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  • My experience is zero in comparison to the realities for Aborigines.To understand the realities they must live with among their friends and relatives,please watch this podcast:
  • This poem was posted on behalf of a fellow mugger. You can find more of his work by searching the archives for "Poet Laureate Joe" or clicking here.Animals on the Road Seeing dead animals on the road almost makes me cry.And when I see them, I often have ...
  • A little birdy told me that the video tutorial we have on adding a video to posts goes too quickly to follow. I looked at it and realized I didn't even caption it or give any instructions beyond what's shown on film. Oops. I'll include that video at the e...
  • Unaware   I have loved you a zillion ways, unaware, from infancy to aging days, unaware.   You’re the life-force in a lover’s eyes while he spends his semen making babies, unaware.   I see you in the Corella’s so...
  • For now, i have no idea where my life is going. I have no lead. Its like pointless.Maybe it will improve, maybe not. I have no idea. 
  • The drought, which has lasted three years and been the most severe ever recorded in Australia, has be due to the effects of an El Niño in the Indian Ocean, exacerbated by climate change and global warming.On January 14th, the El Niño switche...
  • I wrote these to perform at the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup - my first attempt at entering this competition which has a $2,000 first prize.I knew ahead of time that I hadn't a hope of winning. Just as well that was my purpose. My goal was to enjoy...

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Element 99
Randy D


Updated - fire storm

  • The drought, which has lasted three years and been the most severe ever recorded in Australia, has be due to the effects of an El Niño in the Indian Ocean, exacerbated by climate change and global warming.

    On January 14th, the El Niño switched to a La Niña. This happens when a flare on the Sun dies out.
    In my experience, there's usually a lag time before the changes are felt. But this time it came on the 16th, rain at last - soon increasing to heavy rain - the only thing with the power to extinguish the vast size of the bushfires.
    Already there are floods in my area. The Pacific Hwy at Chinderah in my area is underwater, and many other areas have had catastrophic floods. Swings from drought to flood and back have always been a feature of Australian geography, but climate change has accelerated the rate of the swings, and the size and the severity of the effects.

    It had covered most of the entire East Coast of Australia. The fire emergency is over. But the La Niña has not yet reached the inner farmlands where most of our food production occurs - the major part of the drought persists.

    Ecologists estimate that it would take at least one hundred years for the lost trees to regrow to their previous size. In the meantime, the carbon they would have absorbed from the atmosphere will remain free, adding to global warming, and the oxygen they would have exhaled we will never breathe.

    I am feeling intense relief that the immediate emergency is finally over. It's selfish.
    For those who were trapped in it, the devastation is shattering. Many were underinsured; the cost of building has skyrocketed. They will never be able to rebuild. Businesses have been left in ruin and their employees left without work. Insurance has risen beyond affordability.

    And this is just the beginning of the tipping point in climate change.
    Though well and truly warned, few people are capable of imagining what is to come.

    copied from "I See You" on Facebook

    I see you, Scott Morrison.

    I see the everyman grin of your press shots, the grifter’s confidence oozing out of your pores like cheap aftershave. You weren’t supposed to be here, were you? Nobody expected much but you squeaked your way through, surviving the brutal spin cycle of recent Australian politics by simple merit of being the least dead kitten in the tumble dryer at the end of it. It was invigorating for a bit, refreshing your faith in your good old-fashioned Christian principles like ‘thou shalt mercilessly persecute immigrants.’ You got to stand next to Peter Dutton, the one Halloween decoration in a mob lawyer’s office brought to life by the sheer power of money, shaking hands and signing off on a medevac repeal bill that does nothing but underline your contempt for those suffering on Nauru. I must have missed the bit in the Bible where Jesus told his followers to needlessly deny urgent medical care to immigrants on the utterly debunked basis that it somehow prevents drownings at sea.

    That sort of spin’s been your most powerful weapon so far, Scott Morrison. Your wobbly tenure has been dependent on the support of a Murdoch press happy to spread disinformation and turn dogwhistle politics into blaring foghorns. It’s almost impressive that you’re a politician of such little actual substance, so totally devoid of basic human intuition that your complete failure to get a grip on the wildfire crisis has exposed you as a fraud even with the backing of that desiccated psychopath.

