JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Skeptics win on fires: ABC quietly flips — suddenly it’s fire management not climate change to blame

This is how the paradigm changes. The old activism is quietly dropped down the memory hole…

Buried in a save-the-koala story on ABC News tonight is an ABC journalist saying for the first time that it is “current fire management practices” that are the problem. Rani Hayman didn’t say fuel load, but she might as well have. The reference to “indigenous fire practices” makes it obvious that the ABC means more hazard reduction burns (not that they can say so). She also didn’t say “climate change” — write it in your diary. On November 14th, the same ABC journalist was only interviewing the posterboys who blamed “climate change” for the fires. 

UPDATE: Holy smoke — the Sydney Morning Herald also appear to have flipped hours earlier in the morning and in a much stronger and more direct way. Regular SMH reader Dave B sends in the link and says “wow… here’s a huge surprise”. Finally a spot of real journalism. Was this story the last nail in the ABC fuel-load denial?

Prescribed burning ‘key to controlling fires’.  

By Tim Barlass, Sydney Morning Herald

Expert says blazes have burnt where hazard-reduction took place two years ago. [...]

ABC discovers data (on facebook) showing wet rainforest has not burned once, ever, or at all, in “tens of millions” of years

This is striking new finding by ABC journalist Ann Arnold that for some reason has not yet been published in a science journal.

Some mystery remains, however as to which dataset could rule out any and all fires in the last 30,000,000 years, or indeed which dataset could prove that those forests and trees have existed in the same place continuously. We keenly await more details on the high resolution sedimentary pollen and missing ash deposit that could show that there were never fires, not one, especially during the Miocene when Antarctica thawed around 24 million years ago and stayed hot for ten million continuous years.

It’s all the more remarkable given that temperatures have varied in the Antarctic by 15 degrees Celcius over the same period, and for 20 million years out of the last 30, it was even hotter than today.

Scientists keenly look forward to seeing those error bars, though one critic, Dr Hyperbowlie suggested the p-values “might be greater than 1. ”

Global Temperature estimates over the last 65 million years.

Bushfires devastate rare and enchanting wildlife as ‘permanently wet’ forests burn for first time

Ann Arnold, ABC, Saturday Extra

These forests have [...]

Whole of NSW coast shrouded in dust and smoke, 47C in Hunter Valley (75 years ago)

This week 75 years ago. Dust storms, bush fires and unbelievable heat across New South Wales. 118 fahrenheit is 47 degrees C, and there were 100+ temperatures in many places. The sun appearred as a “red sky”. A dust storm created a “terror” in Mildura (just like last week in 2019).

In Parkes, it was the worst dry spell on record. People were going without milk because the cows have died. Thanks to Siliggy, Lance Pidgeon. Holy apocalypse!

RAGING DUST FURY INLAND, STRANGE CITY LIGHT GLOW The Sun, November 1944

The air was calm in Sydney today, but diffusion of sunlight through a dense blanket of fine dust bathed the city in a strange orange glow. Practically the whole of the NSW coast this morning lay under a shroud of yellowish-red dust and bushfire smoke blown from inland regions.

Maximum temperature in Sydney today was 98.7 degrees at 2.55 pm. Early reports at the Weather Bureau today indicated that a heatwave, unprecedented in intensity, was raging’ practically everywhere in northern, western and southern NSW.

Temperatures in many centres remained at over 100 degrees throughout the week-end. At Jerry’s Plains, Hunter Valley district, the mercury [...]

This is the “old normal” — these fires are mid to late season fires for NSW

Fires in Spring? It’s normal for fires to peak in Spring in NSW

Greg Mullins is a former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner and a councillor on the Climate Council, he implies in the Sydney Morning Herald that this is abnormal and that fires are starting earlier: 

If anyone tells you, “This is part of a normal cycle” or “We’ve had fires like this before”, smile politely and walk away, because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

In NSW, our worst fire years were almost always during an El Nino event, and major property losses generally occurred from late November to February. Based on more than a century of weather observations our official fire danger season is legislated from October 1 to March 31. During the 2000s though, major fires have regularly started in August and September, and sometimes go through to April.

