australian wildlife in this sort of area or the ecosystems in your lifetime or in my lifetime? Do you think it's only going to get worse and we're going to see mass extinction happen?
You know, it will. And There's almost nothing we can do about that. Yeah, in the general sense, other than doing things like major change on policy and practice on fire is a good example of that. We can't recover ecosystems from fire if they have completely destroyed the ecosystem. We could go and replant, but that's. Yeah, that's a century long solution. It's not a solution that any government, certainly any government in this political environment is going to be able to get away with doing. They are going to disappear and so on, which means that it's important for us to try and do whatever we can to maintain areas in a way that we're not going to have these catastrophic disasters going through them. So having controlled burns and doing those sort of things where we're actually trying to replicate the historical and evolutionary environment that these ecosystems have grown up in, because for decades certainly and possibly longer than that, we have allowed fires to occur. In effect, we've deliberately lit fires not recently, but in decades past in order to clear land. And so clearing in the past is something that's happened. We can't change that. But what we can do is to say we want to be able to maintain these ecosystems in a way that means that they can we can have controlled fires, but they're not going to have... If there is a bush fire that comes by accident or heaven forbid by some idiot lighting it, that they are not going to turn into catastrophic events like we've had recently.
Some story I was reading about a guy in South Australia who lit six fires and was 79 years old, running around lighting the fires two days ago or something and a fortnight ago.
There's always idiots doing that and just think you can't account for it.
Literally like the expression and this guy just wants to watch the world burn.
Yeah, and you can't account for individual stupidity where you've got you know, you've got a handful of people out of a population of 25 million who are going to do something stupid. You can't legislate against stupidity.
This is almost like, I guess, Australia's equivalent of America's high school shooters. Right. We've got our own arsonists.
our own idiots.
You can't you don't know who's going to do it before they do it.
No. Exactly. And they say you can't legislate against stupidity, but what you can do is you can mitigate the effect that either natural or human stupidity is going to create.
So how do you felt about the response and the things that you've seen on the news? Is that heart-warming? Do you feel like Australia sets itself apart from the rest of the World?
I'm not sure it sets itself apart from it. I'd like to think that humanity, no matter where you are in the world, does a good thing in terms of, you know, when other people are in crisis, people tend to respond in a way that is heart-warming. A story that I heard on the radio this morning of a woman who her family, not her, but her family were on holidays in south east New South Wales. And they were evacuated from the coastal town that ran into one of the inland towns that was no longer affected by fire had had potentially been a month ago. And this is a family of 11 people in two vehicles. And they were one of the children was asthmatic. So they were sleeping in a car, in cars, in an underground carpark underneath the supermarket. And one of the supermarket workers who happened to have also been... Well, he was a refugee from North Africa in his childhood. And he found them in, you know, in the car park and just said, come home with me. And he's had them living in his house for a couple of days. 11 people. So this is a guy is a refugee to our country. So, yes, he's chosen to be Australian. So but he's come from a country in northern Africa that that has been a social and economic disaster for decades. But he's opening up his house to strangers who are in need. And, you know, that's one story of thousands of stories. We have celebrities who are doing things like this. You mentioned the cricket earlier on where we've got cricketers now who are donating $1000 to various appeals for every wicket they take or every six they hit and so on.
We've got tennis players doing for aces. So Nick Kyrgios was saying $200 an ace. This season he'll donate.
Yeah. And he's pushing Tennis Australia to have an event before the Australian Open to raise money. And he has said he'll play anybody in the world for free to raise money to do that. We've got Ash Barty. Yeah.
Ash Barty, who's done things...
Where she said her entire winnings from Brisbane's international event, which could be as much as almost four hundred thousand dollars. She'll donate. And then we've had P!NK, the singer.
And she's an American.
Donating half a million dollars to the New South Wales Fire Service. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban this morning donated $500,000 to the same cause. So we've got, you know, celebrities who can afford. Yes, but they care enough to do it.
I think one of the craziest stories out of that is, at least for me, I didn't know of it before it. An Australian comedian named Celeste Barber, who started the go... No, the Facebook donations thing that's now over $30 million in 48 hours. So I was watching it. It was at 16 the other day. She up to 20 million, in fact, yesterday, I believe. And now it's at $30 million. You know, just this this one woman who's done that.
