Monday, October 21, 2013

The biggest fire risk ever

This is the theme of many observers of the fires in NSW this week, but they are wrong ; Worse, they are misreporting the risk as stated by the Authorities wanting them to state the above when they don't want to put it that way - read the reports of these fires in six months time if you doubt my assertion TODAY

It is apparently true that a 300 km fire front "could develop" but too easy to push the facts - unlikely according that such a front would happen . Impossible if you know the hills , the moisture content , the wind changes and the weather changes and night come on changes to limit combustion  and edge and spot over requirement.
The service at least knows the limits imposed on any disaster by those complexities and certainties;The service is not in a panic . Yet they are reported ( sort of) to be !
The less you know the more you are prone to fear - helps explain why the media are in a panic at the moment (21 October 2013).
The reason they should shut up and listen to the ordered evacuation and other info from controllers ( not there own reporters) is simply that emergencies like this require orderly evacuation by those who know both site variations ,timing and the many risk factors operating hour to hour, day to day .

If it was a fire in a theatre, the media could easily have instigated irrational action if not mass manic and more deaths than necessary.
The people most at risk are also those who chose not to protect themselves ,,so how can we help them . The reality is that people who show no common sense (Fire authorities call for 30 metre clearance around houses to protect them and have always done that )have to be dragged kicking and screaming directly - generalized messages only exaggerate the danger of cry wolf  .

Friday, August 2, 2013

How to prevent people from being broken -don't ask a bookeeper; its only a book entry to them

People who have spend a lot of time on TV and the media and in Public life,( was good to see a health care person on thedrum tonight) often don't get the reality check that their stupid ignorant and arrogant advice can cause great personal disaster .

I don't expect they could or should always know or care , but a life in the life of 2 ledgers, or relying on that class,  is a dangerous thing.When you have power you need to know some of the dumb consequences your advice creates - whoever you are.  

When Peter Martin from SMH talks up economic confidence after a huge additional budget deficit announcement today he's only doing what all students of the monster are doing - trying to keep confidence up .
Economists are not God and its madness to even give em a leg up when medicine of the big picture is required-----as wannabes  seem to do when they get desperate.( as if the Federal treasury knows all for eg )
The reality is that the media talk with confidence too much as if they understand or half understand ;  Even great new programs like the drum  discourage bad news and so people with a more negative view are "out there in the cold the blogosphere " who publish more responsively, honestly.

The people who do the most work in our economy ( the reality therapists )often  don't get paid - ask any of us who live for competence in ecomia.

ABC should have a random self select feed running under all its programs - make it hilarious but not so serious and certainly not funny - but more honest and useful sustainable real ABC and with much more competence ( without even trying) . The disturbing thing for those of us who know areas to cut is that the ABC always want to always talk macroeco ( deep 2column stuff) and really that's so course as to be plain crass in a prelude to another "crisis". Bad news is not bedtime reading boys .
The "eco" journos who went on to the drum tonight either know this or don't care that they are spending 30 minutes of our time not speaking to the failures - some bad news that could lead us to better news next time .- not practiced , not understood?
For Peter Martin to call schools program a monument is plain careless and discrediting ( reducing his credibility) to fix himself in stone ( buildingsand programs but not skills )too -so what if every kid gets a university degree : how many are using them? Many in charge don't need a degree.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mapping the wolf's habitat

Below is a little fantasy related to real world worriers and how they project their worries onto others. Some people, rather than learn and study risk , worry. If they should happen to become leaders they often insist on sharing their worries ( "we will get sued or eaten") to the great annoyance of those of us who learn to understand risk and get on with living - those who learn to know the boundaries of resilience and degradation . The only relief for our increasingly urban communities is if the worriers stand back and learn to trust those who live with risk all the time . 

A little knowledge is of course, a dangerous thing - esp when it comes to something as complex as our engagement with nature  If you are not properly engaged with nature, you can tend to listen to every bit of noise and worry, because the dynamic of weather alone is always working. Unless you study nature properly you won't know when resilience and boundary protection works or when tooth and claw and basic ecological sensitivity will be ignored by man ( as it often has been ) You will let worry replace wisdom and comfort in your approach to managing risk .
Take those who you try to map the wolf -who try to define his territory ( The Overlay). The wolf  may live in the forest at bit, but his best food source is out there on the plains.  You may think you can predict his territory but the best protection is assuming he roams the whole Shire ( put the triggers in your zones dummies-- not in some broad sweep overlay) If you're smart you don't waste much time looking where he's not likely to be , but because people get careless in the comfort ones you have to have some triggers to prevent disasters in even the safest of "Its people , not natural hazards that are the real worry ( therefore concentrate on use and development triggers ) The users and developers and explorers ALL seem to  get lazy and distracted .
see him coming zones" ( zones and use triggers can do all that  .
18 people died in a unexpected landslide at Thredbo. The area would not have been mapped IN to a landslide overlay zone because landslides don't occur there naturally.  The native soils of less than 2 metres depth are under laid by solid granite.  In Thredbo's case, it was the very poor site management of all the “local lots together " that caused the extreme risk to one of them . Every building in that area can be built completely safely and easily , as solid rock is less than 2 metres below the surface compare to here where there is often “ no solid bottom “)  . Site specific geotechnical reports would not have stopped the disaster as it was poorly planned and integrated road construction, drainage , fill placement that moved the risk level up to disastrous proportions. The deeper people and nature  working together ( integrated planning ) problem  
Once the planning school capital of the world , Victorian leaders have gone off watch in planning . They think they can map half the Shire and look for the enemy in only that hurriedly created boundary .Some animals are wise enough about ecology and life systems to know that permanent boundaries for some things do not exist . Our leaders do this at great expense ( and ongoing great expense) and still the animals .... keep jumping the fence . Forest may be a preferred night time habitat but near food is where they have to live and move .
Overlays  don't work for living things because they have legs ,wings and seeds . Yet the Bauillieu  government made special funding available recently to produce more of these blunt and inefficient planning instruments called overlays .   Most overlays  aren't worth the trouble they cause because habitat or risk now it is only one part of what must always be assessed as bigger territory . The whole is greater than the sum of reports, if you like. Fine if someone is sorting the relevant information from the noise . 
It’s worse than like looking for a needle in a haystack  because these overlays in practice create overkill and overconfidence ( for example : no one expects a fox outside the habitat  lines  when that can clearly still happen) 
In planning , Victoria has gone backwards in adopting the non integrated myopic methods of other States; methods that cause us to cry wolf so much that we don’t have anyone really on watch --in the right place at the right time
We could learn a lot from the wolf - whether we are big or small players
 If you are a referral agency ( under planning and environment act ) all the territory is your responsibility.. You like the authority , but have you accepted the responsibility?  - we will find out if we haven't already.   Keep mapping the risk  yourself but don't risk overkill or overconfidence or confusion by careless publishing the components of the problem as if it was gospel - as if your expertise in marrying things together wasn't something you as public authorities really wanted to share.

