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They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?

The sitation in California is just like the one in Australia

Tim Ingalsbee has been fighting fires or trying to prevent them since 1980. He founded Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology.

They know how to prevent megafires

Elizabeth Weil, ProRepublica

So what’s it like? “It’s just … well … it’s horrible. Horrible to see this happening when the science is so clear and has been clear for years. I suffer from Cassandra syndrome,” Ingalsbee said. “Every year I warn people: Disaster’s coming. We got to change. And no one listens. And then it happens.”

The pattern is a form of insanity: We keep doing overzealous fire suppression across California landscapes where the fire poses little risk to people and structures. As a result, wildland fuels keep building up.

This week we’ve seen both the second- and third-largest fires in California history. “The fire community, the progressives, are almost in a state of panic,” Ingalsbee said. There’s only one solution, the one we know yet still avoid. “We need to get good fire on the ground and whittle down some of that fuel load.”

Modern Californians are burning 0.1% of what indigenous California’s used to do:

Academics believe that between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. Between 1982 and 1998, California’s agency land managers burned, on average, about 30,000 acres a year. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres. The state passed a few new laws in 2018 designed to facilitate more intentional burning. But few are optimistic this, alone, will lead to significant change. We live with a deathly backlog. In February 2020, Nature Sustainability published this terrifying conclusion: California would need to burn 20 million acres — an area about the size of Maine — to restabilize in terms of fire.

..is there is any meaningful scientific dissent about controlled burns? \

“None that I know of.”

The incentives are all wrong. There is a risk in doing cool burns, but no immediate risk in foregoing them. And among other things, fires are big business. Cal Fire may spend $1 billion this year. Full time Firefighters earn  $148,000 a year.

A lot of the money though, goes on late afternoon planes dumping fire retardant to save a few wild trees:

A lot of the “air show,” as he calls it, happens not on small fires in the morning, when retardant drops from planes are most effective, but on large fires in the afternoon. But nevermind. You can now call in a 747 to drop 19,200 gallons of retardant. Or a purpose-designed Lockheed Martin FireHerc, a cousin of the C-130. How cool is that? Still only 30% of retardant is dropped within 2,000 yards of a neighborhood, meaning that it stands little chance of saving a life or home. Instead the airdrop serves, at great expense, to save trees in the wilderness, where burning, not suppression, might well do more good.

So the Firies don’t necessarily want the fires to stop (though they must be pretty tired of them right now). The Greens use the flaming wrecks as advertising for climate change and fundraising for their party or club.

Then there’s the swamp — the cumbersome octopus of bureaucracy often shuts down the few prescribed burns people are ready to do. There’s smoke, PM2.5′s, there’s a risk.

Sounds a lot like Australia.

It’s a well written article (apart from a couple of token “don’t pick on me” handwaves to climate change.

Even progressive journalists are getting the message.

https://www.propublica.org/article/they-know-how-to-prevent-megafires-why-wont-anybody-listen

 

 

 

 

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Rating: 9.5/10 (78 votes cast)
They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?, 9.5 out of 10 based on 78 ratings

86 comments to They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?

  • #
    Jojodogfacedboy

    With the amount of laws in place, you go to jail now if you cut down a tree.
    Who would you get proper approvals and permits to design a proper fire plan?
    We have too many bureaus of politicians that need study after study with no clue who to approve a proper approach.

    300

  • #
    Contemptible Blackguard

    Check out a site called Blancolirio. The guy who has the channel is named Juan Browne living in Northern California. He is a 777 pilot who gives a great running commentary on the fires from the air-tankers (point of view) that dump the retardant. It is super dangerous and they lose pilots all the time – just like we lost those three unfortunate but heroic pilots in the ACT last year.

    90

  • #
    Peter Fitzroy

    Let’s be clear, this is a result of complacency. After all Climate Change is not happening, weather patterns are only temporarily out of whack, we don’t get mega fires every year (all arguments used by commentators on this site) so why bother with elaborate control measures. After all they are only ‘wild’ trees

    Although firefighters are well paid their ranks are supplemented by prisoners earring around 80 cents an hour. In fact, the Biden VP pick is on the record for holding back parole during the fire season to maintain the numbers (you get brownie points if you ‘volunteer’ to fight fires as a prisoner). Of course if we removed all the ‘wild’ trees the problem would go away.

    By the way I visited sequoia national park in early January with my family it is magnificent. But I take your point “it’s just a few wild trees”. Might as well let it burn. Could be a problem for the families who live in the park though (a hold over from the depression when the parks were established, and the workers and their families moved to the park to establish the facilities, roads etc.) Sequoia like the other parks we visited had schools, villages with very good motel style accommodation, and superb camping facilities. Might as well let that burn as well – according to this post, those wild trees have no value after all

    246

    • #
      MrGrimNasty

      For vast tracts of the earth’s surface, the landscape that doesn’t burn through periodically is in an unnatural state of affairs.