This year, by the beginning of November, we had already lost about as many homes as during the disastrous 2001-2002 bushfire season. We’ve now eclipsed 1994 fire losses.

Mosomoso: The fire season in NSW is spring — this is not early, this is “late season”

For those [...]

In 1946 — 800 miles of fires “stretched from Brisbane to Townsville”

In 1946 fires burned in an “almost unbroken chain from Brisbane to Townsville”. They lit up the sky at night, pushed plumes of smoke 3,000 ft in the sky, that looked like “Bikini Atoll”. And this was July…

Qld 1946: Now that’s what I call Hazard Reduction

Believers of man-made-weather say that warmer drier conditions and longer fire seasons are preventing hazard reduction burns. Aside from the fact that a warmer world is not a drier world, and rainfall trends have gone up not down, this is a snowflakes excuse. Even if it were true, the answer is to get more serious about burning off when conditions are cooler.

Thanks to Siliggy, Lance Pidgeon for the pointer. This is what Queenslanders used to do when they were serious about stopping wildfires. Their view of dry brush was that it was waiting like tinder…

Fortunately yesterday, Armageddon didn’t come to the East Coast. But it might have.

800 Miles Of Fires Along the North Coast

The Courier Mail, Monday July 29th, 1946

Trove, National Library of Australia

By a Staff Correspondent TOWNSVILLE, Sunday. — Fires are burning to-night in an almost unbroken chain from the edge of Brisbane to Townsville, [...]

Opportunists and the backlash: Tree changers meet a megafire, and Greens meet some rage

Catastrophic fires are predicted tomorrow across the East Coast of Australia.  Around 500 schools will be closed tomorrow. Some 400,000 people have been warned “to be ready. Thousands are evacuated. A state of emergency has been declared. 1,400 interstate fire fighters have gone to NSW to help.

For updates about  New South Wales, check the NSW RFS website. For Queensland, see the QLD RFS website.

MyFireWatch has a live map updated regularly with outbreaks.

——————————————————————

How close and thick was that forest?

Shots from the ABC news Monday. To appreciate what happened, see the moving scene as people approach these ruins through tiny lanes surrounded by dense forest. (Full ABC segment below).

Bobin, NSW, Fire damage, ABC News

Look at the trees around this house at Rainbow Flat

The backlash begins

The opportunistic greens are already crying “climate change” while firestorms rage and lives are potentially under threat

Greens playing politics with fire, say Labor and Coalition

Greg Brown, The Australian

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale sparked fury from both major parties when he said the ­nation’s emissions policy had caused the fires that killed three people and injured 100.

Greens policies increasing bushfire [...]

But weren’t solar panels supposed to stop bushfires?

Scenes of Armageddon in New South Wales today and people are calling it a climate emergency on twitter. Ban new coal mines! Blame Tony Abbott!  (See #nswbushfires). So far there are three deaths, and 150 houses lost (at least). The latest report tonight from @NSW RFS is that at 12:30am, there were 74 bush fires across NSW, 43 still not under control.

@smhussey This was the view over Northern NSW last night.

Passengers flying out of the Gold Coast said they couldn’t get away from the flames. #NSWfires

Details:https://t.co/xiUiZn9Ygh  CREDIT Zach Firth on Facebook

Frightening at any time, especially so this early in the season. It wasn’t that long ago we would have still been undertaking small hazard reduction burns at this time of year. Not any more.#NSWbushfires #QLDbushfirespic.twitter.com/Wchw4NDl8U

— ÆnesidemusOZ ⓒ 抗 (@AenesidemusOZ) November 9, 2019

Wow. That is a lot of forest being converted into cloud in that satellite image.

 

Too much fuel causes extreme bush fires, not climate change

67 years of hazard reduction in Western Australia shows exactly how to control wildfires. It’s just chemistry.

We leave all that fuel lying around then get surprised when [...]

California: maybe prescribed burns once every 500 years are not enough?

 

California’s devastating Kincaid Fire located in Sonoma County has grown to over 66,000 acres and NASA’s Terra satellite captured this dramatic image of the smoke plume cascading down the coast. OCt 27, 2019.  |  NASA image.

