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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On average bushfires burn an amazing 50 million ha every year in Australia

From the other side of the world comes this extraordinary collection of data that few in Australia seem aware of.

File this fact away: Satellite datasets show that in an average year 50 million hectares burns around Australia. In a quiet year, it’s only 20 million hectares, but in a busy year it gets close to 100 million hectares. A lot of this land area is in the far north and western part of the continent, which is hot and often arid. It’s not the same as the cool wet corner of South East Australia which has some of the tallest trees in the world. The fuel loads in the north are much lower (like the trees).

Some parts of the top end burn nearly 100%, year after year. It’s no accident that the awful devastation this year was not in the red hot firezone on the map below, but in the South East corner where less than 5% of the area burns each year. The rarely burnt is the risky zone where there is a 20 year build up of fuel. Some areas are on a 1 in 100 year rotation or even slower. There were places this year [...]

Off the charts: Bushfires may be 20 times more intense than the largest fires humans can control

Ten times the fuel means 100 times the intensity

Hardly anyone is talking about these numbers yet they show just how far beyond our control the pyroconvective firestorms are and why we need to be so much smarter at preventing them. They also show how irrelevant temperatures onsite are, compared to fuel load and wind speed.

Controllable fires are 3MW per meter, but we now have loads of 70MW/m

Not only are these fires obscenely, catastrophically intense, it doesn’t matter how much fire fighting equipment we buy, how many dams we empty, they are a man-made disaster, and we’ve known for years how to prevent them. (Some would say, thousands of years). The message in here is that cool controllable burns are tiny, less damaging, and far less intense. The pyroconvective monsters are totally different creatures.

Andrew Bolt interviewed fire expert David Packham in November:

Top fire expert David Packham says forget global warming. It’s the reckless failure to burn-off fuel loads that have turned parts of Australia into death traps. Near Melbourne “we’re looking down the barrel in these areas at 1000 deaths”.

His key point is that if we increase the fuel by ten, [...]

ABC says Arson = 1%. NSW police say 42% of fires are man-made. 9% are “natural”. Rest unknown. (So far)

It’s an arson epidemic

Holy Smoke Batman! An astonishing 12,000 fires have started in New South Wales since August. The police have investigated 1700 so far. Of those, fully 42% are described as “deliberately lit” which includes both intentional and accidental and at the moment police refuse to put a number on how many are truly arson, as opposed to people deliberately lighting a campfire which ran amok. Only 156 fires of the total investigated, or 9%,  were caused naturally (presumably that means by lightning).

Another 745 fires of the 1700 are not yet determined. There seems plenty of scope to increase the number of man-made fires but I would assume the extent of lightning strikes are already known.

‘Like nothing we’ve ever seen before’: police step up bushfire investigations

Forty specialist police officers will investigate to zero in on and profile would-be arsonists. “Strike Force Tronto is about profiling. It’s about zeroing in on serial arsonist behaviours that occurs during the bushfire period,” he said.

“That sets the framework for the next fire season so that we do zero in on and target those individuals who we believe may be involved in arsonist behaviour. “This [...]

57 Bushfire Inquiries isn’t enough. We need one more for leaders to hide behind

Big Government strangles our ecosystems just like it strangles scientific research.  Australia has had 57 bushfire inquiries since 1939. We knew what was coming and we knew how to stop it, and we’ve known for eighty years (and indigenous people for thousands). Instead we paid a garrison of gravy trainers to not-read-those-reports and to create the exact conditions we knew would turn into a pyroconvective catastrophe. State Premiers missed a major threat to their people, their industry, our environment. On top of the death and destruction toll, just one industry, tourism, is looking at a $4.5b loss. Heads must roll. If they were misled, then name the names.

Our institutions failed us: The CSIRO didn’t save us, the ABC didn’t. What’s the point of them? Academics and CRC’s could’ve warned the nation, but instead most experts and the “reporters” said renewable energy would prevent these fires, even though climate change has made no difference to rainfall or droughts, which are driven by ocean currents, and solar cycles, not carbon dioxide. Let’s promote those who got it right, and turn off the tap to those that didn’t. Who pays damages? Who gets sacked?

