A link between bushfires and climate change?

CM, like everyone else, hopes the loss of life and damage is kept to a minimum by these bushfires. Sad that politicians leverage tragedy to push narratives that aren’t remotely close to the truth.

It doesn’t take too much time or effort to work out what causes fires. Greens Senator DiNatale only needed to refer to the Australian Institute for Criminology (AIC) which noted over a 5 year study period that half of all bushfires were deemed suspicious or deliberately lit. Another 35% were accidentally lit. So 85% were down to human factors, not climate. The statistics were based on data comprising on average 54,000 bush fires per annum.

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) noted that 90% of wildland fires are caused by humans, 49% of that being deliberate.  So there is consistency in bushfire data across nations.

The Rural Fire Service publishes its data on burn-offs. This is a fundamental part of containment. They update the status of bushfires here.

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Unfortunately to The Greens, everything is linked to a climate emergency.

If DiNatale was truly compassionate about those suffering losses from these fires, perhaps he might just stick to reality and spend 10 minutes surfing the WA Government’s Bushfire Front (BFF) site which clearly states,

“Large wildfires are inevitable”

This statement is, to put it politely, bosh. Large wildfires can only occur when there is a combination, at the same time, of three things:

  1. an ignition source,

  2. severe fire weather and,

  3. a large contiguous accumulation of fuel. Remove any of these three and you cannot have a large wildfire (= megafire).

We obviously can’t control the weather, nor can we hope to eliminate all possible avenues of ignition. The only factor we can control is the large contiguous accumulations of fuel. Therefore, broadscale fuel reduction burning is the only defence we have against large wildfires. This will not prevent fires occurring, but it will ensure fires are less intense, are easier and safer to control and will do less damage.

Does it work? Yes it does, as has been shown many times, over many years, by the experience of Western Australian forest managers. The “proof of the pudding” is the incidence of large wildfires in Western Australian forests over the last 50 years. There were a number of very large fires in Western Australian forests from 1900 to 1960, but after the 1961 Dwellingup fire disaster, the wide-scale fuel reduction program carried out by the then Forests Department, ensured that the fuel accumulation was well controlled. The graph below demonstrates this very clearly. It was only after the burning program gradually fell away following a diversion of resources away from forest areas, that the area of wildfires began to climb again after about 1990.

As we know the Greens are not great fans of back burning.

“Prescribed burning causes untold ecological damage”

This is a common argument among academics and green activists, but in fact is just a speculation that fits their ideological stance. It is futile to call, as they do, for complete knowledge of every little impact of fire on every component of the biota.

There is also a section on how the aborigines managed fires. Presumably, skills learnt before settlers came…

Across the whole of Australia, the early settlers and explorers commented in letters and reports that the land looked like a park, with extensive open forests and woodlands, with grassy patches often seemingly arranged in a planned fashion. They also described how they observed aborigines frequently burning patches of bush and were impressed by their skill in handling fire to confine a burn to a set area.

Plenty of video evidence for DiNatale to access here.

Or there is a section written just for him on bushfires and climate change. Some pull quotes,

“Compared to slope, wind strength, fuel quantity and dryness, temperature is an insignificant driver of fire behaviour. Experienced firefighters do not fear a 40-degree day per se. This is because even on a hot day, a fire in one or two-year old fuel can be controlled; on the same day a fire in 20-year old fuels with high winds would usually be unstoppable.

“Carbon dioxide emitted in smoke from a mild-intensity burn is rapidly recaptured through photosynthesis by regenerating understorey plants and by increased tree growth so that the situation is carbon-neutral within 2-4 years of a burn. After this there is positive accumulation of CO2 in plants.”

The BFF supports a fire management system built upon mitigation and resilience. Relying on increased suppression forces and technology is not the answer. Fires in heavy, dry fuels in eucalypt forest on a windy day cannot be controlled, regardless of the fire-fighting resources and technology available.”

With respect to ignition sources, the AIC notes, “most arsonists are white male, mid-20s, patchy employment record, often above average intelligence, but poor academic achievement and poor social development skills…56% of convicted structural arsonists and 37% of bushfire arsonists in NSW had a prior conviction for a previous offence.

Perhaps we should look to the real causes instead of making assumptions based on narratives rather than facts.

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