In Western Australia (WA) we have incendiary gum trees, regular droughts, and humidity so low that sometimes the clothes dry in the washing machine. Far be it for me to tell Californians how to manage their forests, but thought it worth a mention that Western Australian State govt do managed burns on 8% of the forest each year, and our top experts say it should be twice as much.

Compare that to California, where the rate of prescribed burning is now around 0.2% of the forest or so. Not the same type of fire-loving trees, but still the flammable kind…

BushfireFront: WA burns about 8% annually

  A regime of green burning also produces a healthier and more vigorous forest and is better for biodiversity. This approach was applied rigorously in WA forests for nearly 30 years, with tremendous success. Unfortunately since about the 1980s green burning has been under constant attack from environmentalists and academics. As a result, in Victoria [...]

Fires in August in 1951 in Queensland were described as “catastrophic” when CO2 was 311ppm

 The Bushfire season started in August in 1951 in Queensland

In 1946 in August “Mt Archer, in the Kilcoy district, was a 1500 ft torch tonight”. The 1951 fires did £2m of damage, and within three years the people of Queensland responded by creating six times as many fire teams and more firebreaks. One farmer put in 500 miles of firebreaks on his own property.

Since then humans have put out 85% of all the CO2 emissions we have ever put out, showing that cutting our emissions by 85% (in reality, even going wildly negative to get back to 311ppm) won’t stop fires in August in Queensland.

We don’t have a climate emergency, we have a history emergency. It’s like hundreds of years and the effort of thousands of people just doesn’t exist.

16 Aug 1951:  Adelaide Advertiser: Bushfire out of control in Queensland.

11 Aug 1951:  Townsville Daily Bulletin: Bush Fires Rage Over Wide Areas

 

The outbreaks hare been the worst for years. The fire risk is being maintained by westerly winds and the tinder-dry nature of the land.

Flames are laping 60 ft high and whirlwinds carrying blazing foliage and [...]

It’s a Science Emergency: How many fires can Australia stop with solar panels and windfarms?

As some fires rage, parts of the nation are gripped with witchcraft.

What to do about wildfires?

Skeptics think we should stop firestorms by reducing fuel loads, and clearing firebreaks. Unskeptical scientists on the other hand are talking about going vegan, swapping light globes, installing windmills and photovoltaic panels and of course…. planting more trees. Oh the dilemma? Should we stop fires with firebreaks or wave some solar panels? Yea, verily, let’s control fires on Mt Tamborine by cooling the world?  Hail Mary and line up the wind towers to face north at the equinox!

Joelle Gergis has a PhD in climate science, yet even she apparently believes that these fires are caused by coal plants, and could have been prevented if only we installed enough solar panels. It says a lot about what a PhD is worth these days. It also says a lot about the Australian National University, and all of it is sad.

Gergis, in particular, is not the only one, but she is all “moss drenched” hype and marketing, no caveats, no qualifiers, and no error bars.

“I never thought I’d see the Australian rainforest burning. What will it take for us to wake [...]

Firestorm of Fake News: “convenient” global hysteria about Amazon based on nothing but twitter pics

Look who’s feeding the fake news?

Global Fire Data shows this year is unequivocally a low fire season in the Amazon. But social media tears and outrage is running at 1000% driven by old photos and fake facts of the Amazon producing “20% of our planet’s oxygen”.

And the media experts reported the house was on fire in the lungs of the world, or something to that effect. They didn’t check the data, didn’t ask hard questions.

Based on hyperbolic twitter pics French leader Macron is threatening to cancel a foreign trade deal. The hype serves the purpose of attacking the right wing Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro in the lead up to a G7 summit this week…

Who’s feeding the twitter flames?

@EmmanuelMacron

The photo he used? It’s a stock photo from Loren McIntyre, a photographer who died in 2003.   h/t  @Desesquerdizada

Funding cuts have created plenty of enemies

Many people have a reason to want Bolsonaro to look bad: In May Bolsonaro withdrew an offer to host a United Nations Latin America and Caribbean climate week. In the same week, the president fired self-confessed “militant environmentalist” Alfredo Sirkis, then-leader of The Brazil Forum [...]