Just do it: less fuel, less rules, more [...]

Climate change is the excuse to hide an Inferno of Incompetence — heads must roll for the billion dollar bushfire mistakes

Whose fault was it and will they get away with it (like all the other times)?

Twenty seven people died, a billion animals, 2,000 homes, tourism wrecked and a plume of smoke stretched from here to South America. Unless heads roll, this cycle repeats every 10 – 20 years. Imagine if the media was demanding to know how State Premiers had allowed this catastrophe, or if the opposition was accusing the government of listening to the Ivory Tower instead of the firies? The problem is, they’re all complicit. Both sides of politics are guilty, and the media didn’t see this coming either.

We can recognise those avoiding responsibility by the way they fob off hard questions:

1. Let’s blame “climate change” (because these fires are “normal” now, get used to it. Plus luckily no one ever says — “you mean it’s China’s fault?”)

2. Let’s say “now’s not the time to play the blame game” and,

3. Coming soon:  “let’s wait for the Royal Commission, or Almighty Investigation, or 28th Fire Report” — or whichever comes last. (Who wants to preempt a report even if we already know what it will say. )

But [...]

Inferno on Black Friday 1939: 71 deaths, 3,700 buildings, too much fuel and “lit by the hand of man”

Omeo . Image courtesy of Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Victoria. More photos

Those who don’t know history…

On Black Friday 1939, on a day of high wind and savage 45 degree heat (110 Fahrenheit) many separate fires joined forces in Victoria to make mass conflagrations, one of which burned most of the western flanks of the Snowy Mountains all the way to New South Wales. In the end the conflagration burned through two million hectares, 3,700 buildings, 69 mills and killed 71 people. Five towns were completely destroyed –  never to be rebuilt. At the time, the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide was 310ppm and 90% of all human emissions were yet to be made. Climate Change has nothing to do with it.

In the end, they were horribly unprepared, the forests were horribly overgrown and the weather was horribly extreme.

Men who had lived their lives in the bush went their ways in the shadow of dread expectancy. But though they felt the imminence of danger they could not tell that it was to be far greater than they could imagine. They had not lived long enough.

The Stretton Royal Commission into the Black Friday fires [...]

“Bombshell” Nostra-Ross-Garnaut got one thing accidentally right

The Daily Mail breathlessly recycles Ross Garnaut’s 2008 Climate Change report which predicted every kind of disaster. They don’t mention that nearly every fire report since time began predicted extreme widespread uncontrollable fires from unmanaged fuel loads. But those experts have cause and effect. Garnaut has magic spells from climate models.

He apparently mentioned the first effects wouldn’t be seen til 2020, and here we are, “week one”. Spooky!

This is more and more like analyzing Climate Astrology.

How a bombshell report PREDICTED Australia’s bushfire crisis with eerie precision 12 years ago

The article is being derisively mocked in most comments there.

I predict that the Daily Mail Australia will soon ban comments like the ABC, and The Guardian.

[...]

A woodchip mill is better for the environment than greens are

Instead of vaporising a million trees we could have made money, saved lives, homes, property and millions of animals.

Local environmental groups rejoiced that the Eden Woodchip Mill burnt down, then deleted the comment. But ponder, after a man-made inferno, how much better off would the nation have been if we’d chopped down that forest and sold it instead.

“YESSS!!! Some really good news! The Eden Chip Mill is burning down. ” — Environment East Gippsland EEG

Joy of joys. Even the woodchip pile is on fire?    Credit to Jill Redwood from Goongerah who made the first post about the Eden Chip mill burning

Ask a koala: Is it better to chop half the trees down, or incinerate the whole forest?

A lack of hazard reduction hurts in so many ways.