Well, it's one of the good sides of social media.
Yeah. It's that you can get so many people to act quickly,
You get people to act quickly and that it gives you a global context. This is not just people going on television in Australia during the tennis or the cricket or the news saying raising money here and having the ticker running underneath, saying go to this Web address or ring this number. This is yeah, Facebook has billions of people. Yeah, yeah. Six degrees of separation. You only need a few people to share with all their friends. And suddenly the whole world knows about something and it comes out. There's a whole lot of downside to social media. But those sort of publicity things are good. The other side of social media that works very well in these circumstances is simply getting emergency messages out. Yeah. And well, that's what the Facebook have been very good over a long period of time of creating this 'I'm safe' messaging system that says, hey, there's this event on. All you need to do is post here to say you're okay and it'll go to all of your friends and family.
They know, don't they? Facebook knows your location. And so if you're in that location and you sign in, it will ask you, are you okay?
Yeah. Okay. Or whatever.
I think one of the funniest ones from donations... Did you hear about this on the news? I think her name is, on Twitter or Instagram, Earth Angel is donating... She's sending nudes to anyone who donates $10. She's a model and she's Californian. And I've been watching this. So originally it was like she'd made a few thousand dollars and that story was picked up. She's made over half a million dollars now, for Australia.
Well, there you go. I'm not sure whether we've talked on your podcast before about my opinion of social media influencers and what that word means. I have always said that an influencer on social media is somebody who gets celebrity by doing nothing. But here's a person who is actually influencing. Influencing in a sense of doing something themselves to change the lives of other people in a positive way.
While leveraging her talents in a positive way to help us! Yeah, it's crazy. Anyway, yeah. Wrapping up then, dad, what are you expecting for the rest of the season?
It'll only get worse. It'll be different. It'll be in different places. We can hope that we learn from what we've had over the last couple of months and that we can start to put in community services that are going to help people because we can't change what's going to happen with bush fires over the next two months because we can't go in and do, you know, fuel load burning and those sort of things in areas that haven't been burned. We've just got to hope that we can manage areas. And one of the things that people can do, if you are in some of your listeners will be in Australia, some will be travelling to Australia, some deliberately come to Australia. Now, some who come from the northern hemisphere in winter because they want to leave their winter and come to Australia. That's renowned for our summers. If you are coming, a couple of pieces of advice wherever you are going, find out what the local fire service advice is giving. There are apps around for most of the most states and most of the fire services where they will give you emergency updates in particular areas. So if you're informed, you'll know what's going on and they will give you information early enough that you can deal with it because... Yeah, there's four things that you need to be able to handle in fires. One is having a plan knowing what you're going to do. So if you're visiting an area rather than living in it, know what other people's plan is. Choose not to come to those areas if you have to. If you find out that you would not travel to south eastern New South Wales right now, you couldn't get in yet. And aside for that is postpone your travel for three months and come and see them in three months' time because they are really going to need you.
Well, that was the thing I wanted to get onto. I shared this earlier yesterday,
I saw that.
And I'll read that out for you guys. Yeah, I want you to do just one simple thing. When these fires have stopped in the towns, impacted a safe and trying to regain some sense of quote unquote or quite normal. I want you to plan a road trip, go with empty eskies, empty cars and low fuel. Go spend your money, stay in their hotels, buy from their shops, camp in their campgrounds, buy their gifts, buy their fuel, buy their bread, buy their milk and beyond rebuilding, they need continued a long term support to get back on their feet. And your empty esky makes more of a difference than you could ever imagine. So you think a big thing is just sending people out there? Go to these places and spend money?
Spend money? Yes. If you want to donate to the Red Cross or to the Rural Fire Service or to the CFA or any of those things, every one of those organisations do great jobs and they'll accept your money. But the best thing that you can do for these local people is to support their industries. Yeah, they're commercial businesses because most of the places, ironically, the places that burn are beautiful places. And so they rely on tourism.
There have been some tragic photos up on Reddit. I'd see if I can get one up here, but where I've seen before and after shots of massive landscapes like this one here, where... Where is this? This is in Tommy's Rock Lookout. I'll put this photo up for anyone watching the YouTube video. But you just see that at the look at the before and after where it does look like, you know, my shaved head.
