The 2019-20 Australian forest fire crisis: a climate security dilemma

This month I published a column in New Matilda arguing that the vast scale, intensity and destructiveness of the 2019-2020 fires represent a major national security crisis for Australia.  I argued that our failure to prepare for the crisis was systemic: a threefold function of the narrow and militarist way we understand national security, our anthropocentric failure to valuable our wildlife and ecosystems, and the hollowing out of government by neoliberalism. I suggest that we need a new policy approach that includes a massive increase in fire service capabilities and resources, a large standing aerial firefighting fleet, and a strategy that can protect our wildlife and natural heritage rather than merely people and property. This is, I think, in accord with recent calls for an ecological security model of linking climate and security.

The piece also cites a range of other contributions to this debate and this insightful article on Australia’s reluctance to build a coherent climate security policy was published on the Australian Strategic Policy Institute blog just a couple of days before.

Of course, its also possible for security talk in this space to go haywire and this piece by writer Jeff Sparrow (somewhat reminiscent of Mark Neocleous’ view of security) offers a worthwhile note of caution.

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