 

 

 

Fire policy shift: Government says “hazard reduction” to stop fires. Labor says “Carbon market”

A nation watches the fires. The Australian Navy has rescued around 1,100 people and 250 pets. Thousands of other have fled. Thousands more on the SE corner of Australia have been chopping down trees, cleaning properties, waiting in queues for fuel and food. Today is forecast to be as bad as New Years Eve when 380 houses burnt down. Temperatures will be above 40 C — up to 45C inland in places like Wagga Wagga.  (Right now, perhaps there’s a BOM site glitch but temperatures from Nowra south range from 30 -45?) Humidity levels will be very low. But a cooler change is coming late. Things should be much better on Sunday. Best wishes for everyone on the front line.

Suddenly, many people are taking “hazard reduction”. If only it weren’t too late.

Meanwhile the Labor Party still hope to reduce bushfires with an international carbon market. Good luck with that. A carbon market is form of carbon tax that sends money overseas and will make their friends at the UN and Goldman Sachs happy, but probably won’t impress the workers the Labor party used to serve. The only way it will stop fires is if people clearfell old growth [...]

Aboriginals didn’t need a water bomber God to save them from Government nurtured firestorms

There is no lake, no dam large enough to put out the firestorms we have created

Like some kind of cargo cult, modern inhabitants pray to the sky for enough water bombers to keep things they love safe. They fret that the season for safe burning is too short, while they leave the litter to burn at the most dangerous time possible. The quest for perfect forests, perfect air, and perfect centralized planning is the perfect recipe for a catastrophe. Utopia burns again.

This is a great article by Viv Forbes describing how radically different fire “management” was in ancient times. Management being almost like non stop arson. The main rule, apparently, was to light often and always, and never extinguish.  — Jo

_______________________________________ Fighting Fires with Fire

by Viv Forbes

Firestick farming Joseph Lycett. Circa 1817.  Australian National Library.

The Power of the Torch “There can be few if any races who for so long were able to practice the delights of incendiarism.”                 Geoffrey Blainey “Triumph of the Nomads – A History of Ancient Australia.” Macmillan 1975.

The Fire-lighter was the most powerful tool that early humans brought to Australia.

Fires lit by aborigi

nal [...]

Climate change and bushfires — More rain, the same droughts, no trend, no science

Here’s the anti-witchdoctor kit for bushfires and “climate change”

Hi to all the new readers. Keep these graphs handy…

To Recap: In order to make really Bad Fires we need the big three: Fuel, oxygen, spark. Obviously getting rid of air and lightning is beyond the budget. The only one we can control is fuel. No fuel = no fire.   Big fuel = Fireball apocalypse that we can;t stop even with help from Canada, California, and New Zealand.

The most important weather factor is rain, not an extra 1 degree of warmth. To turn the nation into a proper fireball, we “need” a good drought.  A lack of rain is a triple whammy — it dries out the ground and the fuel — and it makes the weather hotter too. Dry years are hot years in Australia, wet years are cool years. It’s just evaporative cooling for the whole country. The sun has to dry out the soil before it can heat up the air above it.  Simple yes?  El Nino’s mean less rain (in Australia), that’s why they also mean “hot weather”.

So ask a climate scientist the right questions and you’ll find out what [...]

2019 Wildfires burn 20 times as much land as managed fuel reduction in NSW (so far)

The conversation Australia needs: should we prevent fires with prescribed burns or solar panels?

The wildfires in NSW  so far have burned 2,700,000 ha or, if it were one square area –a box 164km x 164km and destroyed at least 720 houses (that was Dec 11).

The dilemma: will it be managed fires, or unmanaged wildfires to reduce the fuel? Or if you are Tim Flannery who says it’s “immoral not to connect the dots“, the question is “how many solar panels will it take to stop those houses burning down?” Or perhaps “how do we stop lightning”?

This is the rough size of the controlled hazard reduction target area, as carried out for NSW compared to the area of “hazard-reduction” by Mother Nature. The area of official hazard reduction by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is 135,000 ha, equivalent to a square of dimensions 36km x 36km. There would be some other private fuel reduction. Can anyone find figures for that?

Australian Wildfires Area, 2019, NSW, December. Map.

 

To protect houses we need a 100m margin (at least) and to burn 20% of the landscape each year.

New South Wales NPWS fire ecologist, [...]

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 [...]