A lot of academic papers I read about climate change adaptation for urban areas favour willy nilly increased residential density.
The authors seem unaware property developers will simply exploit that with insanely crowded new estates consisting of baking, excessive infrastructure, tiny blocks with virtually no backyards, cramped high rise flats beetling over busy major through roads, and perfunctory dangerous "linear" parks (usually the median strips of dual carriageways).
Larger parks are often on "SLOAP" (space left over after planning). Urban sprawl is invoked, when little or no attempt is made to encourage and install workplaces, shops, schools etc in the new hotbox suburbs.
Planners must get tough on those carpetbaggers and insist on cooler, more liveable new suburbs, in the interests of public health and the environment.
As well, existing suburbs are being wrecked in the name of climate change, with government-promoted, dumb, "house in the backyard" dual occupancies, when it is that green swathe of conjoined backyards that helps temper and cool the local environment.
Increased density can be achieved in existing suburbs with sensible "side-by-side", smaller-footprint (two-storeyed as appropriate), dual occupancies, offering better privacy, solar access, and amenity, while preserving back yards.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
The risk increases
All the news about bushfires and advice on being bushfire-prepared makes one wonder why the ACT government is intent on pushing Canberra suburbs directly into the bushfire path.
The current focus is along the Lower Molonglo and the extension of Belconnen to the northwest. These areas are exposed to the north-westerly prevailing winds that blow from the Brindabella Range where lightning strikes frequently start bushfires.
Such fires then pass across the Murrumbidgee River where steep slopes create tornado-like wind effects, driving embers long distances.
Improving building standards will only increase the chance of residents being able to evacuate safely; they will not ensure survival of the house. Insurance companies might be unwilling to provide bushfire cover for such vulnerable houses in the future.Robyn Coghlan, president Ginninderra Falls Association
Expert research following the 2003 fires has shown that slopes over 24 degrees, as found along the local gorges, behave quite differently from ordinary grass fires and are much more dangerous.
Control burns in the Brindabellas have limited effect and will become increasingly difficult to perform, given the shortening period when it is safe to do so each year.
Improving building standards will only increase the chance of residents being able to evacuate safely; they will not ensure survival of the house. Insurance companies might be unwilling to provide bushfire cover for such vulnerable houses in the future.
Does excessive population growth really necessitate such dangerous developments?
Robyn Coghlan, president Ginninderra Falls Association
Can Alastair Bridges point to where we were told "we would never face water restrictions again" (Letters, November 19)? I only recall us being left on permanent low level restrictions.
As to his question "what value was there in the drought-proofing?", he answers that himself by pointing out that we haven't been put on genuine restrictions yet.
This is despite calls from the hair shirt brigade, for whom the massive expansion in storage capacity from the new Cotter Dam is just a larger denominator for spurious percentage comparisons with past dam levels.
Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Re Ebony Bennett's article "Let's never let this happen again" (November 18, p14).
Canberra (Weston Creek), experienced a fire in 1965 with very similar trajectory to the great fire of 2003.
The difference was that back in 1965, the suburbs of Weston Creek including Chapman, Duffy, Rivett and others hadn't been built. Molonglo, now a rapidly developing area, wasn't even being planned.
The real question is why did the ACT government develop housing in a known fire corridor? And why does it still do this? It's all a bit like the Queensland government allowing houses to be built on a known flood plain in Brisbane.
The big fires follow the same path every 50 years or so, gathering in Wee Jasper/ Yass then travelling south-west along the Murrumbidgee river corridor to Kambah and beyond.
Will it happen again? Yes. Do I think the ACT government is ready? No.
Jane Hyden, Chapman
Bust the law breakers
On Monday, for the second time in a few months, I was confronted with a dirt biker racing through Fadden Pines.
It is a designated off-lead area and, yet again, my dog fled in terror to be recovered somewhere in Gowrie.
No less disturbing was the lack of interest by the Tuggeranong police in even recording the incident. How long does it take for ACT policing to up their procedures following the new animal cruelty act?
Chris Klootwijk, Macarthur
I'd like to thank Alan Jones and the Australian Christian Lobby's CEO, Martyn Iles, for encouraging Israel Folau to continue preaching about God's "love".
According to Folau, Australia's prolonged drought and devastating bushfires are just a little taste from God to show how God feels, not about the way in which humanity is trashing the planet, but about Australia's legalisation of same-sex marriage and abortion.
I wonder whether Jones and Iles realised Folau's God is the horrible God that Christopher Hitchens railed against. The same god who, according to the Bible, firstly conjured up a world-wide flood to drown every living creature except for Noah, his family and the creatures they were able to cram aboard the ark and, secondly, killed every Egyptian first born child in reprisal for the cruelty that the Pharaoh and his regime had inflicted upon the Israelites.
