“There is no skeptic at the end of a fire hose”

That line, delivered by Peter Marshall, Secretary of the United Firefighters Union [Victoria Branch] made the crowd at the Climate Change Rally roar its approval, and I yelled right along with them.

Marshall went on to say that in decades past, firefighters would have to deal with just one major fire event every ten years or so. Since 2002 however, there have been NINE major events. They all know that things have changed. They all know that their jobs have become much harder, despite new technology. And they all know that things are going to get even worse if something isn’t done about climate change.

Interestingly, David Packham, an expert on fire behaviour, doesn’t believe the incidence of more frequent, hotter bushfires is because of climate change. He believes it is down to nothing but fuel loads.

Now I have great respect for David Packham, and as a layperson, I agree that fuel loads play a critical role in bushfires, but fuel loads can’t explain the frequency of other, catastrophic natural events around the world. And I do think climate has more than a little to do with the dangers we now face every summer – because I’m old enough to remember the weather patterns we used to have. Maybe some of you will remember as well.

As a child of six I have a very vivid memory of the day the everlasting heat finally broke with a massive thunderstorm. I remember because I, along with my parents, and most of the people on our street, rushed out to dance in the rain. That was in 1959.

Then again at about 16 or 17, I remember lying in bed under the open window, praying for a breath of cool air so I could get some sleep before my exam the following morning. I didn’t get my wish.

The thing to note here is that back then, neither we nor many other people owned fans, much less air-conditioners. Sometimes it got incredibly hot, but most of the time summer was bearable, and going down to the beach was fun.

Maybe I’ve grown soft in my old age, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t survive without cooling of some sort these days. And I certainly worry about bushfires a whole lot more. The world I knew is changing, fast, and the future promises not relief but more of the same.

That fear for the future was echoed by a lot of other people at the rally on Sunday too.

When I realised that I was effectively a roving reporter for my blog, I gathered up my courage and started talking to people. The three ladies in the picture below were all roughly my age, and they were happy to tell me why they were at the rally.

3 ladiespic

One of the ladies talked about her fears for her grandchildren. The other two expressed similar concerns for the future, and were determined to do what they could to ensure that something was done about Climate Change. The sense of urgency was palpable, despite the pristine blue skies and glorious sunshine.

Looking around me I saw  people from every walk of life and every age bracket. If you look closely at the pictures in my previous post, you will see babies and young children, teenagers and young adults, people in their 30’s and 40’s, and lots of people like me. I even saw one placard that read Baby Boomers for Climate Action. Trust me, we Boomers were out in force, and I felt quite at home.

Sadly, a rally of 30,000 people out of a total population of  roughly 4 million is not going to make Tony Abbott lose much sleep. Even if we double that figure to factor in the people who wanted to come but couldn’t, that’s still only 60,000. Again, not enough people power to force any government to rethink its position. That is the bad news.

The good news is that we true believers got to see each other, and the seeing was uplifting. I came away from the rally feeling energized by the knowledge that I wasn’t just some mad dog barking away all by myself. Whether my efforts do any real good is moot, but perhaps the combination of lots of small efforts like mine will make a difference. While there’s life there’s hope. 🙂

And perhaps you out there will find yourselves motivated as well. As one of the speakers at the rally said, if every household in Australia invested in solar power, our reliance on dirty coal would be broken, and we’d save money as well. It’s good to dream. 🙂



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

26 responses to ““There is no skeptic at the end of a fire hose”

  • Catherine

    Oh, dearie me… I’m such an “oldie” that I was a “greenie” even before that word was invented. Of course we put in insulation (and not just in the roof !!!), rainwater tanks etc… not to mention all the energy saving “measures” that are now being shoved down our throats. WOT??? … so you think we didn’t know this already?