      If people want to live in that landscape they have to work to suppress nature, that means controlled burns and fuel load management.

      You are aware Sequoia are dependent on fire to reproduce and are usually largely unscathed by fire, unless some ignorant green savior has allowed the fuel load to accumulate to such an unnatural level that you get total incineration of everything instead of a bit of under-layer clearance?

      380

    • #
      Peter Fitzroy

      Oh, and while we in Sequoia we noticed that the rangers were setting small low intensity fires (around 10 sq/m) using the dead trees and brush, up beings asked they said that this method encouraged regrowth, reduced fuel loads and did not cause pollution problems (and also this was being done in winter, traditionally a low tourist season)

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    • #
      Peter Fitzroy

      [Duplicate]

      14

    • #
      RicDre

      “After all Climate Change is not happening…”

      Climate change has been happening since the earth has had a climate, no one (except perhaps the CAGW crowd) denies this.

      “… weather patterns are only temporarily out of whack …”

      Compared to what? There is nothing that is happening now that has not happened before.

      “By the way I visited sequoia national park in early January…”

      I am glad you were able to visit one of the natural wonders here in the USA, I hope you and your family had a great time.

      190

    • #
      deplorable lord kek

      we don’t get mega fires every year (all arguments used by commentators on this site) so why bother with elaborate control measures.

      Actually, proper control measures (ie large scale back burning) are necessary to prevent mega-fires, and always have been.

      Locking up areas of land as untouchable ‘national parks’ is not fire prevention.

      It is the opposite.

      So, for example, the desire to lock up large tracts of land as national parks to ‘save the koalas’ will actually have the opposite effect.

      Those koalas will all be incinerated in 5-20 years.

      380

      • #
        Peter Fitzroy

        See – same old assertions, no proof, but then you know, and i with all my book learning and field experience don’t

        133

        • #
          deplorable lord kek

          Australia fires: Aboriginal planners say the bush ‘needs to burn’

          Long before Australia was invaded and colonised by Europeans, fire management techniques – known as “cultural burns” – were being practised.

          The cool-burning, knee-high blazes were designed to happen continuously and across the landscape.

          The fires burn up fuel like kindling and leaf detritus, meaning a natural bushfire has less to devour.

          https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51043828

          210

        • #
          TedM

          Peter your reply to DLK doesn’t really mean a lot. You don’t know that he has no proof. There is a mass of data and field experience in DBCA WA (except for koalas) and CSIRO to support DLK’s comment.

          For 18 years I had a role with the department known variously as CALM, DEC and DPAW in fire surveillance, rare flora and fire effects. One of those roles was ground truthing for a scientist who was developing an algorithm for analysing the areas burnt, unburnt and degree burnt from reflectivity and satellite imaging. That meant that I went in on the ground following burns and gathered photographic documentation at various points as defined by the scientist. I also gathered data on the effect of wildfires and burns on rare and priority flora. I was left in no doubt that regular burns in low fuels is an environmentally sound management practice. Much more preferable to the boom and bust burning process, which can result in a bust that is long term or permanent.

          Having said that I do not support winter or spring burning although if fuel levels are allowed to get too high it can be the only safe way to conduct them. The seedlings of some obligate seeding species need a full autumn to develop before they can survive the following summer. Some geophytes can also be negatively impacted by winter or spring burning.

          It is a pity that fuel is so often permitted to increase to a level where autumn burning becomes unsafe or logistically impractical.

          270

          • #
            Maptram

            The proof that reducing the fuel load reduces the risk of fires may be relatively easy to find. How many areas of of Australia that burnt earlier this year will burn again next year. Probably very few, because there is no fuel

            180

          • #
            Graeme#4

            And I can quote the titles of these CSIRO studies PF. They are well worth reading to understand the depth of research that went into bushfire management in WA after the disastrous 1961 Dwellingup fires. As a result, WA now burns around 8% of its forests every year, compared to less than 2% for Victoria and NSW. The end result is that WA has far less major bushfires.

            60

          • #
            Peter Fitzroy

            Fine, that is the sort of information which informs discussion. I will say this, there can be no blanket fire policy for a country or even a state. Each biome must be approached with a eye to what is best to the ecosystem.

            Not going to happen here though is it “only wild tress” are effected in California- not worth a tinkers cuss.

            I think that Jo must have had a childhood trauma involving ‘wild’ trees, given here obvious disdain for them, Tame tree must be Ok thiugh

            04

    • #
      el gordo

      ‘After all Climate Change is not happening, weather patterns are only temporarily out of whack …’

      That can’t be right, sir. Everyone knows climate is always changing and weather patterns have altered due to a meandering jet stream. This has come about because a quiet sun puts pressure on the stratosphere.

