The United States has sent 153 firefighters to battle the horrendous fires in Australia and is sending 3,500 additional troops to the Middle East to join the approximately 70,000 troops already there.
Do you think the firefighters are well received by the Australians? Check out this video.
The fires in Australia seem a little personal, since we just ran the Wine Media Conference there in October. I have vivid memories of driving through smoke to get from Brisbane to our pre-conference excursion in the Granite Belt wine region of Queensland. I can clearly see the stress on the faces of some of the winery owners as we discussed how the three-year drought was affecting and would affect their businesses.
It is a bit amazing that in New South Wales where our conference took place, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service of 70,000 people is an all-volunteer force. These are taxi drivers, school teachers, and even winemakers in normal times now fighting the biggest forest fires (“bush” fires in Australia) of their lives.
The Australian wine authorities point out the country is huge and a relatively small amount of vineyards have actually burned. But the Hunter Valley region is now testing grapes from its 2020 harvest for smoke taint. We know tourism suffers in crises like this. Lives have been lost. People are suffering.
Now, this is a News page about the Wine Media Conference and as much as we would all like to have a bullhorn from time to time to expound on current events, I am not writing to talk about politics, war, or even global climate change. But it would be interesting to see what would happen if we would shift just 1% of our military budget and human resources to humanitarian causes around the world. That would put approximately 21,000 professionals (and 134 aircraft) available to help in Australia.