    Kind of reminds me of how each new generation tries to “teach grandmother how to such eggs”… 😆 In my earlier days it was the “young uns” trying to convince us, of the “flower power” generation, that THEY had invented s-e-x… 😯 Now it’s the energy conservation “preachers” and I want to YELL out that I am of the first generation, after the horrors of the “Great Depression”, and you think that I don’t know how to minimise the use of power and be frugal in all aspects of my life??? Not to mention that, now I’m trying to survive on a measly aged pension, I’d hardly be wasting dosh is stupid ways…

    The prob with many of us, here in South Oz, is that a decade and a half ago a liberal government who promised not to “privatise” our Electricity Market, was elected on that promise, and immediately did the opposite. Of course energy prices skyrocketed and just keep on shooting up. Why wouldn’t they?

    Call me a “Pollyanna” and that’s OK… it wouldn’t be the first time that accusation has been hurled my way but I am amazed at how seriously so many young people take these types of issues on board and do their absolute best, often in trying circumstances, to bring about positive and lasting change for the benefit of our planet and all whom live upon it 🙂

    Colour me happy.


    • acflory

      -hugs- We have a lot in common Catherine! My family arrived in Australia with one teddy bear and the clothes we stood up in [1957]. We ended up owning our own house but my parents never owned a car – very unAustralian!

      I’ve lived through prosperous times and frugal times, and in some ways I find the frugal times easier so the movement to reduce our consumer footprint is fairly comfortable for me.

      I guess the point at which I’m not so hopeful is with the young. Many of them may ‘believe’, but how many would be prepared to give up their high tech gadgets and conveniences to live a more frugal life?

      Of course having said that, there’s no way in the wide world I’d want to give up my internet connection, or my Kindle, or even the not-so-loved smartphone I have [because it has the CFA app on it].

      I hope the best for the future but I’m not sure I believe it will happen. 😦


  • EllaDee

    I’m a believer in climate change… who could not be? But, not Climate Change, the Corporate Business and [some of] the Experts [who signs their pay cheques?… follow the money trails]. Hence I’m still sceptical re solar power whose industries get/got huge grants and subsidies. And there is the question re the environmental cost of production and disposal of the products as well as their efficiency and longevity before needing to be replaced. Added to that there is currently no Australian made product. As with it all, too many questions, and the only answer I can come up with is less consumption and more efficiency. Both for individuals and for businesses of any kind, industrial or otherwise.
    Whether we attribute the weather patterns to climate change or Mother Nature, the reality is humankind is $hitting in its own nest, and we know it. So-called progress involves pillaging the planet for profit. My huge concern is that the only incentive for change will be more profit, or in desperation, loss thereof, and that could be a while coming, if ever.
    Meanwhile, there is a growing concern amongst individuals, like us, who exist within the infrastructure, see the perils, and try to make a difference. That at least is something… I’m beginning to understand guerilla warfare.
    Only a short comment, for a huge issue that flummoxes me.


    • acflory

      I’m not completely sure of my facts re solar but I remember a few years back a segment on the ABC looking at an aussie company that was not only making solar but innovating it as well. Said company could get no financial help here so they were forced to go offshore. Sound familiar? Many of the solar panels we’re now importing probably come from that original company with foreign backing.

      My issues with solar are that it needs to be cheaper still – so people can install /enough/ panels to truly pay for themselves. I know that what I have isn’t really enough, and my panels are probably ‘average’.

      The other issue is that the generous feed in tariff has now been withdrawn. We still get money back for power we feed into the grid but it’s less than the KWH cost of drawing power /from/ the grid. Only govt intervention can change that and give people more incentive to invest.

      If we had zillions of solar panels feeding the grid during the day [when industry needs and uses it most] the dirty power plants would only have to generate power for the night time demand. Btw, power plants can’t store electricity so they literally have to make it on demand.

      If that happy scenario were to come true, we’d be cutting our emissions substantially without having to change the plants we have atm. That’s not a good thing but at least it is doable.

      Unfortunately, coal has a huge lobby with govt. Solar doesn’t. Or wind or wave.

      -sigh- And the biggest problem is the lack of political will. I really can’t forgive the Greens for not supporting the original ETS. For all its faults [whatever they may have been] it would have created a much stronger foundation for change than the Carbon Tax.