      181

    • #
      RickWill

      Climate Change is not happening, weather patterns are only temporarily out of whack,

      This is not true. Climate Change is the result of long term weather trends and the weather is being permanently changed by fire suppression efforts. In fire prone areas, the weather is undergoing a long-term change due to suppression of small fires that inevitably result in much more intense fires that cause weather change; as a trend, it is termed Climate Change.

      This process has been known for a long time and is explained by a bushfire researcher, Christine Finlay, as presented to the NSW Bushfire Inquiry:
      https://www.dpc.nsw.gov.au/assets/bushfire-inquiry-submissions/0921-Christine-Finlay-20200601.pdf
      Figure 4 on page 14 shows the sequence of ever deteriorating fire conditions caused by the lack of cool burning and fire suppression efforts that provide the basis for increasing dry weather that makes fires more intense. The sequence spirals out of control with ever more fire suppression effort begetting ever more intense fires. Eventually completely changing the landscape.

      30

      • #
        Peter Fitzroy

        “increasing dry weather that makes fires more intense.” – that would be the unchanging climate?

        Face The Fact – climate change is real and we are driving it.

        122

        • #
          el gordo

          * chuckle *

          30

        • #
          Deplorable Lord Kek

          that would be the unchanging climate…

          Ah, yes, the mythical golden age…

          “This was the Golden Age that, without coercion, without laws, spontaneously nurtured the good and the true. There was no fear or punishment: there were no threatening words to be read, fixed in bronze, no crowd of suppliants fearing the judge’s face: they lived safely without protection. No pine tree felled in the mountains had yet reached the flowing waves to travel to other lands: human beings only knew their own shores. There were no steep ditches surrounding towns, no straight war-trumpets, no coiled horns, no swords and helmets. Without the use of armies, people passed their lives in gentle peace and security. The earth herself also, freely, without the scars of ploughs, untouched by hoes, produced everything from herself. Contented with food that grew without cultivation, they collected mountain strawberries and the fruit of the strawberry tree, wild cherries, blackberries clinging to the tough brambles, and acorns fallen from Jupiter’s spreading oak-tree. Spring was eternal, and gentle breezes caressed with warm air the flowers that grew without being seeded. Then the untilled earth gave of its produce and, without needing renewal, the fields whitened with heavy ears of corn. Sometimes rivers of milk flowed, sometimes streams of nectar, and golden honey trickled from the green holm oak.”

          https://ovid.lib.virginia.edu/trans/Metamorph.htm

          Too bad that is just a parody and no one (apart from CAGW true-believers) has ever seriously asserted it.

          60

          • #
            Peter Fitzroy

            Get a grip – I’m saying that climate change is real, it is been driven by man and these are the effects. OF course you can discount the science but that says more about you than the science

            014

          • #
            Lucky

            The Big Rock Candy Mountain
            The soda water fountains, the cops have wooden legs ..

            10

    • #
      el gordo

      For those lurkers unfamiliar with the argument, the large blocking high pressure off the east coast of Queensland exacerbated the bushfire season in Australia. It was out of whack with accepted norms, being in the wrong place for that time of year, bringing strong north westerly winds south.

      This wasn’t mentioned at the Inquiry.

      100

      • #
        glen Michel

        Spot on.

        30

      • #
        Peter Fitzroy

        Why is it out of whack – could it be the man made climate change?

        115

        • #
          el gordo

          A quiet sun compresses the atmosphere, which forces the jet stream to meander and disrupt the subtropical ridge. It has nothing to do with increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.

          60

        • #
          el gordo

          To reinforce my hypothesis, this current blocking high over the US is coupled with a meandering jet stream.

          https://www.weather.gov/oun/sfcmaps

          Note: NH high pressure goes clockwise, bringing warm dry winds from the south east.

          30

        • #
          beowulf

          All you nay-sayers out there, Peter has it exactly correct. It was extremely localised climate change that caused 23 major fires to ignite in 24 hours in Oregon, Washington state and California . . . along freeways, highways and major roads.

          Simultaneously the rate of urban arson in Portland OR and like-minded cities dropped dramatically. Could there be a connection? Is there just nothing left to burn in downtown Portland or have the Loonies shifted their focus to where it will do most harm and create the biggest headlines now that the Dems have tried to disavow the anti-law and order stance they have taken for the last 3-4 months? Suddenly burning cities has less political support from Biden and Co.

          Arson in cities is peaceful protesting by humans; arson in the brush is always the fault of global warming.

          140

          • #
            Peter Fitzroy

            I see, the arsonists made the forests dry and more likely to form a megafire. Clever buggers aren’t they?

