Alex Tighe is a journalist and audio producer at the ABC, and was the inaugural recipient of the Mark Colvin Scholarship.
How should we make sense of the Black Summer bushfires? What lessons can we find amid the destruction?
These were the questions that drew people – a lot of people – to the Muniment Room at the University of Sydney one recent afternoon. So many people that other questions soon arose, like how to fit 80 into a room made for half that number. “Is this structurally sound?” one student asked, pointing to a wide windowsill. Soon a dozen were seated on it. The event had been organised by the philosophy department in response to “the devastating events of this summer”, and the crowd was gathered to see what guidance, if any, philosophers could give.
Associate Professor Kristie Miller, a metaphysics expert, spoke first. Her dog, Freddie, was by her side throughout the presentation – he had a scar on his belly from where he’d been gored by a panicked kangaroo escaping the...