      Abbott was so very clever. He made people believe the Carbon Tax was causing their electricity costs to skyrocket when in fact it was industry updating old infrastructure and passing the costs along to consumers. So those costs would have happened anyway but most people got conned. 😦

      Meh..sry, that was a very long reply. Gotta run now or I’ll be late for class!


    • metan

      I agree with EllaDee, less consumption and more efficiency. Call me cynical, but I expect that things like solar panels are something many people have to tell themselves they are living a green life but use purely to reduce their electricity bill. They are not actually reducing their use of the things that consume electricity, rather, it gives them free range to plug in even more!

      Solar panels have a 20ish year life span so I really worry what will happen in the next 20-30 years when they start becoming less efficient. Will we have come up with some sort of green agreement that has reduced emissions and gone some way to reversing the damage done to the environment, only for the disposal of the mountains of old panels to create a whole new problem?

      Will people not notice the panels dying and just go on expecting that they are working the same way while inadvertently using more and more of whatever fuels our power industry then?

      Which country will be the third world hell where the old solar panels are sent to be ‘recycled’ by the exploited poor?

      Sorry about that *stepping off soapbox* climate change is something that has become a way for some organisations to make money and others use it to get all self-righteous without coming up with realistic solutions….. I despair of anything being properly done about the way humans waste resources before it is far too late… Sigh….


      • EllaDee

        I am relieved you jumped on your soap box… I am a solar panel sceptic, especially after hearing about the ‘deals’ people signed up to. A far better deal, albeit with its own issues, was the roof insulation scheme. We had the ceiling at TA insulated resulting in a noticeable warmer/cooler house interior. Ditto for whirly birds, should be fitted to every roof.
        I LOVE your last paragraph… 🙂


        • metan

          The roof insulation scheme was a good one, the problems with it were unfortunate but, unsurprisingly, caused by people trying to make a buck without taking proper responsibility for their actions. (As much as people wanted to they can’t blame the govt for it, although they took the rap for others greed.)

          Do to an inconveniently exploding hot water system we got the solar hot water rebate at the time and that precluded us from getting the insulation rebate… Grrrr…

          We ended up paying for it on our own and getting wool batts which we felt were a better option, although frighteningly expensive, as both the Man and Number 2 have asthma and the thought of having irritants raining down through the exhaust fans was not a happy one. The difference in the temperature in the house was immediately noticeable, the same amount if wood warmed the entire house for a change, (even the toilet!) and it stayed cooler in the heat.

          We aren’t doing the planet any good living our constantly consuming lives but I can’t imagine first world people changing their ways, or why those in the third world shouldn’t be allowed the immediate access to resources we take for granted. Where is the limit of what we can all have while still living fairly?

          Eeek! Sorry Meeks, I think that soapbox must be glued to my shoes…. 😉


      • acflory

        Just have to jump in here a little. I think you can be green /and/ benefit from solar [or whatever green tech]. Realistically, the only way any of the green industries will ever be able to compete with dirty ones like coal is if ordinary people can see a tangible benefit from them for their own lives.

        We may want to save the world but we’ll always start from home first. That’s just human nature. But with some clever thinking that very trait could be made to work /for/ the world as well. Don’t give up hope!


        • metan

          Oh yes, I think that there are people out there who are installing solar panels with the best of intentions, it is just when you see a dozen of them on a huge house with all the lights blazing you have to wonder how aware they are of what they are doing.

          I like the idea of solar panels on every house, I just wonder how polluting that really is during manufacture and disposal. 😦


          • acflory

            Oh I see what you mean. I guess we can only hope they’re using energy efficient light bulbs instead of those halogen ones.;)

            I think though, our only choices are between greater and lesser ‘evils’. That’s one reason I’m so against nuclear power. I see it as short term gain completely negated by the damage nuclear waste /will/ cause to the future. Plus there’s the example of Fukushima… 😦


  • Catherine

    We also had a great turn out here, in Adelaide, for the rally which was held simultaneously right across Australia. Brilliant!!!