            19

            • #
              beowulf

              No, the California mega-fires were courtesy of our eucalypts. The place is rotten with them. They are a pest species in a lot of the American west. We exported our trees and our bushfires into the naturally dry climate of California and surrounds.

              For a few thousand years of California megadrought/flood history, feel free to scroll down to the graph labelled “California Statewide PHDI” (Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index). Let us know if you can find any human footprint or a drought trend in that.
              https://cepsym.org/Sympro2009/Malamud-Roam.pdf

              And
              http://joannenova.com.au/2015/11/megadroughts-in-past-2000-years-worse-longer-than-current-droughts/

              The worst megadrought in the California and Nevada regions was from 832 to 1074 CE (golly, 242 years).

              Nothing new climate-wise. Nothing to see here except mismanagement of forests and fuel loads.

              No excessive fuel = no mega-fires. Simple.

              80

    • #
      Ted O'Brien.

      Firefighters well paid?

      When I was fighting bushfires there was no pay. The “pay” was in the protection of the whole community.

      After they introduced professional firefighters and locked us out of the National Parks we observed that professional fire-fighters just do not extinguish bushfires. They don’t have the instinct for it. Volunteers do, because they want to not have to come back tomorrow. Time and again we saw it. Time and again, with awful damage done. Locals had to go then into the National Parks without authority to kill off the last of the fire so it couldn’t blow away again next week.

      As for the sequoias. All my life I have known they were there and were for a time considered the oldest living things on earth. I don’t expect now to ever get to see them, but in Cook Park in the Main Street of Orange, NSW, there are half a dozen or so magnificent specimens, my guess about 30m tall, which couldn’t be much more than 150 years old. There are two plantations in Victoria about 80 years old which I want to go and see as soon as they open up the border. Being plantations I expect them to be taller and less massive.

      I remember once reading that the redwood is not especially flammable. It was found at the great earthquake in San Francisco that the fire damage was not as bad as it might have been because many buildings were constructed of the redwood timber.

      10

  • #
    Sambar

    Interestingly the Andrews government is in the process of handing over 8.5% of the total land area of Victoria to the Shepparton based Taungurung people. This area also covers aproximately 11% of all Victorias public lands.
    The area’s boundaries run roughly from Kyneton to Rochester, across to Bright and south down to Kinglake and across into Gippsland. CEO of the Taungurung Land and Waters Council said ”
    The traditional owners will oversee management planning for parks within the settlement agreement including Cathedral Range State park, Lake Eildon National park, part of Kinglake National park,part of theAlpine National park, Heathcote-Graytown National park, Mount Buffalo National park, Mount Samaria State park, Mount Wombat- Garden Range Flora and Fauna reserve and Wandong Regional park. Parks Victoria will share knowledge with the traditional owners.
    So, does this mean that once these lands are managed by the traditional owners they will be allowed to burn National parks? If so, will this be done in the traditional sense, i.e. light the fire and just let it go till it goes out? Lots of questions, not the least of which is how come this is going through quite quietly. How does a State government hand over PUBLIC lands ( and surplus PUBLIC buildings and property )to one group without very open and public debate. How does a government give NATIONAL parks over to a group without national consultation?

    210

    • #

      As like many visitors here I have never heard of this so I have appended a link on this interesting comment

      https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/state-flags-new-native-title-deal-for-spiritual-and-cultural-loss-20200214-p540z0.html

      Surely there must have been a lot of public debate and does it create a precedent for other places?

      110

      • #
        Sambar

        Tony, I live in the Upper Goulburn district, and while rumours were “around” This information just came out of the blue. Reported by The Yea Chronical and Alexandra Standard Wed 2nd Sept. Came as a bit of a shock to most locals.
        I listen to local radio constantly, didn’t hear it mentioned once. Thanks for adding the link, my computer skills sadly, suffer many short comings.

        90

        • #
          Annie

          Same here Sambar. No warning until the local paper mentioned and nothing on local radio that I noticed.

          50

          • #
            Sambar

            Hi Annie, I would have thought that reallocating control of 8.5% of the total area of Victoria would have been broadcast far and wide ( after all it only potentialy affects some 6 million “other” people ) Top marks for our local rags for this report. So much for Dictator Dans promise after the last election to have the “Most open and transparent ” government in the history of the state. I note that Murrindindi Shire council CEO Craig Lloyd recently met with the Taungurung Association to BEGIN GAINING AN UNDERSTANDING of the agreement. I would have thought that an understanding of any agreement would have been well known before its conclusion, not after it. As always, the devil is in the detail. What are the details? We will all find out when someone sees fit to tell us. Gotta love the way democracy works in Victoria.
            All after that I still hope that fuel reduction burns, for whatever reason, cultural or otherwise, are conducted in the National parks

            70

    • #
      GlenM

      Carte blanche for anyone claiming “indigeneity” to throw a match into the bush. A get off for arsonists.

