The President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, recently released a statement at the adacemy's website regarding the recent massive bushfires in Australia. You can read it here.
I decided to write to Prof Shine in response to the statement. Here's what I wrote.
I saw your recent press release at the Australian Academy of Science website about the recent bushfires in Australia.
When I read it, all I saw were carefully considered words from a pure academician who clearly has no idea or plan for how to mitigate such gigantic bushfire events. You didn't have a plan before the fires happened and you don't have a plan now. How do you manage forests so vast that they're unmanageable? How do you manage them when they burn unmanageably? What qualifies a medical researcher to speak on such matters, other than a fancy title from an academy that appears to contribute very little to society?
Even Captain Cook wrote of massive fires as he sailed up the East Coast of Australia. The plants of Australia have evolved and adapted to cope with fire, it's been going on for millions of years. Yet people are so surprised when they build their homes near the forest, and then once in their short lifetime it all burns down. Meanwhile, academics who are convinced of their expertise in land management are now sending their favorite superhero to the rescue: Captain Hindsight. The Aborigines would never have allowed this to happen.
As for mitigating the effects of global warming, while you perhaps plan to instate a carbon tax or turn off some light bulbs to save the planet, meanwhile in the massively over-populated industrial regions where the western world exported its industries decades ago, such as China, Southeast Asia, India, Mexico, Eastern Europe, and parts of Africa.....
Well, at least your press release might get some funding from the government so that some bumbling boffins can study the problem, model it, and publish papers about it in obscure journals that hardly anyone reads. When Australia burns again in another massive inferno 20 years from now, there will no doubt be another President of the Academy making a public statement about how scientists are making a difference in the world, and they will be creating a plan to mitigate the problem.
Dave, who has a very important PhD from a very important university that makes the world go around (I actually left Australia many years ago, so I could avoid a life of underemployment as a scientist and enter the burgeoning electronics R&D industry of California, where they have real research with real results, not just talk).