OPINION | Where there's smoke...

Photo: Kelly-ann Oosterbeek
Photo: Kelly-ann Oosterbeek

Who could have imagined a time when, before setting off on a journey, we all check our bushfire apps to make sure we won't be driving into danger?

Or a world where rainforests are parched enough to burn at the same intensity as a dry sclerophyll forest.

Where hazard reduction, supposedly prevented by the "greenies", is often not possible because the weather in winter is too dry, warm or windy.

Where the landscapes of our childhood holidays or family farms are irreversibly altered by severe and far-reaching fires. Where even the streets of our towns and villages, let alone the wilderness places, are left looking like war zones.

As I write this I can barely make out the next ridge, so dense is the smoke and dust whipped up by these insane westerly winds.

And I'm not even near any fires. I can only barely imagine what it's like in the areas affected.

There's been a lot of talk this week about how "now isn't the time" to sit back and ponder the causes. Now, apparently, is the time for just getting through it in one piece and offering help for those in need.

Well, nothing is actually burning near me. I can donate money but I can't make sandwiches for the firies or deliver bedding for evacuees.

So instead, I'd like to turn my mind to understanding what is happening and why, and I'm glad there are experts able and willing to poke up above the parapet and speak out (even if the pollies will try to take their heads off for it).

The fact that some people don't want to talk about causes right now makes me think they're worried we'll see through the smoke haze to the flaming truth, and want to do something about it.

Far from inner-city "lunatics", it's country people who are desperately worried and dealing with climate change effects right now, close up.

We shouldn't sit politely waiting for the smoke to clear, mainly because I suspect it's just not going to. This may be the new normal, and we'd better get our heads around it.