      60

    • #
      BoyfromTottenham

      Sambar, was there any mention of how and whether these new custodians of 8.5% of Victoria are going to be able to afford to employ, train and pay the thousands of staff needed to manage this vast area? If not, then it is likely that it will result in fewer safe, cool burns and more wildfires, resulting no doubt in more loss of property and lives in areas adjoining these ‘native’ lands, as clearly happened in the recent disastrous bushfires in NSW, where I watched as many of the damaging fires started in National Parks but spread destruction far beyond the park borders. I am glad I don’t live anywhere near that part of Victoria.

      90

      • #
        Chad

        BoyfromTottenham
        September 11, 2020 at 8:57 am ·
        Sambar, was there any mention of how and whether these new custodians of 8.5% of Victoria are going to be able to afford to employ, train and pay the thousands of staff needed to manage this vast area? …….

        That is easy,… Vic tax payers and Federal Indigenous Grants, of course !
        But the real advantage is it gives the Vic Authorities an “out” if anything goes wrong..like another “black Saturday” event. !

        70

        • #
          Serp

          It’ll be tied in with the CCP United Front overall plan for Victoria; Dan expects us to wait until we need to know; maybe he’ll reveal more before the next state election.

          10

      • #
        Sambar

        Yes BFT the newspaper report says ” The agreement entails a settlement package. This includes funding to support the TLaWCAC to manage the settlements benifits and obligations, and undertakes economic development,measures to strengthen Taungurung culture, grants of nine parks and reserves as Aboriginal title,and up to five surplus public land parcels as freehold title, a regime for managing activity on public land and resource strategies for the Taungurung people to access, use and manage natural resources. The financial value of the settlement is approximately $34 million “

        31

    • #
      gowest

      Funny how they never “hand-over” land or assets belonging to the unions.

      30

  • #
    GlenM

    Pity that the native inhabitants burned all that forest all those years ago.I’m sure that they were aware of the risk. No matter they dealt with it without having climate change alaRMISTS ranting at them.

    60

  • #
    Ken Davis

    I like wild, ancient trees and have hugged a few in my years. After a recent tour of the ravaged south coast after last years fires, I’m pretty sure that even terrible fires do not obliterate ancient trees. They give them a bloody good pruning, but they mostly recover. Having said that, the Wollomi effort shows that we can be smart and focused and protect really significant stuff when we want to. The bigger threat is to wildlife from ever expanding population and settlement which makes it easier for a catastrophic event to take out a species that would have otherwise survived.

    61

    • #
      beowulf

      Interesting that you should bring up the subject of the Wollemi Pines protected down in their deep, damp gorge. When they were first studied it was noted that their trunks bore charring from previous fires. As far as I know no effort was made to date the charred material to determine the fire history of the gorge, as it was mainly botanists who were allowed into the restricted area.

      Back in December/January there was a big hoo-haa about protecting the pines, with the usual suspects claiming that the “unprecedented” fires were the first to ever threaten the Wollemis, whereas apparently the fires were very precedented. Protect the trees by all means, but don’t claim the fires were unprecedented.

      Incidentally there is a worrying trend appearing amongst those Wollemi Pines cultivated as a safeguard against destruction of the wild population, with trees growing well for several years then suddenly dropping dead. They are very fussy about the substrate they will grow in, with that sheltered gorge apparently providing the best of all conditions — wet, sandstoney rubble. Since they are all effectively clones with no genetic diversity, they are inherently vulnerable.

      60

  • #
    deplorable lord kek

    Why Won’t Anybody Listen?

    it must suit the agenda.

    60

  • #

    At the risk of appearing flippant, may I suggest a little experiment to demonstrate the relationship between fuel load/availability and fire intensity. It can be safely done in the safety and comfort of your own home.
    Go outside to your gas barbecue (or do it in your kitchen if you want to) and turn on one of the gas jets. Then turn the control knob to a higher setting and watch what happens. The flame will increase in size. Then turn the control knob back down again to a much lower setting and observe again. The flame will diminish.
    HYPOTHESIS – There may be realationship between the amount of fuel available and the intensity of the flame.
    Test your hypothesis by turning the gas jet off completely and coming back next day and doing it all over again. This will constitute the step of REPLICATION in your experiment. You will have conformed with the scientific method.I predict the results will be the same.
    It’s fairly basic physics.

    240

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      It doesn’t seem logical to provide refuges for animals where they can subsequently be fried. Perhaps the ban on collecting dead wood could be lifted. Roadside clearing also. Let volunteers collect the fallen twigs and branches and use them as fuel instead of gas or COAL.
      After all if they can burn wood in powerstations in Europe because “they don’t emit CO2″ why can’t we?

