TheRecord: ‘Wild experience’ for Kitchener woman rescuing animals in Australia

Feb 14, 2020 by Johanna Weidner Waterloo Region Record

Heidi Bechtold spent three weeks in Australia helping wildlife after the devastating fires. – courtesy Heidi Bechtold

KITCHENER — The koala slid down the hill after dropping out of the tree, stopping right in front of Heidi Bechtold’s feet.

The Kitchener woman caught and held the ailing animal until he could be safely stowed in a bag and taken for veterinary care.

“It was a really cool experience,” Bechtold said. “They actually named this koala after me.”

Bechtold arrived home on Monday after three weeks in Australia with a Kelowna, B.C.-based animal rescue team pitching in with wildlife rescue efforts in the wake of the devastating fires.

“It was a wild experience,” Bechtold said.

Along with rescuing animals hurt and displaced by the wildfires, the team set up food and water stations to provide sustenance to animals in areas where their habitat was decimated.

“It’s about helping the animals after the fires,” Bechtold said. “You have animals coming back and waiting for your food.”

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Truthout: Faced With Climate Disaster, Australian Prime Minister Plans to Open Coal Mine

Op-Ed: Thomas Klikauer, Truthout Published January 31, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tours a property hit by bushfires on January 3, 2020, in Sarsfield, Victoria, Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tours a property hit by bushfires on January 3, 2020, in Sarsfield, Victoria, Australia. James Ross-Pool / Getty Images

Born around the same time as the French student and workers’ uprising in May 1968, there is nothing revolutionary about the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, also known as “Scotty from Marketing.” An Australian satirical website penned the nickname (which the prime minister rejects) because Morrison had two jobs in marketing from which he was fired.

As a young boy, he attended the prestigious Sydney Boys High School and later studied economics at a local university. With his beloved conservatives in power under former Prime Minister John Howard, Morrison was appointed director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport from 1998 to 2000, and managing director of Tourism Australia from 2004 to 2006.

With his marketing skills and the powerful assistance of Australia’s Rupert Murdoch-owned press, Morrison got himself elected prime minister of Australia in 2018. Like most of Australia’s arch-conservatives, he relies rather heavily on Murdoch’s propaganda machine. As journalist George Monbiot notes, “On the day the nation’s lethal heat wave struck, Murdoch’s newspaper The Australian filled its front page with a report celebrating new coal exports and a smear story about the chiefs of the state fire services, who were demanding an immediate end to the burning of fossil fuels.”

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CTVNews: Map- How big are the Australia wildfires and where are they burning?

Jesse Tahirali Digital Content Editor Published Tuesday, January 7, 2020 11:00AM EST

TORONTO — The wildfires raging in Australia have so far scorched an area larger than the province of Nova Scotia, and the continent’s wildfire season–which normally lasts through March–is nowhere near its end.

While rain and cooler temperatures are bringing some relief to communities, there are still more than 135 fires burning across the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales and higher temperatures are in the weather forecast for later in the week. Seventy of those fires are not contained.

As officials warn conditions may only worsen, puts into context the wildfires’ devastating toll to humans and wildlife, and how the size of the blaze compares to other recent major fires around the world.

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Guardian: The Australian fires are a harbinger of things to come. Don’t ignore their warning

Fires are more frequent, more damaging, and more terrifying – a symptom of the new age that I call the Pyrocene

Steve Pyne is an emeritus professor at Arizona State University, and the author of Burning Bush: A Fire History of Australia and most recently the second edition of Fire: A Brief History

‘Yes, Australia and bushfire are old acquaintances. But the past 20 years feel different. The bad fires are more frequent, more eruptive, and more damaging.’
‘Yes, Australia and bushfire are old acquaintances. But the past 20 years feel different. The bad fires are more frequent, more eruptive, and more damaging.’ Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

Australia is a fire continent. Imagine California on the scale of the 48 contiguous states, but drier, more routinely kindled and with winds that can transform large swathes of land into a veritable fire flume. From time to time, its simmering flames boil over into seeming tsunamis of fire.

And Australia has a culture to match. It has institutions to study, fight and light fire. It has a literature of fire, a folklore of fire and a fire art that is continuous from Indigenous bark paintings to modernist musings. It has special bushfire collections at its museums. It has a fire politics: on three occasions conflagrations have sparked royal commissions, and from 2009 to 2017, 51 official inquiries.

The worst fires have acquired names and become historical milestones, such as Red Tuesday (1898), Ash Wednesday (1983), Black Christmas (2001), Black Saturday (2009).

Now they are joined by the as-yet unnamed megafires of 2019-20. Call them the Forever fires, for they seem inextinguishable, burning with implacable insistence and smoke palls that extend their reach far beyond the flames’ grasp.

Yes, Australia and bushfire are old acquaintances. But the past 20 years feel different. The bad fires are more frequent, more eruptive and more damaging. The Black Saturday fires, which killed 173 people, struck with the cultural force of a terrorist attack, and seemed to call into question the very premises of a “first world” society on a land capable of such fury. The Forever bushfires deepen that query.

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IE: On Saturday, Canberra Had the World’s Worst Air Quality

Australia continues to be devastated by bushfires.

January 05, 2020 By Loukia Papadopoulos

Things are looking worse and worse with each passing day for Australia. On Wednesday, air quality index readings at one Canberra monitoring site peaked at 1 am at an extremely alarming 7,700. On Saturday, it was revealed that the country’s capital has the world’s worst air quality.

