As it was the effects of global warming that destroyed the homes, it would be quite ludicrous to rebuild them in a way that will continue to make global warming worse.
We have a chance to ensure that the deaths of so many people in the Black Saturday fires were not in vain. We have a chance to completely eliminate environmentally harmful household emissions on a township scale, by building environmentally sustainable houses that will also be far more likely to survive bush fires intact.
So far, as a nation we’ve done absolutely nothing to halt the effects of global warming on a large enough scale to make any difference what so ever, apart from making things worse.
It makes sense that houses destroyed by the effects of global warming should be rebuilt in a way that will not cause more global warming, and it would be irresponsible of every Australian and the Australian Government not to get behind environmentally sustainable rebuilding of all houses destroyed by extreme weather events.
Here is a chance to experiment with environmentally sustainable living on a large enough scale to make a difference and to show the rest of Australia and the world how we all urgently need to be living. And we aren’t talking about ugly, institutionalised, fire-proof bunkers; Rather we must build beautifully designed, comfortable, liveable and personalised homes that are loved by the people who are to live in them.
(Inside an Earthship house...)
The aim is to build a whole town; Environmentally sustainable, off-the-grid, beautifully designed and liveable, which we can showcase to the world.
It will cost Australia some money, but if we can contribute to the problems of the world with $4.4 billion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or mismanage $1.32 billion for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to last just a few years between the end of the F-111s in 2010 and the expected arrival of the F-35s in 2013, then we can certainly find considerably less than that to help save the world.
After the Bushfires How do we Re-build?
Whether or not the new buildings are fireproofed isn’t the only concern in relation to the rebuilding process, it’s only one of the factors involved. The fires that destroyed the towns and houses were caused by an extreme weather event, which was in turn the result of our unsustainable living practices and house & building designs.
Re-building the houses simply to survive future fire is no longer good enough. Right now, out of the ashes of Black Saturday, we have the opportunity to re-build whole towns with self sufficient housing – houses containing their own Thermal/Solar Heating & Cooling, Solar & Wind powered electricity, self-contained Sewage Treatment and with their own Water Harvesting and Food Production facilities.
We need an organised and multi-disciplined environmentally integrated approach for re-building our burnt out towns, and a corresponding spiritual approach to living and life.
We can learn from the many groups of people already forging ahead with sustainable designed and constructed houses and buildings around the world. One such group is Earthship Biotecture (Taos, New Mexico)
Earthship Biotecture is a company that produces environmentally sustainable designed and constructed houses called Earthships.
Earthships vary in design, but all contain sustainable solar/wind power, heating and cooling, and their own water collection/recycling and sewage treatment.
Earthship homes create their own electricity from solar panels and wind; Heat is absorbed into the home through large, correctly orientated double-glazed windows; Earthships maintain comfortable temperatures in any climate through contact with the Earth. The planet Earth is a thermally stabilizing mass that delivers stable temperatures into the home without wires or pipes.
Grey water is treated and recycled on site
Earthship water is collected from the roof and heated by the sun or natural gas. Earthship plumbing systems can be configured so that the "graywater" from sinks and showers is filtered through large indoor or outdoor gardens and used again to flush the toilets. Earthships contain, use and reuse all household sewage in indoor and outdoor treatment cells ultimately contributing to food production and landscaping with no pollution of aquifers.
Making the walls with old tyres packed with earth
The home itself is built largely with recycled materials most of which are easily available and free. Used steel-belted automobile tires, packed solid with earth, become giant 400-pound bricks that create soundproof, fire and earthquake resistant, fortress-like walls. Earthship houses cause no conflict, no stress, no depletion, and no trauma to the planet earth.
We are presently living on this planet as if we are not a part of it. This must change, now!
Earthship Housing & Communities - Rebuilding After the Victorian BushfiresWritten by Earthship Biotecture
Sustainable Re-Building After the Victorian Bush Fires
Over 2,000 houses were destroyed in the recent Victorian bush fires; whole towns were wiped off the map with tragic human cost.
The Black Saturday fires have given us a graphic experience of extreme weather events soon to become more frequent with global warming, but out of that tragedy also comes a once-in-a-lifetime clean-slated opportunity to re-build whole towns in an environmentally sustainable way, and to experiment with new ways of sustainable living on a mainstream township scale.
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