The Grafton Bridge shrouded in a smoky haze - not fog - on an early morning in Auguts, 2018.
The Grafton Bridge shrouded in a smoky haze - not fog - on an early morning in Auguts, 2018. Caitlan Charles

CLIMATE CHANGED: Winter is going... going... gone!

THIS is the third year in a row the Clarence Valley bushfire season has started in "winter".

Two years ago today The Daily Examiner reported two properties at Chambigne on the Old Glen Innes Road were saved by more than 20 firefighters and a fixed wing aircraft from one of nine bushfires burning in the region.

Unseasonal heat and dry conditions contributed to the fire risk more than a month out from the official start of the NSW bushfire season.

Fire crews were "stretched beyond their limits" by the end of July last year to contain several bushfires, with reports of a dramatic increase in illegal and escaped hazard reduction burns.

A recent fire in the Clarence Valley
A recent fire in the Clarence Valley Ed Newbery

By July 27 Clarence Valley RFS had already responded to 34 incidents, many the result of land owners burning off and losing control of their fires.

"Recent frosts and the absence of any significant rain over the past few months has increased the potential for fires to rapidly escalate," an RFS spokesperson said.

By August 2 the Grafton Bridge was shrouded in a smoky haze.

You could barely seen past the Grafton Bridge this morning with most of Grafton and South Grafton blanketed in smoke.
You could barely seen past the Grafton Bridge this morning with most of Grafton and South Grafton blanketed in smoke. Caitlan Charles

By August 19 the Clarence Valley had been declared a localised state of emergency and 70 volunteers from Sydney arrived to combat the blazes.

And now the past week - more than a dozen fires on the RFS radar including one which destroyed a home at Whiteman Creek and another which has ripped through 5668 hectaresthreatening homes at Kangaroo Creek, Kremnos, Lanitza and Kungala.

 

Bushfire at Middle Creek Rd.
Bushfire at Middle Creek Rd. Frank Redward

Once - a seasonal anomaly.

Twice - a particularly bad case of El Nino perhaps.

But thrice? It's a worrying trend. Throw the rulebook in the fire and don't attempt to write a new one. Expect the unexpected as our climate shifts around us.

 

DRY AS A BONE: The bushfire at Middle Creek Rd last Saturday night.
DRY AS A BONE: The bushfire at Middle Creek Rd last Saturday night. Frank Redward

What's even more disturbing than nature's unpredictability, however, is the Australian government's reluctance to take climate change seriously, and its blatant refusal to take the lead on this issue as the responsible leaders of our nation.

Instead, on the global political stage we take on the persona of the schoolyard bully hording his marbles (re: rejection of Tuvalu Declaration at Pacific Islands Forum to protect our interests in burning coal).

No, we probably can't stop the devastation of climate change in its tracks. But globally we can take steps to help slow its ferocity.

While some are showing initiative, ours instead continue to play dumb, all the while digging deeper into their pockets every time there's a climatic catastrophe.



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