No fire without smoke

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise with all those raging fires causing unimaginable damage all over Australia. And even though the fires have not reached Canberra yet, the effects can still be felt.


Health authorities have issued warnings telling residents to stay indoors with all windows and doors shut. “We also strongly advise people who are sensitive to smoke, especially those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions, to take extra care during these conditions,” said the advice.

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Truthout: Groundbreaking Study Links Human-Caused Climate Change to Global Daily Weather

Winona LaDuke, Sally Field, Jane Fonda and Baltimore Teachers Union president Diamonté Brown demonstrate on Capitol Hill during “Fire Drill Friday” climate change protest on December 13, 2019, in Washington, D.C. John Lamparski / Getty Images

Scientists can now detect the “fingerprint” of human-caused climate change in global daily weather patterns, according to a groundbreaking analysis published Thursday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The study, Climate Change Now Detectable From Any Single Day of Weather at Global Scale, complicates the well-established narrative about the difference between weather and climate. Generally, the former refers to the conditions of the atmosphere in terms of factors like cloudiness, moisture, pressure, temperature, and wind over a short period of time while the latter is average weather in a region over longer periods.

“For generations, climate scientists have educated the public that ‘weather is not climate,’ and climate change has been framed as the change in the distribution of weather that slowly emerges from large variability over decades,” the study says. “However, weather when considered globally is now in uncharted territory.”

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Guardian: Australia’s pathetic PM reveals much about the right’s effort to deny reality

From Scott Morrison to Brexiters, there is a wilful reluctance to address the truth

Nick Cohen is an Observer columnist

‘I don’t really want to’: Scott Morrison’s attempts to shake hands in Cobargo rejected – video (see link below)

There are worse leaders than Scott Morrison. The “international community” includes torturers, mass murderers, ethnic cleansers and kleptomaniacs beside whom he seems almost benign. But no leader in the world is more abject than the prime minister of Australia.Ben GuerinThere are worse leaders than Scott Morrison. The “international community” includes torturers, mass murderers, ethnic cleansers and kleptomaniacs beside whom he seems almost benign. But no leader in the world is more abject than the prime minister of Australia.

He cuts a pathetic figure. A leader must speak honestly to his people in a crisis. The sly tactics of climate change denial, the false consoling words that it’s a scare and we can carry on as before, have left Morrison’s words as meaningless as a hum in the background. Nothing he says is worth hearing.

Australian English is rich in its descriptions of worthless men: as useful as tits on a bull, a dry thunderstorm, a third armpit, a glass door on a dunny, a pocket on a singlet, an ashtray on a motorbike, a submarine with screen doors, a roo-bar on a skateboard. Morrison is all of the above, but a British saying sums him up: “too clever by half”. Morrison won last year’s Australian general election, although his conservative Liberal party was expected to lose, by slyly mobilising opinion against tax rises in general and environmental taxes in particular.

The climate change denialism he espoused is a moving target. In the 1990s, lobbyists funded by the oil industry acted as if the overwhelming majority of scientists who understood the subject were in a conspiracy against the public. They accused the authors of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports of being guilty of a “major deception” when they discussed the human influence on climate. Many still hold to the original sin of this denialism.

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CBC: ‘Connecting with people’: The quest for common ground on climate change

CBC Radio · Posted: Jan 04, 2020 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: January 4

How do we talk about climate change with people who think we’re wrong? Atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe suggests a focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. (Ashley Rodgers/Texas Tech University)

It’s the question that’s been hanging over the climate change debate since the beginning: how do you talk about the problem with people who think you’re wrong?

Start by focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us, said atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

“That is a lot easier said than done, because it seems like our entire public discourse these days is built on what divides us, on the tiny fraction of what we disagree on,” Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, told The House in an interview recorded in mid-December.

“Whereas most of us, if we actually sat down and had a genuine conversation, we would agree that we want to help other people, we want to do what’s right. We’re just disagreeing over how to get that done.

“Connecting with people on what we share — whether it is our faith, the sense of the place where we live, the things that we value, the activities that we participate in — is key to having positive conversations that are constructive, that actually end up in a place where we can agree on solutions, rather than ending up with both of our heads exploding.”

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‘Not safe to move’: Wildfire threats intensify in Australia Social Sharing

PM predicts ‘extremely difficult next 24 hours’ as death toll rises to 23

Thomson Reuters · Posted: Jan 04, 2020 12:24 PM ET | Last Updated: January 4

Residents look on as wildfires burn in Lake Tabourie, Australia, on Saturday. (Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

A father and son who were battling flames for two days on Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia, are the latest victims of the worst wildfire season in Australian history, and the path of destruction widened in at least three states Saturday due to strong winds and high temperatures.

The death toll in the wildfire crisis is now up to 23 people, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after calling up about 3,000 reservists to battle the escalating fires, which are expected to be particularly fierce throughout the weekend.

“We are facing another extremely difficult next 24 hours,” Morrison said at a televised news conference. “In recent times, particularly over the course of the balance of this week, we have seen this disaster escalate to an entirely new level.”

Dick Lang, a 78-year-old outback safari operator, and his 43-year-old son, Clayton, were identified by Australian authorities after their bodies were found Saturday on a highway on Kangaroo Island. Their family said their losses left them “heartbroken and reeling from this double tragedy.”

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