Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You open a road and now only hoons use it

Pairs of bright multi coloured corellas and spectacular views make a trip down Wild Dog road a truly  memorable one . The road was closed for several years after a major landslide moved across it. While we fixed the immediate problem, there is still  a huge area ( see bare area on photo)  of loose hillside ready to come sliding down across it as some future time. In reality,  the best we can ever do is work with nature, but work with it we must . There is little point in avoiding the challenge its very power creates .
When you are actually on this scary road,  its easier to ignore the real dangers ,  and as Tony Jones ( ABCTV ) would say -" keep moving ". We may have bitten off more than we can chew,  but lets not talk about it  right now. This is of course,  is the problem of the participant( as we call them ); the problem of denial." I am not going to fall . Its not going to fall"
There are some other sorts of human problems with threats  . The desire we have to dominate them , or the opposite - the feeling that we must give in to what ever is natural.  Unfortunately for scientists,  the latter is a popular fad at the moment;  a fad that often bears no resemblance to real fears that should concern us . If we wanna keep driving we have to keep our heads .  Without going too far into this here , let me say that the media and others already do enough worrying.; The former "can do "attitude  hardly ever gets a decent go - except when engineers are in charge . Domination is of course the wrong word . The old word is dominion, at that's  fine . Dominion is respecting the territorial imperative of nature - humans as well as another plant and other animals  --As long as we don't think we can outsmart or out compete with the most efficient things on earth - we will keep our heads. Point is , unlike our dreams, the earth has limits and we must understand and respect them if we are not to be crushed by them .

The bare area above the road shows the area that is still moving  
Having observers ( cf participants mentioned above) when there is high risk isn't the complete answer  either,  We need local observers who know the local situation,  not remote observers who can read GIS machines and maps . We need people who don't generate general panic, but address specific need. Enormous waste now in the West goes in chasing broad fears and ignoring present danger.Yes, you can safely drive down this road today.  If real risk worries you,  stay indoors, stay at home
Real people in danger don't need the media ,the map , the Department or the politicians - they need a person nearby to look out for their interest . There are no persons nearby in some areas any more and its your job (as the reader ) to insist that  institution's and the expert outside consultants do less and more people on the ground are trained to do more .
If you don't believe the problem is a serious one, let me tell you something that's born of 3 decades of experience on the ground . In 30 years of advising on risks I notice most private consultants will not touch the big jobs,  but will choose the small ones. Disasters come with cocontenation so individualization is dangerous . Its far more rewarding for all parties then ( public and private ) if a prevention and design focus is a partnership thing:  Cars , people and bikes need to go down the road now with the fast moving fixers in buses to make sure every small thing is seen that needs to be seen  .  I will tell the story of fixing the road in another place, at another time.

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