The horrific wildfires in Australia have highlighted the way climate change can affect our daily lives. As the impact of a rising thermometer becomes more and more obvious the need for workable solutions takes center stage. High tech and new ideas are often seen as the best answer.
But it might also be worth looking back. Low-tech approaches that have been practiced for thousands of years may point the way forward.
Historically, Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal community has practiced cultural burning on native land to control weeds and increase biodiversity. In indigenous communities, this ritual (also known as fire-stick farming) has long been known to be a preventative measure against massive wildfires like Australia’s current one. But because it’s a form of traditional ecological knowledge and not taught in institutions or practiced by Australia’s government, cultural burning as a land management strategy has been ignored for centuries.
“We need to think about different [futures] . . . we need to surrender to the idea that we know our cities are going to be filled with water and figure out how to work with that,” Watson says. “How do we not just fall back to using high-tech solutions and use nature technology instead? It can be a hybridized high-tech/low-tech solution . . . we’re not thinking about this technology as potentially a starting point for new technologies, we’re trying to solve problems with the same tool kit that created the problem in the first place.”