    That you are utterly and hopelessly out of your depth is writ large in the defeated slope of your shoulders as you bumble around the victims, desperately grabbing at hands for succour like a toddler who’s lost his mum in Disneyworld. I thought you were the PR guy, the marketing genius who could sell any old shit? You seem to have forgotten the golden rule of populism, Scott Morrison. The whole point of immigrant-blaming, elite-bashing and cosying up to fossil fuel lobbyists in the name of economic growth is that it's meant to actually make you popular. Instead you’re floating around like a turd in a tidal wave of public outrage, baffled as to quite why people are no longer falling for your charms.

    If there was a moment that perfectly encapsulated quite how you’re doing such an atrocious job, it came on Kangaroo Island. Corrected over a mistake about there being no loss of life, instead of showing any humility you grasped desperately for a lie, claiming you were only talking about firefighters. When confronted with your own incompetence your first instinct is to gloss over an error rather than apologise and accept it, whether the lie is mumbled directly into the grieving faces of those suffering or through your intermediaries when trying to pretend you aren’t on holiday.

    That you’re a total fraud should be no real surprise, given the way you’ve typified the approach of the modern right-wing populist. Arts and culture has no value, human rights are of no concern, immigrants are all dangerous criminals, government money shouldn’t be released to volunteer firefighters until Labor ratchet up the pressure and under no circumstances - ever - should it be uttered that maybe, just maybe, climate change might be contributing a teeny-tiny thing or two to the fact the entire country is on fire.

    It’s a grubby job, Scott Morrison, defending the iron grip of the coal lobby in the face of such a colossal and burning pile of evidence. You're so deep in their pocket you can smell their dick through the fabric. But if there’s one man who’ll roll up his sleeves and crack on with it, it’s you - just as soon as you’ve finished your margarita and the luau’s ended, obviously.

    I see you, Scott Morrison, sweat pouring from your brow as you trudge through the ash, embers swirling around you. Back at the beach there are men, women and children waiting for rescue, the very horizon burning like some Dantean vision. If there’s one thing they desperately need right now it’s leadership and you know just what to do, don’t you? There’s only one thing that can help them now.

    I see you approach the boulder, rubbing your hands together before bracing your back against it. I see you push, veins straining on your temples, your heels slipping in the powdered ash. It’s a steep one, the hill of public opinion, but no matter how much it might feel like you’re a fucking idiot pursuing a fucking idiot’s solution, you’re utterly committed to your cause.

    You’ll never give up, Scott Morrison, never give in, never stop pushing. You know what’s on offer if you can just get it all the way to the summit. I see you strain and heave, panting, alone on the hill you’ve decided to die on.

    I feel the boulder rock to a stop and I see you punch the air as you step back to admire it, the sweat drenching your shirt. It’s a huge thing, utterly black as the burning sky. You did it - you got it here, and soon everyone will see just how right you are.

    I see your eyes widen as the boulder starts to slip on the powdered ground, Scott Morrison. I see you turn to run as it starts careering back down the hill towards you, its shadow covering you as it roars and rumbles its threats to crush you under its embrace.

    It’s just a lump of coal, Scott Morrison. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared. It won’t hurt you.

    I see you, Scott Morrison. I fucking see you.

    Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, suit and eyeglasses

    My comment -
    Of course, it wasn't the "whole country" on fire on the date of that entry -
    but as of 14 January 2020, fires this season have burnt 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres; 186,000 square kilometres; 72,000 square miles),
    destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes),
    downed two helicopters, one light plane and one heavy airtanker - due to the updrafts of mini-tornadoes created by the fires,
    killed at least 34 people, including 3 American volunteer firefighters,
    and brought 40 previously endangered species of native animals to the brink of extinction.
    Despite the efforts of vets, volunteers and government grants, there is no guarantee that the remaining survivors will survive their burns or have sufficient numbers to breed up.
    Up to 100,000 sheep burned to death in the bushfires on Kangaroo Island. A further 2500 had to be euthanased.
    Professor Christopher Dickman of Sydney University estimates that around 800 million livestock died in the fires in New South Wales animals, and more than one billion nationally.