      130

      • #
        Chad

        I am particularly discusted with the INCREASE in roadside fuel load..certainly down the NSW South Coast Roads, sinf the last fires.
        It seems that the Council, Park, and State Forrest, authorities have simply moved any fallen treed, and deliberately felled trees, off into the treeline as a “Quick, easy and cheap way of “minimum response to a clean up.
        If/when the next fires take hold, they will be at their most severe, nearest to the roads…and hence more traffic vhaos.

        60

      • #
        RickWill

        It doesn’t seem logical to provide refuges for animals where they can subsequently be fried.

        The conditions in some of the bushfires last summer in Australia were more conducive to vaporising animals than frying them; literally gone in a flash. In some cases, no evidence that they ever existed. The fuel loads were incredible and the fires produced their own wind.

        One interesting observation where roads intersected steep gullies was that armorguard galvanised steel rails had lost galvanising and were badly distorted and the aluminium signs were converted to melted puddles on the ground.

        50

    • #
      Graeme#4

      A CSIRO study was done by measuring the amount of acreage burnt, fuel load, resulting fire intensity and heat energy produced. Also studied was the ability of a local bushfire brigade to put out these spot fires. At one stage a minor increase in acreage resulted in a dramatic change to the fire brigade’s ability to extinguish the fire, so there clearly was a threshold above which it was deemed impossible to stop the fire. And it wasn’t a very high fuel load either.

      10

    • #
      Analitik

      may I suggest a little experiment to demonstrate the relationship between fuel load/availability and fire intensity

      Brilliant!

      But the need for observation to support the hypothesis before drawing a conclusion goes against all the principles of climate science.

      20

  • #
    Peter C

    They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?

    A recent book published by Scott Adams (author of the Dilbert cartoons and a noted Climate Sceptic) may contain the answer, or at least part of the answer.
    “Win Bigly – persuasion in a world where facts don’t matter” was reviewed by Willis Eschenbach on WUWT.
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/09/08/the-climate-of-scott-adams/

    The review is not very long, so I recommend reading it.

    I am thinking of purchasing the book.

    40

    • #
      Deplorable Lord Kek

      Certainly, we are now in a Humean paradigm where the passions control the reason of 90% of the people 90% of the time.

      I don’t think this is a necessary condition, but it certainly assists ‘the powers that be’ to ‘demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry.’

      30

    • #
      RickWill

      I have already ordered it as a Christmas gift for a thoughtful relative who entertains discussions on Climate Change from a skeptical perspective. He is hard to convince on the motives and means of institutions to produce anything but reliable information. I am hoping the book will open that door for him.

      10

      • #
        RickWill

        My brother-in-law was amazed that Trump won the presidency in 2016. As were the vast majority of Australians. My calling of that months before the election did not harm my credibility.

        40

  • #
    BoyfromTottenham

    Jo, to answer the question in the headline, remember the adage ‘it is difficult to convince someone that something is wrong if their livelihood depends on it.’

    30

    • #
      RickWill

      Exactly – fire suppression is a massively growing business in Australia. Incredible resources are being thrown at fire suppression. The result of suppression is more fuel build up and then greater suppression effort to prevent the next fire. It is what is known as a vicious cycle. No different to an alcoholic drinking to forget their problems but the problems mounting so the drinking increased.

      Australia authorities have become hooked on fire suppression. It is explained here:

      Bushfire hierarchy has a track record of pocketing extra tens of millions after bad fires and then ignoring recommendations from government inquiries into those same fires. This culminated in the worst bushfire season in NSW history in 2019/20. Nationwide, 81 years of coronial and parliamentary inquiries and four royal commissions4 in the main faulted bushfire operations at the senior level. Foremost, inquiries recommended more fuel reduction, followed by more aggressive attack of potentially dangerous fires to stop them growing to unstoppable intensity; more use of local knowledge, and improved communication and logistics. After pocketing extra funds to purportedly fix the problem, bushfire and other responsible hierarchy then showed disinterest in implementing the crucial recommendations in the way they were intended, even refusing to participate in the 2003 House of Representatives and 2009 Senate bushfire inquiries

      The big money is in fire suppression. The hard work is in reducing fuel load. So suppression gets supported and reducing fuel load gets forgotten.

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    Bruce of Newcastle

    Classic la Nina wildfires in Oregon and California:

    Oregon Faces “Greatest Loss Of Life In State History” From Wildfires As La Nina “Threatens Bigger Blazes, Storms” (10 Sep)

    So what do the Democrats do? Just what you expect they would:

    Democrats Blame Wildfires on Global Warming (10 Sep)

    The irony with this is la Nina usually cools the globe by as much as one degree Celcius. So Democrats are literally blaming global cooling on global warming.

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      el gordo

      La Nina will produce floods in Australia and droughty conditions in California.