A few days regrowth as opposed to my old head. So I mean. Yeah. Not to be laughing about it, but the forest is there, there's a river and then the photo afterwards is just, you know, devastation and effectively a moonscape. So. Yeah. But that's the idea. I think I'm going to try and do that. I was talking to you about that.
Yeah. We'll try to. We'll do at least some weekend trips down to eastern Victoria and so on. And look, the other thing that we talked about was, firstly, that's the planning and getting the information, but it's knowing what to do if you get caught in a fire situation. And we can't give you that advice. We're not professionals in that area. But if you are travelling in areas that are likely to be affected by fire, just knowing and that's again collecting that information and whatever you do, be safe. And There's a catch cry that gets used not just in Australia, but all over the world. And that is make a decision early. Yeah. Are you going to stay or are you going to leave?
Well, that's one of the most tragic things I think I've seen. Is there a lot of it seems like father and son deaths where they've stayed behind to try and protect the house and then they both die because then that's fire comes through.
And that's the tragedy, because, you know, in many places around the world to even Australia and in Europe and in North America and South Africa and, you know, lots of places that are fire prone, people who live in areas that are fire prone are usually well-informed and well prepared for what has happened in the past
and what's a normal fire.
What's happening now is something that, yeah, those sort of fires, you can't possibly cope if you don't understand them and we don't understand them now. But in hindsight, we can. And maybe that is people just had to leave earlier or you don't go and have your holiday in a place that is fire prone.
It's absolutely harrowing. Some of the footage that I guess social media has allowed us to see as well, because there are a lot of firefighters right on the front line pulling their phones out and filming things like I've seen videos of fire trucks with, you know, the crew inside drive literally driving through the front of the fire. Having to push the blanket up against the window to stop the heat from coming in and you know, other ones where they're literally standing in front of 70m flames, like it's weird. Is this the kind of stuff that you just or the average person just never knew about beforehand?
Well, we knew about them, but this is before my life.
It's that level of intensity.
Arguably the worst fires up until recent times in European memory. And Australia were the 1939 fires in Victoria and southern New South Wales. And people then were talking about walls of fire, a 100 metre high walls of fire. But we didn't have cameras, we didn't have television, we didn't have mobile phones. We didn't have that capacity to capture that and show it to everybody instantly. So we're much more aware of those things now, but they've certainly happened in the past. But they used to happen once every hundred years. Now they're happening once every few years.
It's insane, too. I mean, I was looking at this news article up here. Australia fires a visual guide to the bush fire crisis, which has a lot of stats and photos up here showing, you know, the effect of fire. And these 70 metre high flames are higher than the Opera House. The Sydney Opera House is just sixty five metres high and then showing how quickly fire spreads. So the average person can run, I think they have here in miles per hour for whatever reason, 6.1, 2 miles per hour. Forest fires moves at about 7 miles per hour. And grass fires are a double that speed at 14 miles per hour. So you kind of outrun it. If it's coming, you're screwed.
Yeah. And we're talking about forest fires in some cases in mature, wet sclerophyll. Yes, these are forests of eucalypt trees that are 50 meters high. Plus, when the trees are 50 meters high, you can double at height for the flames.
And the fires. Yeah. So if you were standing there, it's everything is above you. They surround you.
It's so intense that they create their own little microcosm of weather. And so they're actually affecting directly affecting the weather around them. And you get fireballs where the fires literally because of the heat in the fire is evaporating, oils out of the leaves of trees hundreds of metres away.
And they will eventually explode into flames because they get so hot, without having direct contact with the original fire.
And that's what spot fires all over the place.
Spot fires are also coming from embers, ash burning. But when you get, you know, these fire bombs that are basically just tops of trees exploding.
Yeah, it is pretty insane. Definitely. Go and check out some of the footage to really understand what's going on. But, Dad, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Hey, I would say it's always great talking. It's unfortunately not a great thing to talk about, but we'll get through it one way or another and let's hope nobody else dies.
Yeah, that's it. Last but not least, I guess, guys, jump on my Facebook. I've started a little fundraiser as well for the New South Wales Rural Fire Services. So we're aiming to try and get two grand together and wear it about 650 bucks currently. So jump on there and give what you can. Every dollar counts. But thanks again Dad for joining me. And I'll chat to you soon.
Thanks. See you next week.
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