The forecast maximum temperature for Adelaide today is 42 degrees. South Australia is divided into fifteen 'districts' and the fire warning for two of them is classified as 'Severe'. For five more, it's 'Extreme'. And for the remaining eight, it's 'Catastrophic'.
This new classification system was activated for the first time in the heatwave of mid-November when my tiny home town came under threat. And it was very worrying to see interviews afterwards with people in other parts of rural South Australia who complained 'Oh but it wasn't classed "catastrophic" here so we thought it would be all right.' Others complained that they had been classified as 'catastrophic' -- and at the last minute, too! "They" had kept changing the classification! -- and yet there had been no fire. They were outraged that their lives had been, however briefly, disrupted.
Human nature being what it is, there are a few things about this that are very worrying. One is the dependence mentality that seems already to be setting in, the expectation that there will be full correlation between what's predicted and warned and what actually happens, and that, somehow, magically, "they" should and will fix it all. Another is the apparent ignorance (and I know for a fact that country people are not ignorant about this, so there is clearly some other psychological gremlin present) about the unpredictability of fire conditions and their aptness to change and turn on a sixpence.
And maybe the most dangerous is that suggestion that if the danger is not officially classified 'catastrophic' (code for 'If there's a fire, get out of your house to safety: you can't save it and we can't save you') then there is no danger at all and it's safe to stay home and do nothing. The lure of the false binary is strong, Grasshopper, but in this instance it could lead to unthinkably tragic consequences. If I were the state government I'd be fast-tracking the use of the education department to disseminate clear thinking about fire, warnings, and the limited power to predict and fight fires of the state authorities -- about which, ironically, country people are usually all too sceptical.
In which the pond discovers Baxendale is quiet on oppression, and prattling Polonius feels oppressed ... - Others have observed the recent war going down amongst the more vicious and repetitive and simple-minded reptiles, as in Meade *here* ... *...Lisa Oldfie...
33 minutes ago