      ‘A La Niña typically means a dry winter across the southern United States, including Southern California.’ NOAA

      There will also be a temporary drop in world temperature, but if it bounces back to the plateau, then the Denialati would be sunk.

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    PeterS

    We already know why those in power and in the MSM aren’t listening. They are kowtowing to the far left. Nuff said on the matter. Move on.

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    TdeF

    “We keep doing overzealous fire suppression across California landscapes where the fire poses little risk to people and structures. As a result, wildland fuels keep building up.”

    Exactly the same in Melbourne. According to the Chief of Energy Safe Victoria, the state spends $100Million a year. This is mainly in Melbourne butchering beautiful low risk Elm and Plane trees around power lines. That is obviously because it’s easier. And it was caused by a (gum) tree branch in the country which fell on a power line. And how many bushfires have started in Malvern and Northcote and the city of Melbourne. It goes hand in hand with the Green Republicans who hate English trees as a symbol of British oppression or somesuch and want them all cut down. A mad idea of Environmental Social Justice, treeists. Like the racists who want special provision for individual races in the name of anti racism.

    So surely the $100Million a year could be spent better? Say in putting the power lines underground? Or is that too simple? But so many companies are making a killing doing something which does not need to be done as the crane trucks full of untrained chain saws holligans cruise the streets of Melbourne. It’s a terrible farce and total waste, in the name of bushfire prevention. In the inner city. Greens meet greed. Like Windmills.

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    Every year I warn people: Disaster’s coming. We got to change. And no one listens. And then it happens.

    sounds familiar

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      RickWill

      sounds familiar

      The difference with many other warnings is that those regarding wildfires actually materialise every year. The intensity is predictable by the amount of fuel on the ground. Worst factor is that effective fire suppression one year leads to more intense fire the next year. The only effective control is to remove the fuel. Long established knowledge that is conveniently forgotten because there is big money in wild fire suppression.

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    John F. Hultquist

    In the western USA megafires are in our future.
    Fire as been suppressed for so long that trees, brush, and grasses have generated massive fuel loads. Fires need Oxygen, a spark or ignition, and fuel. We have all three.
    Steps can be taken to lessen human disasters from these coming fires, but fuel removal on the scale needed is not going to happen.
    Read the first 8 words of that sentence again – - Steps can be taken to lessen human disasters … .
    Era of Megafires
    The Era of Megafires (EOM) is a multi-media presentation that combines the research of Dr. Paul Hessburg (Pacific Northwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service)

    or,
    Paul Hessburg – TED talk

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      RickWill

      A 100,000 acre fire in Australia is a backyard fire; a 10M acre fire is a Megafire.

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      RickWill

      This knowledge has been known In Australia for 4 decades but only seriously followed in one Australian State.

      One CO2 induced change that is not mentioned is the increasing forest productivity; trees able to grow faster and with less water. In fact I am coming to the view that the current evolution of trees is not coping well with the change in growth rate. Trees appear to becoming top heavy and far more prone to being blown over when the root system is damp or branches being broken off.

      One comment I strongly support in the second video is the use of mechanical extraction to get economic value from the wood. In 2018, Californian forests had 200Mt of dead wood on the ground and 300Mt of standing dead wood. The fires since then may have consumed that faster than it is accumulating but there will still be a significant mass of dead wood. Treating that as a resource for controlled combustion or building products would be smart.

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        John F. Hultquist

        Interesting idea — faster and top heavy.
        Trees, even dead ones can be a resource.
        Land owners and land managers need to find a way.

        I think someone said here or elsewhere, it is easier
        to do nothing and let it burn.

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      Roger Knights

      If logging were allowed to create wide firebreaks, megafires would be reduced.

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    OriginalSteve

    “They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?”

    Answer – the Elite follow a UN-driven Agenda 21/30 that according to their occult pagan religion, requires driving people out of the countryside into cities. This is also called “Rewilding”.

    This is why they are happy to let people be burnt out…so they get sick of it and leave the countryside.

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    Tmatsci

    It is well established in Australia that a fuel load of 2kg/m2 (~7oz/sq.ft) of dry vegetation fuel cannot be extinguished once it is well alight. It is simply not possible to get enough water on the surface to absorb the heat of combustion and reduce the temperature of the remaining fuel below its ignition temperature. While water may reduce the temperature of the burning fuel and reduce the spread of flame to unburnt area it is necessary to allow the burning fuel to more or less completely combust and then go around afterwards putting out spot fires where fuel has reignited as the water evaporates.

    In Eastern Australia, growth rates in temperate forests are rapid enough to drop a carpet of vegetation (bark, leaves, fruit, flowers, dead branches etc) of 2 kg/m2 in 2 or 3 years and the same probably occurs in drier climates as well. This material will not ignite unless it is dried out which usually happen every year in dry climates like Australia or the west coast of North America. This means that once ignition occurs an unstoppable fire will eventuate where this vegetation accumulates. (Australian experience is that most fires occur due to human involvement either accidentally or as a result of some equipment failure. So fires are almost inevitable in occupied areas.)