Supernova caused lightning, which caused fires, which (maybe) caused humans to stand upright

Back in the unpoliticized Pliocene it’s possible that cosmic rays bombarded Earth and triggered lightning which started fires all around the Earth. This may (warning: speculation) have pushed human ancestors to stand on two legs. In the politicized Holocene, however cosmic rays are “irrelevant”. Ancient cosmic rays can set the Earth on fire apparently, change dominant species, and leave a charcoal layer around the Earth. But changes in cosmic rays lately can *not* cause any changes in modern lightning and cloud cover.

Color me skeptical that there is a cause and effect link between fires and homo-four-legs becoming homo-two-legs. It’s possible, and interesting, but a little bit “just so”. There are many advantages in standing upright — seeing further, reaching higher, standing in water, and carrying booty or babies. Some dinosaurs also evolved to be bipedal.

The study reminds us that for most of human history Space Weather was important. It’s only modern climate models that decree astronomical-stuff = zero.

Another previous study showed that lightning strikes occur in time with the spinning Sun in 150 year old Japanese farm records.

Did ancient supernovae prompt human ancestors to walk upright?

Supernovae bombarded Earth with cosmic energy [...]

Huge bang and house burns to the ground — just an e-bike battery mishap

World made 0.000001°C cooler, but house made 600°C hotter

Remember The Precautionary Principle: something about “no House-B”?

An Orange Flash and then Melanie’s House Burnt Down

Melanie Sandford was sitting in bed on a rainy Sunday morning listening to a podcast about enlightenment when she heard a “huge bang”.

“A nanosecond later, there was an orange flash that ripped down past the bedroom door,” Ms Sandford said.

All signs point to the lithium ion battery of Ms Sandford’s beloved eZee Sprint e-bike as the culprit.

The firefighters arrived promptly – “I’m told it was four minutes but it felt like three hours” – but it was too late to save her home.

Another hidden battery cost?

GlowWorm Bicycles said eZee has recalled some faulty batteries, but lists these Handy safety tips for all e-bike batteries: Don’t charge them unsupervised, don’t overcharge, undercharge, charge near flammable things or charge overnight, and have a fire safety plan.

B A T T E R Y       S A F E T Y

[...]

Too much fuel causes extreme bush fires, not climate change

What was Australia’s Environment Minister thinking?

Melissa Price succumbs to pagan witchcraft:

“There’s no doubt that there’s many people who have suffered over this summer. We talk about the Victorian bushfires; (in) my home state of Western Australia we’ve also got fires there,” [Melissa Price] told Sky News this morning. “There’s no doubt that climate change is having an impact on us. There’s no denying that.”

L

WA

Let’s look at her home state. After 67 years of fire management in the giant, hot, dry state of WA, the trend is clear — the more prescribed area we burn, the less wildfire does.  In the graph below the prescribed burns declined for forty years and wildfires increased for thirty. After the Dwellingup Fire in 1961 the state ramped up the preventative burns, and reduced wildfires.

As the BushFireFront team say:

“We can’t control the weather but we can control the fuel loads“

Tough call — what do we do, redesign our energy system, pay billions, change our cars, our houses and our light globes in the hope that bush fires will be nicer, or do we just go back to doing what [...]

Man-made US bushfires caused by PG&E, being sued for $30b: may take down some renewables too

Everyone “knows” fires are caused by climate change, but how many Australians know that when it comes to the huge Californian fires of October 2017 as many as 750 civil suits have been filed against  Pacific Gas & Electric  (PG&E),the 150 year old utility in California? The fire bill is running at around $30 billion dollars. PG&E are facing financial ruin, calling in a Chapter 11, and going broke.

That’s bad news for people filing the claims, but it is also bad news for renewable energy.PG&E are a major holder of some $35 billion dollars in long term green energy contracts many of which are at above market rates. PG&E may not have to pay out those high prices which means the Green industry will be hurt too.

What goes around comes around. Bad science begets bad business. The Green Industry could have cared enough about the environment to speak out about reducing fire risks through managing fuel loads, and the fires would have been less damaging. Instead they were busy putting up windfarms to stop bushfires instead.

Meanwhile their friends are still doing their best to increase fuel loads in order to reduce CO2 (and stop bushfires).

PG&E Bankruptcy Threatens [...]