    ~ ~ ~
    Sat, 4th Jan, 2000
    To clarify. I am out of danger now. At the beginning of the season, I was surrounded by major fires on three sides (Pacific Ocean on the 4th).
    The closest were only half an hour away - touch a go - a spark on the wind could have landed here and that would have been enough to put my place into flames. There would have been no available resources to prevent disaster because they were all away fighting the bigger fires.

    I was so terrified I could feel and hear my heart thumping in my chest. The adrenaline and nerves kept me awake for four days, watching the news whenever I wasn't tending the horses or organising for evacuation. At the time, back in November, Ari was on a road trip to attend a friend's 60th b'day party in Sydney. He narrowly missed getting caught by the fires in the Tamworth, Wingham, Lake Macquarie area. My heart eased when the worst of the fires had died down - though their embers are still burning and old trees still collapsing.

    Now the firestorm has moved 1,450 kilometres (kms) further south, down on the border from NSW and into Victoria, from the coast up into the Snowy Mountains.
    Down there the powerlines and telecommunications have been out for days. The infrastructure has melted and burned.
    People are relying on radio.
    A state of emergency has been declared, which means that people can be forcibly evicted and their farm equipment can be commandeered.
    Many people, especially the old, believe that if they stay they can fight the fires. They don't realise the order of magnitude. They fought ordinary bushfires in the past and they know they're good at it.
    The firestorm creates its own weather. It heats up the atmosphere and the ground for a great distance around it, causing wild winds and tornadoes of fire twisting up in columns. It causes dry lightning that starts new fires all around and then they join up.
    28 people have been reported missing. More than 100,000 people with their pets have been evacuated. They're camping, and now being told they need to move further west again.
    People have moved livestock to agricultural showgrounds in the west The logistics for getting feed and water to them are phenomenal. Actually only the best breeding stock. The numbers of livestock are too large.
    Army, navy and airforce have finally been sent in to help. (The PM wouldn't even have thought of that if everybody had pressured him and insisted.) Firefighting crews and equipment have come in from overseas. It will not be enough. The focus is on trying to save towns. Outlying properties will have little or no chance of survival.
    Emergency centres are getting well organised, with millions of donations in money, food, pet food, medicines, toiletries, clothing and bedding pouring in from Australian citizens and businesses.
    Our idiot Prime Minister, Scott Morrison (Scomo), was caught taking a secret  fortnight's holiday in Hawaii. "Nero fiddled while Rome burned." Scomo has said things like "It's a matter for the states, not me." "We've always had fires; this is nothing new." Everything he has said has shown a lack of understanding on every level and a total lack of compassion for the people, businesses, farmers, animals, and ecologies affected.
    Smoke is choking communities, including our national capital, Canberra. Air quality is 10 times the safe level of pollution. 
    The smoke released by the fires in the last four days is estimated to be 60% of our annual emissions, large enough to increase the rate of global warming.
    Most of what has gone up is old growth native forest - trees which helped to absorb CO2 and emit oxygen - so their absence will contribute to an increase in the rate of climate change.
    Eucalypts are very slow-growing. It will take 100 years for these trees to regain the same size.

    So far I've only been talking about the biggest fire.
    There are others in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland - and they too are out of control. The whole of Kangaroo Island is threatened - unique wildlife species will not survive. The cows.

    Today is predicted extreme fire danger, 46ºC in the shade, zero humidity and high winds. These conditions are now called "catastrophic." It means that uncontrollable fires are a certainty.

    I've been crying.

    ~ ~ ~
    2nd January 2020.
    Now 1,298 homes destroyed, 15 people dead including 3 volunteer firefighters and 3 American volunteer firefighters,
    far more injured and burned, fires raging in all states except the Northern Territory, some fire threating to join.
    Area burnt now 30,688 km², the same as the area of Belgium.
    The wind in firestorms have flipped two seven-tonne fire trucks on their rooves, one in the Blue Mountains and Mallacoota. Two firemen died.
    Supermarkets emptied, diesel fuel run out with people trying to prepare.

