This is an interesting and ambiguous cartoon by Ron Tanberg, published on the gardening page of yesterday’s The Age newspaper and discussed by Denise Gadd.
To Denise the cartoon means that “gardeners are a selfish lot who, while towns burn, continue watering their gardens.” But she goes on to argue that we are saving the environment from becoming a dust bowl, and should not be criticized for using water. Gadd believes that other interests, such as preparations for an upcoming motor racing event, use much more water, and this cannot be justified.
To me, however, the cartoon does not implicitly say this. It juxtaposes two realities: the tragic bushfires on the one hand, and the attempt to maintain a small private garden on the other. The difference in the scale and importance of these two scenarios is so great that it makes me feel uncomfortable and defensive to identify with the second picture.
But these scenes do coexist. Both represent the current struggle to live with nature - not to control it because that is impossible, but also not to be overwhelmed by its destructive force.