The temperature reached 118°F in parts of Victoria yesterday, with Melbourne reaching 115.5° F (46.4°C, the highest temperature ever recorded), and the whole state went up in flames. It's hard to imagine in the twenty-first century, but humankind was helpless in the face of nature.
If human activity has changed the climate of our planet, it looks like Victoria is going to be one of the worst-affected places on earth, unfortunately.
Scores of people died in their homes and their cars. The official death toll keeps rising, as the emergency services get access to the areas that have been burnt out. Terrible scenes of destruction and devastation play out hour after hour on our television and the radio is one continuous stream of warnings and reports. I think the most appalling thing I heard today was the instruction to people in one town not to leave, because it was too late.
Stay in your home, the announcer ordered. And I thought, what if the inhabitants knew their house could not weather the fire storm? Then the man on the radio said to move quickly to a well-prepared neighbor's house, if you thought your own home would burn. Even sitting in my air-conditioned car in the middle of Melbourne, I felt terrified.
And the pets... I looked at Penny, lying on the seat beside me and shuddered for those who could not get back to their homes and knew their beloved pets were locked in the house. In some cases emergency shelters will not take pets. I don't know why - perhaps space is at a premium.
But how could you leave them behind?
And the stock and the wildlife...
You'd think we'd become used to scenes of weeping farmers shooting cattle lying in agony in a burnt-out paddock. But we don't.
I see flocks of birds sweeping across the sky and I think, at least you can fly. But the koalas can't leave fast enough. Or the kangaroos. Or the wombats. Or the lizards. Or the snakes. Or the butterflies. Or the spiders. Or the ants.