    When our new Prime Minister, who doesn’t believe in the Climate Change bizzo, chose as one of his first Prime Ministerial actions to sack Tim Flannery and the Climate Control Commission 🙄 I was proud that so many Australians donated heaps of $’s to set up a non-government “Climate Council” which involves Dr Tim Flannery and many others. Aim is to keep the information flowing and keep the public fully informed as to the latest research etc…

    I’m proud to be a founding member… anyone can make a donation or even just follow their facebook page:


    Hopefully the link below will take you through to quite an interesting poster:

    Cheerio for now…


    • acflory

      Thank you Catherine! In the intro to Tim Flannery on Sunday there was mention of the Climate Council but until then all I’d heard was that they were forming one, not how it would be funded. I’ll have to dig a little deeper into my pockets and give them some support. With Abbott’s policy of restricting information in so many areas we need as much info as we can get!


  • dvberkom

    Interesting post, AC. Weather patterns have indeed changed–we’ve been seeing instances of different species of birds and insects here in the Pacific Northwest, and the plants are changing, as well. Winters are becoming milder and spring is earlier. There’s no denying climate change–and science tells us the acceleration of that change has been given a boost through human actions. The latest typhoon in the Philippines, not to mention Katrina and Sandy should be testament to this.

    I fear it’s later than most people think, and I’m not one to be an alarmist. The canary in the coal mine has long been dead. Earth will do her job and try to regulate herself. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom, though. Human beings can learn to respect their environment. These extreme events should hasten the learning curve.


    • acflory

      Like you I fear we may have missed the boat already but I’m not so sure the human race can adapt as quickly as it may have to. Accepting the problem is the first step in any adaptation yet we can’t even seem to do that. My fear is that when things get to crisis point, the solutions will all be bad. I really hope I’m proven wrong.


  • Carrie Rubin

    Whether one believes it’s man-made or not, it’s hard to deny weather changes are happening. Like you, I’ve seen it in my own lifetime. And I suspect we humans have indeed had something to do with it…


  • Candy Korman

    The extremity of individual storms often gets pushed aside. Maybe when those extreme weather events are happening all the time, the message will finally be received? Of course, I hope that realization comes before it’s too late.


    • acflory

      Yes, it’s the frequency of these events that is the real clue. I mean we’ve had extreme events in the past but they were isolated events. Here in Australia we call them 100 year fires or floods or whatever. But now they’re accelerating, and this is just the beginning.

      I can understand why no government wants to tackle the problem in a pro-active way. I just hope they’re capable of reacting fast enough when the $hit hits the fan.


  • davidprosser

    It’s truly amazing the progress made since you were a child. Inventing electricity, then fans to use it, I could goon all day- and probably do.
    I’m guessing that for all their pretence at being globally conscious, our Governments know either we’ve gone too far down the road of messing up the climate change to really want to do anything or as some speculate,they know that this is one of the world’s natural cycles of change- a new ice age- and they can’t do anything about it.
    I personally believe that even if our burning carbon fuels etc hasn’t created the problems we’re seeing, they’ve certainly made matters worse and since we CAN do something about that,we should. Since cleaner fuels are being used in cars they should hurry up and make cars that don’t need bio fuels at all. Since solar power is a proven ( and wind and wave) we need to get a move on and ensure every property has the means to stop using coal and electricity created from the use of fossil fuels. Many countries have an agreement in place to start making a future feasible for our children but we need to get more on board. Not least the US who don’t seem keen on making too many changes.I wonder if they know we’re already too late?
    xxx Huge Hugs and more power( green) to you xxx


    • acflory

      I don’t pretend to understand the science but from what I’ve gathered, the evidence for man made climate change is based on a huge cross section of data from all sorts of diverse fields. The one I particularly like is the ice core samples. Like you though, I think reducing the muck we put into the atmosphere is already reason enough, and who wants to play Russian roulette with something as big as global climate? Fingers crossed we never get to the point where we can say ‘told you so’ because by then it really will be too late.


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