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South-eastern Australia burns
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Author Topic: South-eastern Australia burns  (Read 7186 times)
Medivh
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« on: February 09, 2009, 06:34:13 EST »

With the highest death toll of any bushfire season, Victoria is in the middle of a crisis. Currently, 135 Victorians are confirmed dead, with the missing numbering much higher. Entire townships have been completely wiped out. Currently, at least ten areas, each with several fronts, are still alight and uncontrolled.

Parts of New South Wales are also currently alight, although all but two fronts are under control and no longer moving.

Reports from Victoria and New South Wales police state that some of these fires are suspected of being arson, and all of them are being treated as crime scenes. Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland has promised that anyone found to have started the fires will be charged with multiple counts of murder.
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2009, 07:56:58 EST »

I read that several years ago fire-breaks in the form of areas of deforested land were constructed around soutern Australian cities.  Is this true?  Or have the fire breaks failed to work?
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Medivh
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2009, 18:53:36 EST »

None of the major population centres are under threat, although the Kinglake area fires were getting close to the northern suburbs of Melbourne. However, the aformentioned Kinglake was a town of 1500-odd, and I'm told it's been nearly demolished. Marysville, a nearby town of 500-odd has been wiped out completely. These towns were mainly rural, as far as I know, so fire breaks would have been hard to build and maintain.

I'm not sure how well fire breaks would have worked, anyway. Reports from survivors claim that the front was moving at over 120km/h in places, due to massive gusts. Embers from the "controlled" area of the fire behind the break would easily cross any reasonable fire break that the firefighters would care to make under those conditions.

Into news updates: More than AU$14m has been raised through the Red Cross alone to help the victims out. Australian corporations have been getting in on the action with AU$1m from each of the four major banks, AU$2m from Tabcorp, Australia's largest gambling organisation, and $500k and Friday's profits from Coles supermarkets.

Eight uncontrolled fire fronts are still in existence, with three more under control but not out. Firefighters are being hampered by 14km/h winds with gusts of up to 24km/h. The number of confirmed dead has risen to over 170, with more deaths expected both from the survivors who've been burned and the police who are currently going door-to-door in areas that it's safe to do so.

Arrests have been made regarding the fires; a 40-year-old man was charged with conduct endangering life for using a power tool that sparked and lit three homes in Narre Warren. Police suspect the Gippsland fire was deliberately lit, and have been investigating people of interest. The Bendigo fire was started, reportedly, by a cigarette butt thrown out a car window.
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
wodan46
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2009, 18:59:42 EST »

The Bendigo fire was started, reportedly, by a cigarette butt thrown out a car window.
And people wonder why I dislike smokers.  Its not just that they smoke toxic crap and spew toxic gases into public areas, they then seem to believe that the toxic and flammable detritus isn't trash, and that they can just drop it wherever the hell they feel like.  They don't show the slightest bit of concern for how their actions affect others.
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The plural of "anecdote" is "anecdotes". Not "data".
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2009, 09:54:15 EST »

The fire was hot enough in places to melt aluminium wheel trims.
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Medivh
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2009, 19:16:56 EST »

Bloody hell, I hadn't seen that one yet.
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
FireyTiger
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2009, 18:35:38 EST »

The worst part of all of this, in my mind, is the suffering of the animals. I'm sure most people have heard the story of the koala named Sam that the firefighters found and saved... it's wonderful that she was saved along with many others, but it's still horrible that so many are suffering and probably have just outright died in the fires Sad
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I'm sorry, you still seem to think your opinion is relevant.  Please re-examine the earlier posts and try again.
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2009, 08:06:44 EST »

Which makes me think....  Did fires of this sort happen in Australia before human occupation of it?  Are they a natural thing or something that has been introduced by some human action?

