There was significant damage in Ewingar as a severe fire hit the hills.
There was significant damage in Ewingar as a severe fire hit the hills. Marc Stapelberg

Praying for rain just doesn't cut it

WHAT A truly terrible couple of weeks it's been for so many, but I stop short of offering thoughts and prayers as, quite frankly, they don't really cut it.

My religious views differ vastly from the prime minister's and I see prayer as offering false hope. Perhaps had he not been too busy to attend the meeting requested by fire chiefs in April, Mr Morrison might have been able to do something more than pray.

Here in Australia we have mismanaged our environment, possibly never more so than in the past few decades. As much as I'd like to lay the blame directly at the feet of our god-bothering leader, years of budget-slashing have left us vulnerable to these mega-fires that are rapidly becoming the new norm. Places are burning that have not burned in recorded history.

Three weeks ago I was sending messages of concern to two close friends whose properties were in grave danger, but here's the thing; they live thousands of kilometres apart. One is near Balls Head in NSW, the other north of Sacramento in California. Different hemispheres. Part of our firefighting fleet is still on loan to the US but it's apparent that fire seasons are extending and overlapping. And what use is a plane that can dump water on a blaze if there's no water available?

We are terribly short of water, our most precious commodity, after too many years of drought and mismanagement of river systems. The day will come when there is no water to be dumped on fires; a hose is of no use if nothing comes out of it. After oxygen, water is the basic requirement for life; we can live for weeks without food, but only days without water.

And yet our government persists with the idiocy of giving that essential resource away to foreign interests in order to get coal out of the ground. I, like many, am doing my best to wean myself off fossil fuel because of the obvious environmental hazards but the risk to our dwindling water supply is of equal importance. Billions of litres of water will be removed from aquifers by coal mining companies and may never be replaced.

Down south, the Jerrinja, the saltwater people of Jervis Bay, are asking local, state and federal governments to allow them to manage the land as their ancestors did before our arrival. They want to train their mob to care for Country using ancient tribal burning practices. They, and other indigenous peoples, performed this task successfully for centuries. Now we've stuffed it up so badly, it's time to humbly ask them to fix it.