Monday, March 4, 2013

His mate the crocodile

Some would have it that we should model ourselves on this hard nut game player and long term  survivor. That would be , though , to limit ourselves .  Maybe we should learn from the animals, not just be them .  An outsider might suggest we have an identity crisis because we are even thinking like this
My point is though here is that we are more like the herd members than thems that lie in wait .
Only God knows how anyone could love sheep or these cattle - they are so easily led and so stupid.

So what's wrong here ? Clearly its our tendency act like a herd member. Exploring but not heeding the warnings. The paradox  is that we don't know things and we are wise to not trust the herd all the time.   Exploring is good for us,  as is exposure to risk .  We need to know where the boundaries really  are  . The universe is a big place - our job is to wander in places that won't increase our fear and our confusion . How do we gain that sense of comfort to know what the real boundaries are ; to walk around them and between them? .

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Anticipating the enemy and just where it hides

Time now for a question that challenges us all ( i think)
What is evil all about ? Clearly I am not the person to answer all your questions ,but with Bonhoeffer's birthday today  , its good to reflect on how he and many other believers saw it coming .

Background .
Who can not want to read a man who was taken off the Radio in Germany 8 years before World War 2 started and , like Solzenitzen went back to suffer in his home country when the West refused to take him seriuosly. Chamberlain thought he knew but Bonhoeffer could see it all coming .

 Because so many don't trust Christians to answer this question objectively and productively,  I suggest starting with a thoughtful and effective politician Edmund Burke and other efcetive people  in democratic history who said ( more or less ) " The greatest evil is done in the name of the best intention'". So , simply , for anyone who wants to give this more than a moment's thought........ its not about what's on the surface ,and, its not just whats underneath but .....what's directly underneath what appears to be good .

Truth is often hidden (Even God hides the truth ---so if you believe what believers believe , you can forget being awefully clever!) .
Remember Eve's desire to know more about this - seems reasonable doesn't it ? The knowledge of the difference between good and evil . Have you ever factored in Hilters , Mussolini .....and Lenin's desire to make the world a fairer place ? Test Burke's assertion with people you know,....... like yourself .

We never know what goes on in other people's minds ( only got to read our own to know we don't want to know - thankfully the evil thoughts in there go no further than headspace , most of the time - I'm speaking for myself of course )

What we do know is that Jesus, Bonhoeffer ,Martin Luther King, Solzenitsen tried to confront the little hitlers,  not with swords, but with words .Herod confronts Jesus with accusations and wastes his words , Pilate confronts Jesus with a question and he answers it . Getting to the truth is hard work but at least then ,we know what we are REALLY fighting over. Games fought over anything but the tough stuff are common . 

 I am posting elsewhere  on just how important it is that we speak up after trying to share my passion for young people getting good jobs yesterday . It's confrontation that we are called to, to DO it , to practice it , to take back what we say when we lose control of our mouths -in love .To know when to open ones mouth and when to shut it and,......... when you have gone too far .

The above men were  angry men --read Matt 11or " Strength to Love "MLK . Be angry , as they were ( passion for right is not wrong ),but don't sin - confront others with the truth in the hope that they might have faith in the power of one and the power of us together ( Tolkein stories come to mind!)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The States use of fear can be really scary

As a competent practical professional environmental risk assessor and passionate advocate for the rural poor  ( 4 decades of work),  I can't bear to watch how politicians and the press use fear to mistarget real and present dangers in favor of giants with feet of clay whom any fool can slay.( see many of my posts on conservation of water and resources , habitat , fire , flood , food production  )
 I spent 30 great years advising State authorities about how to improve and protect the environment.  The job no longer exists because the politics of environment is now the politics of fear. The job no longer exists because the practice of properly warning people with science and risk analysis  is now clearly secondary to  the politics of fear.
I therefore have a problem with both the sheep and the current  shepherds.  
 So what's in store for this year for the sheep - another trumped up issue that we can solve ( or that disappears into the ether before the next election )  another wolf in sheep's clothing , a mere man fighting ghosts.
Readers should know that politicians like nothing better than a problem they can solve - and if it turns out not to be a problem in the first place , all the better , for them .
The West is often vainly worried about something in its own backyard,  when it should be out amongst the sheep in the Middle east or in Africa solving problems that tax our minds , but not our fears.