    4,000 people are stranded on the beach in Mallacoota, with towering walls of fire on all sides. Navy about to be sent in to evacuate them.
    The army has been brought in to evacuate people in remote areas. They don't have the resources to reach everyone. Many people are not insured because they can't afford it.
    These statistics cannot touch the level of threat.
    The sky goes vermillion red as a fire approaches. Then it turns brown or black, blotting out the daylight, the sun a crimson disk just visible through the smoke. The fire roars like a jet coming down to land. The smoke gets so thick people can't see three metres ahead. Very hard to breath. Everyone with sore eyes and throats. Many admitted to hospital with asthma and heart conditions. Many roads closed - too dangerous to try to escape. Fire on all sides.
    Entire herds of dairy cows and herd animals now starving.
    Wildlife carers calling for more towels and home-sewn pouches for baby marsupials.
    Some endangered species will very likely become extinct.
    The smoke, blowing eastwards is covering the sky in New Zealand.
    Still only the start of summer; the weather conditions set to get worse.

    ~ ~ ~

    Image may contain: outdoor

    It's tempting for many people to think that what happens far away is of less concern - but think of the California fires.
    Think of the fires in the Arctic and Brazil.
    Fires around the world are increasing in frequency, size and severity.
    This is one of the ways a greenhouse feedback loop. The higher temperatures dry out the vegetation, making fires easier to start. The carbon-dioxide from the fires works to increase the entrapment of the Sun's heat below the stratosphere.
    Thus a fire on one side of the world affects conditions everywhere else.

    Image may contain: sky, tree, night, outdoor and nature
    Image may contain: outdoor and nature
    Image may contain: sky, fire, outdoor and nature

    Australia is experiencing unprecedented wildfires - bushfires, we call them here.
    They are so fierce and so vast in hight and area that they create their own climate - inducing lightening which creates yet more fires.
    Four people have burned to death; tens are missing. 259 homes in NSW alone have been destroyed, many others severely damaged.
    Over 1 million hectares have been burnt out, 1% of NSW's forests - which gives some idea of the disasters still ahead of us over the summer.
     - Update 16the Nov 2019 - 6 people dead, 415 homes destroyed, 1.5 million hectares burned, 4 cases of arson proven but most fires starting from natural sources.
       Some fire-fighters injured and burned. Many others suffering exhaustion. Weather conditions in most areas predicted to worsen.
       Donations pouring in to help those who've lost their homes and farms.

    As yet the count of dead farm animals, domestic pets and wildlife is unknown. An estimated 340 koalas dead. This marsupial is listed as critically endangered. Many of the wounded and burned have been collected up by trained wildlife volunteers who are caring for them in their own homes.
    The NSW firestorm has been declared a "success" by expert firefighters due to excellent warning services, advice, and preparation. What they mean is that the disaster could have been far worse.
    Over 77 major fires are still burning across NSW, contained but likely to take over a week to burn out their fuel loads. Yesterday's worst fires have been downgraded to "watch and act;" wind-driven cinders could cause them to re-ignite in neighbouring areas. Four other fires, including one near my area, are still out of control.
    My university, at the Southern Cross Lismore campus, has suspended all classes and opened itself as an emergency evacuation centre.

    The firefront is shifting north today due to changing weather conditions. Queensland and other states are still at the catastrophic level.
    Four adults and one child have been charged with arson, although most of the fires had natural causes.
    The worst affected areas at present are the states of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
    Several years of the worst drought on record have left forests tinder-dry with tonnes of leaf litter on the ground.
    Even the stubs of grazed down grasslands burn like turpentine across the ground.
    Flames tower as high as four-story buildings. It is no exaggeration to describe the scenes as apocalyptic. They melt titanium.

