Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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How does a nation adapt to its own murder?

Richard Flanagan writes:

The name of the future is Australia.

These words come from it, and they may be your tomorrow: P2 masks, evacuation orders, climate refugees, ocher skies, warning sirens, ember storms, blood suns, fear, air purifiers and communities reduced to third-world camps.

Billions of dead animals and birds bloating and rotting. Hundreds of Indigenous cultural and spiritual sites damaged or destroyed by bush fires, so many black Notre Dames — the physical expression of Indigenous Australians’ spiritual connection to the land severed, a final violence after centuries of dispossession.

Everywhere there is a brittle grief, and it may be as much for what is coming as for what is gone.

The dairy farmer Farran Terlich, whose properties in the South Coast were razed in a firestorm that killed two of his friends, described the blaze as “a raging ocean.” “These communities are destroyed across the board,” he said, “and most people are running dead.”

Dead, too, is a way of life.

Many homes will not be allowed to be rebuilt in threatened areas. Where they are allowed, they may not be affordable because of new building codes; if built, they may not be insurable. Local economies, like local ecosystems, may never recover.

A new survey estimates that more than half of all Australians have been directly affected by the fires, with millions suffering adverse health effects. The economic damage keeps growing, the total cost placed at about $100 billion Australian dollars (more than $68 billion), and rising. Gross domestic product is already impacted. Australia’s central bank has announced that it may be forced to buy up coal mines and other fossil fuel assets to avoid an economic collapse.

“This is what you can expect to happen,” said Richard Betts, a professor of geography at Exeter University in Britain, if the temperature increases by an average of three degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. “It tells us what the future world might look like.” [Continue reading…]

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