(I'm not implying that the suffering of animals is any less were it natural).
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Medivh
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2009, 19:07:14 EST »

It did happen before human settlement, and humans have actually decreased the frequency with which bushfires happen. Evidence for the first can be had in the fact that gum trees can't spread seed without the seed pods being cracked by fire. Evidence for the latter... well I don't have any on hand, but it makes sense given that there have been controlled burns of natural fuel for a while now.

Three factors went into these fires: Arson, global warming and cutbacks on the governmental department responsible for the controlled burns. Most of the fires started, or were lit, on the hottest day in Victoria's record. Some 46OC, IIRC.

Quick update: Victoria still has 10 uncontrolled fronts, but milder conditions mean that control lines are going up very quickly. The armed forces have been helping there, with bulldozers and tanks. The official death toll is 189, with more expected.

Currently, the east of Melbourne is covered with a constant haze. I'm told that smoke from the fires has also reached New Zealand. Both somewhat worrying...
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2009, 05:40:47 EST »

I've read too that in some places planning law is quite strict about cutting down trees.

I wonder if the sort of systematic small fires used to stop large fires on moorland could be used in Australia.
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wodan46
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2009, 17:31:54 EST »

Which makes me think....  Did fires of this sort happen in Australia before human occupation of it?  Are they a natural thing or something that has been introduced by some human action?
Generally, its more getting people introduced to regions full of fires than the other way around.  No one cared about the fires when no one lived there, now that you have cozy suburbs in the way of the fire, it becomes a greater issue of concern.
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The plural of "anecdote" is "anecdotes". Not "data".
Medivh
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2009, 19:22:51 EST »

I've read too that in some places planning law is quite strict about cutting down trees.

Indeed. People have been fined thousands of dollars for creating fire breaks around the borders of their properties.

Curiously, these same properties are the ones most likely to be still standing now...

I wonder if the sort of systematic small fires used to stop large fires on moorland could be used in Australia.

Well, that's exactly what was happening, at least in greater numbers than just before the current fires, until budgets got cut and local councils got freaky about trees. The local fire authority wants controlled burns to be stepped up around the state. In some places, they want at least twice the activity from just before the current fires.

In other news: the constant haze has lifted, but I'm thinking that's due to a change in wind direction more than the fires being more under control.
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
Andrei
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2009, 13:02:00 EST »

Quote from: FireyTiger
The worst part of all of this, in my mind, is the suffering of the animals.
I don't want to start an unpleasent discussion here, but how can you say that the worst part of all this is a bunch of roasted koalas given that, according to Medivh's post, the death toll was at 189 three days ago.

As in 189 actual human beings.

Unless the koala death toll has reached 189 000, I can't see how it could be worse.
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He looked severely at me for awhile, then, grabbing his moustaches, he said:
- Boss, with all due respect, you are naive and pedant.

"Alexis Zorba", by Nikos Kazantzakis (translation mine)
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2009, 14:07:58 EDT »

Quote from: FireyTiger
The worst part of all of this, in my mind, is the suffering of the animals.
I don't want to start an unpleasent discussion here, but how can you say that the worst part of all this is a bunch of roasted koalas given that, according to Medivh's post, the death toll was at 189 three days ago.

As in 189 actual human beings.

Unless the koala death toll has reached 189 000, I can't see how it could be worse.

Its a difference in opinion regarding the relative value of human versus non-human life.

Your post suggests that one human life is roughly equivalent to the lives of one-thousand koalas. Not all of us feel that way; a life is a life.

Of course, I myself will acknowledge that the koalas and other natural creatures have been living and dying with the natural fires for ages. The real tragedy - in my mind - is that human activity has disrupted the natural cycle and now people and animals are both suffering in excessive quantities.
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wodan46
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2009, 22:07:41 EDT »

Frankly, animals always suffer.  Pain, fear, and worry are all better motivators for survival than pleasant feelings.  Do you think starving to death or being eaten alive are pleasant?  Those are for most species the usual causes of death.
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The plural of "anecdote" is "anecdotes". Not "data".
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