    Nearly one thousand specialist-trained volunteer fire-fighters are out there fighting, working in teams and shifts.
    New Zealand has sent 40 of its firefighters - a welcome return of the same favours we have done for them during their worst fires.
    The army and airforce have been called out to provide back up services.
    These include;
    radio communications where power lines have been severed and mobile phone towers melted to the ground,
    helicopter rescues for families and pets in remote areas,
    aerial water bombing,
    tent accommodation, canteens and supplies for evacuees,
    and bulldozing of fire containment lines.
    In communities across the country, locals in safer zones are volunteering to provide back-up services such as asylum spaces, food, drink, clothing, toiletries.
    WIRES (wildlife rescue volunteers) have their houses full of burned marsupials, especially koalas which are at risk of extinction, tending them around the clock.

    Australia has a fire season every year, but this year it has begun three months earlier than usual.
    An El Niño in the Indian Ocean is deepening and worsening; it is the source of the drought that has created the conditions that favour the fires.
    This is only the beginning. The Bureau of Meteorology predicted that the conditions for catastrophic fires will increase over the coming summer.

    My home area is presently declared to be at high risk. That means I'm not in immediate risk, but conditions could change at any moment with a shift in the wind.
    One of the most major fires at Mt Nardi is only one hour away from where I live, close enough that a change in the winds could blow embers my way and ignite the forests around me.

    By chance, Ari is away in Sydney - currently rated as 'catastrophic' level of danger. A major fire at Turramurra, only 12 k's from the CBD, was rapidly put out after 8 hours of major water bombing yesterday. Fortunately, Ari is not in one of the most prone suburbs.
    I will spend today preparing for evacuation.
    I need a week's worth of feeds made up for the horses, portable fencing, water, cat food and equipment, camp gear, identity papers, computer, clothes, etc.
    If the evacuation warning comes, I will have to load the animals and travel 25 kilometres - at least half of it through forest - to reach the nearest safe area in the town of Murwillumbah.
    Getting out early would be our only chance of survival.
    Our metal shack would melt to the ground - my irreplaceable library lost. We have no insurance - not enough income to afford it.

    It is a sickening feeling - this sorrow for the others who have suffered, this anxiety for myself and my animals.

    This is what climate change looks like -- and we are only at the beginning of an exponential feedback loop. :(



    Dear Bookie, 

    I wanted to wait until I had a day off with ability to focus before I read any of your more lengthy pieces because there is always a load of good info there and I want to absorb at least the brunt of it.

    Book, this is so terrifying.  I am not going to come back on this particular blog and bring more bad news, but I AM GOING TO PAY ATTENTION to what you are saying and what I have been trying so desperately to ignore.  Here is why.  I am also scared about disease due to horrid growing conditions, lack of land due to animal slaughter and production, and just horribly denatured food.  That causes cancer.  That is a BIG DEAL.  But what good is food if you cannot breathe?  And our air is also polluted with the FILTHY RICH dictating what favored companies that buy power from the powerful.... well THEY  can do whatever they need to save their own money and  to pollute the air around us.  

    You get the picture, Book, I'm sure.  WHERE DO WE BEGIN TO STOP THIS?  IT IS ALMOST TOO LATE.  We are on the brink of HELL on EARTH and I pray we find SOME MIRACLE.  Because that is what it will take.  Thank you so much for this message, unpleasant as it may be.  

    I will take pieces of it away with me and use it for reference that is for sure.

    November 28, 2019 - 2 like this

  • inky
    Hi Sharonna,
    My real life name is Manna, and you're welcome to use it with me on the Mug if you wish.I

    'm a member of the Greens Party in Australia, which is somewhat left of the Labour Party.
    Our Labour corresponds most closely in policies to your Democrats.
    The Greens stand for the environment and social justice.
    Although we are a small party and have no hope of becoming the governing power, nevertheless we do get several of our representatives into office.
    Whenever the government has only a tiny majority, the smaller parties and independents get a much bigger say. They can veto legislation entirely, or they can force amendments to mitigate the worst effects of something they don't like.
    Unfortunately, at the moment, like you, we have a right-wing government in power at the Federal level and in most of our states.