As a secularist, I can only hope that Folau never stops preaching about his horrible God's "love".
Bruce Taggart, Aranda
Carol Anne Goodwin Jones's article on police violence in Hong Kong ("Police legitimacy is draining away", November 19, p16) is a useful exposition of where responsibility lies in the escalation of violence in Hong Kong. But it obscures the main point: the students lost the plot as soon as the protest turned violent.
What might have they done then? They might have called the protest off while they rethought strategy.
Was the goal of the protest just to prevent Hong Kongers from being sent to Beijing for trial?
The authorities seem to have conceded that. The goal seems to have widened: Hong Kong can become the rudder that steers China?
That is certainly thinking big.
Too big? Maybe; but too good to miss.
Will China become a servile, surveillance state, like the dreary, shabby Soviet Union, or will it become a vibrant, open society?
Freedom unlocks human potential, surveillance closes it up.
The opportunities open to China are breathtaking.
For example, in the north, a trade deal has been struck between China, Russia and Japan, and there are vast resources in Siberia and Alaska.
In the south, the opportunities are different, but just as good.
Will the leadership have the imagination and the resolution? Why not?
Reg Naulty, Hawker
Well done Minister
I commend Foreign Minister Marise Payne for her recent statement on reports on Xinjiang.
Her principled stance on this matter is in line with the values espoused by this nation, which include respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual and freedom of religion.
Persecution of religious or ethnic minorities must never be tolerated and the international community should unite to give a voice to the weak and oppressed in all parts of the world.
Danish Khan, South
Once more, with feeling
I was disappointed to read Senator Cory Bernardi said his reason for deciding to leave politics was the realisation his "enthusiasm to return to parliament in the new year had gone and it was time to move on with other interests".
I am naive enough to believe people who seek to be elected want to work for the benefit of the community, not just themselves. Oh, hang on a minute. I used to believe that but, in retrospect, there is much evidence from the last five years, to demonstrate there are many members of the Federal Government, who subscribe to Bernardi's philosophy. They should follow his example.
Elizabeth Blackmore, Holt
TO THE POINT
IT'S A TRADE-OFF
If only we did have a new grassland ("New grassland to protect native species", November 20, p4) we might be able to expand this threatened ecosystem. While the new grassland reserve is welcome, its declaration means yet more native grassland has been lost to development. The ACT's total area of native grassland is shrinking. Offset Is another term for loss of ecosystems. It is time to protect all of the ACT's remaining native grasslands.
R Griffiths, environment sub-committee ACT National Parks Association
It sounds like Turnbull has grown an appetite to come back to politics.
Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt
THE BURNING ISSUE
The fires aren't God's revenge for marriage equality. They are nature's revenge for overloading her with carbon.
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
WESTPAC A WORRY
To make a mistake is human, to do it a second time is stupid. What does this mean for Westpac which has made 23 million mistakes?
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
MAKE HASTE SLOWLY
The Prime Minister wants faster environmental approvals. That is fine in principle, but his starting point is assessment is a box-ticking process and approval is inevitable. We live in a time of unprecedented environmental decline. The government should give priority to conserving our environment.
Jonathan Miller, Curtin
BAN COTTON CROPS
Because of the drought it will apparently not be possible to plant a summer crop of cotton in the Moree region. What an opportunity to declare a moratorium on cotton planting in arid regions of Australia. The same could be done for rice growing in irrigation areas. These two crops are totally unsuited to our environment. Return the water they extract to the river system.
Brian Bell, Isabella Plains
1851 THE WORST
The 1939 bushfire was not our worst George Beaton (letters, November 18).That record is held by the 1851 fires which burnt five million hectares, or one quarter of Victoria, on a 47 degree day.
Christopher Smith, Braddon
WHAT NEXT GRETA?
The world is waiting breathlessly for yet another stunt by dear little Greta. A trip to the moon perhaps by solar spacecraft, courtesy of Sir Richard Branson, another well-heeled climate enthusiast?
P Wilson, Miami, Queensland
Linus Cole (Letters, November 19) should understand it is not Green MPs who manage national parks and bushland. It is their green disciples who infest the bureaucracy running our national parks who are the problem.
Mark Sproat, Lyons
POT MEET KETTLE
A man whose name it's a crime to know has been jailed for a crime whose nature it's a crime to know, apparently without a trial, apparently not by a court, but by the government. And that government criticises China for its human rights record. Pot, meet kettle.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen
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