Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Little Depression a Disaster Does Not Make

A little bit of parochial news. We are in the middle of an atmospheric low. Nope, we’re not depressed in the psychological sense but we have had a couple of low level cyclonic weather events over the past month - something different to el Ninio, al Ninia or the Indian Ocean Anomaly apparently - and so far, June is the wettest June since 1950. Welcome as the rain is for this parched land, it’s not really hitting the drought affected areas but a little is falling into the catchments. We are still on level 4 water restrictions because ironically, there is no way of capturing this coastal downpour and putting it to good use. I'll talk another time about water policy.

For the rest of this tiny antipodean population nestled close to the east coast, it’s bloody awful. Temperatures have plummetted, we’ve had 95km winds, driving rain, snow and ice in the Blue Mountains, trees falling and even a thumping great ship grounded at one of our northern beaches. Sydney thankfully is cold, windy and wet but no flooding. Different story an hour up the coast where the picture of the farmhouse above was taken. So yes, over the past week some people have had it tough and are cleaning up wet carpets and sadly a small, very small number have lost their lives.

Not to be outdone by it's more regional neighbours, Sydney media has been keen to establish the modern coastal city as a possible target for devastation. Last night the news warned of catastrophic weather, 8 metre waves and the likely impact of a cyclone which was about to hit the east coast with 100km winds at exactly 2.00am. We were warned to stay away from windows and to stay off the roads so we waited.

Well yes it rained a lot, and I guess there was a little bit of wind which is unusual at night but it was hardly the ballistic forcast we were expecting. The media had done it again, gone into an absolute frenzy of pre-emptive hysteria.

Mummies kept their kiddies close, pets were brought inside, cars were locked up in garages, hatches battoned and all the necessary precautions taken . . .I even took my wind chimes down in case they flew off.

This morning, clearly, every radio and TV station had scheduled reports on the anticipated destruction that was supposed to take place overnight - it was a non event. Very embarrassing for them really. Fairly dry reporters with their umbrellas duly intact stood in front of jettys an wharfs waxing lyrical about the big waves as they gently sploshed behind them. Not quite the inside out brolly weather and 8metre seas they were expecting. Only the first two Manly Ferries were cancelled, more due to lack of light than the swell.

Not content with making up the devastating cyclone that never was, the big story of the morning (OK I do have Sunrise on while I’m getting dressed) shifted focus to the Pasha Bulka, a 225 metre coal hulk which grounded earlier this month was apparently about to break up and cause an environmental disaster. Besides the fact that the ship is empty – it was here to pick up coal, not deliver it. It is also so full of watery ballast and so stable that we can’t get the bugger off the sandbank. Claims that it was 'bobbing up and down like a rubber duck" were absolutely ridiculous. The things been sitting there for almost a month - even the salvagers are still arguing about how to move the bugger. This ended up being a totally fabricated story with the Ports Authority making the now 'redundant' reporter look like a right pigs ear! Everything is under control, the only issue, how to free the stricken ship once the rain stops (although why that makes a difference I don’t know, it’s in the sea – aint the see wet? It’s like telling a child it can’t go swimming because it’s raining . . .

Our media is just crying out for a disaster. It’s been years since the Bali Bombing. Not since Cyclone Larry destroyed a tiny bit of the north Queensland banana crop 18 months ago have we had a tale to tell. Nobody’s bombed our underground or hijacked our planes. Only 2 people died in the summer bushfires and despite our ass-licking of George Bush, neither the the Iraqis or the yanks know where we are. A recent poll of US citizens showed that we're wedged somewhere near Pakistan and the skiing's great. It’s been over 5 years since we’ve had any decent backpacker murders. What the hell’s going on? Why the media are so quick to put our nice little backwater into the limelight, I'll never know. Good news doesn't sell apparently.

So, disaster predicted, overplayed, falsley reported and finally averted, the media is now depressed, more so than that small cyclonic depression now making it’s way towards New Zealand. Look out Dodge, you could be in for a sunami.


kahlerisms said...

Does the shooting in Melbourne this week count?

Baino said...

Nah, only 1 dead and he was killed by a Hells Angel, that goes on all the time down there doesn't it?

kahlerisms said...

Hardly! Front page of everything for like four days in row this week!

Baino said...

Heh . . that's cos they've cracked down on the Mafia . . .everyone else has gone underground so there's nothing else to report. How's tricks in little Sicely?