    Placing political pressure on representatives is one of the hardest ways to make a positive difference.
    Most pollies are very resistant and have developed thick skins against activists.
    Nevertheless, activism does, in the long term, work. The suffragettes are just one of many examples of proof.
    And applying pressure at the political level is necessary. By swaying the majority of voters, in the end the pollies will be forced to listen.
    This is possible. The worse climate change gets, the more people will be forced to recognise the reality of it.
    It is the single biggest issue affecting the survival and well-being of every living being on this planet.
    The drought and these fires have been so bad that I believe many people, including the normally right-voting farmers, are likely to vote the right out of power at our next elections.

    What can we do?
    The answers are many.
    One, we can - bit by bit - change our lives so that we live the greenest life possible.
    Are you in Arizona? Arizona has some great alternative and green communities - many live in earth-ships out in the desert. They have adapted their houses and home-grown food-farming to their environment. Lots of fresh air out there.
    Are you living in a big city - Phoenix or Tuscon? It's much harder to be green in the cities - but there are ways.
    I'm sure you've heard of co-housing - it's quite big in the states.
    It's likely that there would be more than one co-housing community in the city where you live. The accommodation is architect-designed to be carbon-neutral in materials and construction. It is much cooler in summer, much warmer in winter. It uses solar hot water and power. These communities compost their food and bodily waste into the veggie gardens, recycle their greywater, and reuse or recycle 99% of the rest of their waste.
    We can give up cars, ride bicycles, walk and catch buses and trains. We can also live closer to where we work.
    Or change our work and move to live in a healthier environment.

    One study in the States showed that the most effective way to convert others to green living is to set an example. Friends see how well it works - cheaper, healthier, more comfortable, more aesthetically pleasing - and they start to do the same.
    By living green, we show politicians and business that we walk our talk - we are sincere and deeply committed.
    Business notices when we shun carbon-expensive products and buy green. In fact, many businesses are starting to realise that unless they go green they will fail. They are working on transition now.

    It is too late to stop climate change.
    The only thing we can do now is to slow the momentum.
    If the world started with every possible measure today it would still take 100 years to begin to slow the momentum and then start to return it to its natural rate.
    But this doesn't mean that it's impossible, or not worth making the effort.
    If we don't make the effort then we are part of the problem.
    To save our own psychological well-being, we need to be part of the solution as best we can.

    P.S. Not all my blogs are so bleak. Not all are so long.
    My next will probably be a poem.

    November 28, 2019 - 1 likes this

    Manna. What a neat name.  I love it.   I will be happy to call you that.  
    November 28, 2019 - 1 likes this

  • officegirl
    Question - does a fire exist if we are not there to view, experience, and record it?  Answer - of course it does.  There have always been fires and they have often been regular and seasonal and destroyed large areas and killed wildlife.  But with no humans there to experience and record them and  suffer from them they went largely unnoticed.  The vegetation patterns which were in place 200 to 250 years ago in North America testify to frequent and often large and very destructive fires.  And there was no one there to fight them and try to stop them so they burned unharried except by natural forces. 

    Now our populations have so increased by our will to survive and make things better that there are few uninhabited places remaining.  So that when fires occur, whether natural or human-made they can't help but be noticed. 

    We cut down the forests to make more space for human habitation and the lack of forest areas dries out the land as it less well holds water and humidity. 

    People want to feel they are personally powerful and if they are not able to feel that in constructive ways they can resort to destruction to gain that feeling.  One of the easiest ways is by setting a fire.  There are whole groups of people who feel it is hip not to be concerned about the possible consequences of their actions.  They admire such a flip attitude. 

    Anything we do affects not only us but the entire planet.  But it is only human to want to strive to make our lives better.  And therein lies the dilemma.  The global warming is to a large extent the fruit of our striving.  So the only way it can be turned around is by mass murder or mass suicide which I doubt most people are going to buy into. 

    December 1, 2019 - 1 likes this

  • inky
    inky officegirl
    All excellent points. Thank you, officegirl.
    December 1, 2019