    The native peoples of Australia used to regularly burn the vegetation usually during cool months and after rain thus producing cool burns – i.e. burns that revitalised the landscape by clearing small shrubs and germinating the fire dependent vegetation without destroying the parents of that vegetation. Cool burns also allowed the fauna to take shelter or flee the fire but of course some would be killed and this was also a hunting technique for the lean seasons. Furthermore hawks have been observed to pick up burning twigs and spread the fire to unburnt land to also drive out small prey such as lizards and insects etc. So the fire in this case benefits at least one non human species as well. Anyone who has lived in rural Australia will be well aware of the burst of growth that occurs within a few weeks after a small fire. It is also important to know that such fires do not cause fire tornados which are the source of major damage to large trees and human structures.

    All this is well known and it seems that in Australia after yet another series of inquiries, we are seeing some relaxation of the rules on clearing of fallen vegetation. However, vast areas of country the still carry large fuel loads with the potential for catastrophic fires to still occur. This is not made any easier by the fact that many Australians (like Americans) have chosen to make a tree change and moved into fire prone areas without realising the potential hazards.

    It is time to look at fire in the landscape as a friend and protector of us humans and the ecosystem as a whole. However, fire must be properly managed according to the circumstances so that we use its behaviour to our advantage and that of our environment. This does not mean that there is a universal management system for all circumstances but there are certainly principles that we need to follow.

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      Graeme#4

      Well said sir. And if only 2% or less of the forests are being burnt off every year, the fuel load must exceed these figures.

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      OriginalSteve

      I recall a csiro publication that said with gum trees they drop 5 tonnes per year per hectare of wood, and kg for kg it burns with same BTU heat output as brown coal.

      Gives you understanding why a fire is hard to stop.

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    Richard Ilfeld

    Even if the claims of man-caused climate change were correct, they would be virtually irrelevant to the current western fires situation.
    The order of magnitude of accumulated fuel and suppressed burns relative to natural processes dwarfs any possible contribution of increased
    risk due to climate; a few degrees of temperature and a little humidity over a few decades are insignificant to the level of accumulation.
    The fire pattern in California is evident from natural evidence as having been consistent through hundreds of years, and through climate change
    naturally occurring and equivalent in scope to that postulated for man. There is a reason all of the giant sequoias are about the same height.

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    Andrew McRae

    [Jo:] The incentives are all wrong. There is a risk in doing cool burns, but no immediate risk in foregoing them. And among other things, fires are big business.

    [Ingalsbee:] Or a purpose-designed Lockheed Martin FireHerc, a cousin of the C-130. How cool is that? Still only 30% of retardant is dropped within 2,000 yards of a neighborhood, meaning that it stands little chance of saving a life or home.

    Yes, big helitacks and waterbomber planes look cool. Remember, it’s not wrong in itself to spend money on things that look cool.
    But there is perhaps an argument to be made in terms of value for money. This is mainly for the taxpayers who are going to be especially encumbered by Covid19 recovery debts for years to come. But there are also several large private forestry operators in Australia who need to control fire. Aerial suppression is usually described as very expensive, although actually getting dollar figures for it is more difficult. Roger Underwood describes the VLATs as “nearly $50,000 an hour for every hour it is in the air, and not much less when it is simply on standby on the ground.”

    Dr Andrew Sullivan from CSIRO says “Research has shown that halving the level of hazard presented by fuel will roughly double the chances of firefighters successfully attacking and suppressing a fire on first attack.” So it sounds like the main use of waterbombing is usually not to actually extinguish the fire, but to temporarily make it more feasible to attack by ground crews. More cool burns pre-season may prevent Megafires™, but they do not eliminate bush fires nor the need for suppression in rugged terrain – and the only solutions we have right now are very expensive.

    There is surely a business case that can be made here for finding new ways to suppress wildfires and hazard reduction burns that have escaped containment, and to do this effectively and safely at some distance out in the bush to reduce the chance of smoke and embers impacting on homes and to reduce the size of mop-up area, and to do all this at a significantly lower lifecycle cost than current aircraft.

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    kentlfc

    Fire retardant that’s full of phosphorus…that feeds the trees so they grow out of control, with no clearing….that burn again in the next fire….that fire gets phosphorus rich fire retardant dropped on it…that feeds the trees so they grow….you can see how this transpires!

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    observa

    All I see on the news from US is burned out homes amongst burnt out trees. Seems the same as in Australia but the trees are different shapes. Never seen so many burnt out homes in Adelaide suburbs although the climate is always changing just the same as in the bush. Could be worth investigating.

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