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 that a whole century of fuel went up to help make that stratospheric pyroconvective fire and deliver some leaves and ash to New Zealand. (Lucky them).

Burned Area Australia, Map, frequency of fires.

Mean annual area burned in Australia, Source Giglio et al 2013

So far this season the fires that gained so much attention around the world have burned around 10 18 million hectares, which is only a fifth 36% of the usual area burnt, though presumably that will increase after satellite data is analyzed and the rest of the fire season plays out.

Pasi Autio points out that ten years ago a researcher showed there was a link between a strong Indian Ocean Dipole and bad forest fires on the other side of Australia in New South Wales. This year the Indian Ocean Dipole was one of the strongest in the last 60 years, so the pattern repeats. Nothing to do with “climate change” and everything to do with natural cycles of drought and rainfall.

In terms of forest fires rather than all fires, from 2011 – 2016 about 20 million hectares still burned each year. About a third of that was planned burns, and two thirds was wildfire. Since this is so much higher than the rotation of planned burns in the national parks of NSW and Victoria that burnt this year, presumably these planned burns were either on private property or in arid zones. The definitions of forest can vary hugely, and in this case also includes vast areas around Kalgoorlie, the Eyre Peninsula, and some “forests” near Bourke and Cunnamulla.

Many thanks to Pasi Autio for collecting together the data and research that no one at the ABC bothered to collect, and no one at any other government institute seemed to issue a press release about. Below, he concludes this season is not outside the bounds of normal by most fire related statistics, though he is not analyzing economic loss, animal deaths, media frenzies or political point scoring. Most of which have been far above normal.

— Jo



Australian bushfire season 2019-2020 – Severity, reasons and conclusions

Guest essay by Pasi Autio  who blogs at   Faktantarkistus Yleinen


  • All-in-all the bushfire season in Australia is not abnormal
  • Consider Australia to be a continent of fire.
  • Most ecosystems in Australia are ecologically adapted to the fire and will even require it
  • The only way to manage the fire hazards in Australia is to manage the fuel loads
  • Natural Indian Ocean Dipole events (and ENSO events) has and will have the effect on droughts in Australia
  • Hazardous volume of fuel loads together with abnormally positive Indian Ocean dipole and the associated drought are the prime reasons for extreme bushfire season in Southeast Australia and especially in New South Wales during this season


The Australian bushfire season of 2019-2020 is now the climate topic of the year – the severe bushfire season has caused more than 2000 houses to burn in the state of New South Wales (NSW) alone. At least 27 people have died and likely over 1 billion mammals, birds and reptiles has been lost (1).

According to wikipedia pages for the 2019-2020 bushfire season (2) 18.9 million hectares of land has been burned as of 14h of January. This sounds severe, but how large is the amount of burned land when comparing to the earlier seasons?

Annual burned area in Australia

There are sources to place this bushfire season in the context like the study by Giglio at al 2013 (3). The paper describes a fourth generation Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED4). This data set combines satellite records like the 500m MODIS burned area maps with active fire data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Visible and Infrared Scanner (VIRS) and the Along-Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) family of sensors. The paper also provides burned area data for Australia and New Zealand (combined) for the years 1997-2011.

Luckily Louis Giglio and his team have continued to work and have created excellent source of all burned area and fire-based emissions datasets. MODIS Collection 6 (C6) MCD64A1 burned area dataset (4) provides satellite-based burned area data for all continents – and also for Australia.

The data and a great analysis tool are available at globalfiredata.org.The dataset provides burned area data for the years 1997-2016. It’s possible to select a continent or country and choose several options for the source data such as emission or burned area data.

Let’s start with burned area data for Australia:


Burned area graph, Australia.

Figure 1: Annual burned area in millions of hectares

Figure 1 shows the total burned area for each year between 1997 and 2016 in millions of hectares. Area burned every year was between 18.2 million hectares (2010) and 94.6 million hectares (2001). On average, the area burned during this time period was 52.9 million hectares. Since there is 769 million hectares of land in Australia, the area burned between 1997 and 2016 was 2.4 – 12.3 % of total land area – every year.

These figures seem very high, so let’s see were the bushfires typically happen. Giglio et al 2013 provides a view to that.

Burned Area Australia, Map, frequency of fires.

Figure 2: Mean annual area burned in Australia, Source Giglio et al 2013

Figure 2 provides Mean annual area burned in Australia, expressed as the fraction of each grid cell that burns each year, derived from the July 1996 – August 2012 monthly GFED4 burned area time series. As we can see the majority of fires are happening within the Australian northern and western territories. But overall, the fires can happen everywhere. There are fewer fires in some desert areas: like the Simpson desert. But if there is sufficient fuel load to burn, the fire seems to be likely at some point.

Thus the area burned so far during the bushfire season 2019-2020 can be placed into a context. The burned area as quoted by several sources (~ 18.9 million hectares) is ~36% of average area burned annually in Australia and exceeds the minimum burned area year in the satellite dataset (year 2010). Thus, it is likely that the quoted area is too low, since the fires in many remote areas are not reported. The real burned area during this season will eventually be available through satellite burned area datasets.

Most of the burned land areas are shrublands, woodlands and open forests. Forests fires happen mostly within eucalyptus forests (Australia’s northern and eastern shore).

The above data provides the details of area being burned in total whether it is forest, non-forest and whether the fire was planned (prescriptive burns) or non-planned. But how about the forests specifically?

Forest fires in Australia

There is another source, which provides a lot of details for forest fires specifically. Australia government’s department of Agriculture provides the “Australia’s State of the Forests Report” for every five year period. The latest one has been published in 2018 (5) and covers years 2011-2016.

This report provides details about forest fires in Australia starting with annual forest fires for seasons 2011-2012 to 2015-2016.


Burned area - prescribed compared to wildfire, graph.

Figure: Annual planned and unplanned area of forest fires in Australia – millions of hectares

Unplanned forest fires burned between 8.9 million hectares (season 2013-2014) and 21.2 million hectares (2012-2013). In addition the area burned due the planned (prescriptive) burns was between 6.2 million hectares (season 2013-2014) and 8.2 million hectares (season 2011-2012).  Also we can see that this data correlates well with the satellite burned area dataset.

Earlier versions of these reports provides similar figures; for example the year 2008 version of this report says that the estimated area of forest burnt in the period from 2001 to 2006 was 24.7 million hectares; an estimated 20.0 million hectares was burnt in unplanned fires and 4.7 million hectares was burnt in planned fires. In average 15.7% of Australian forest land burned every year. According to the latest report, the total area of forest in Australia burnt one or more times during the period 2011–12 to 2015–16 was 55 million hectares (41% of Australia’s total forest area) (5). Some forests had at least one fire per year during five different years between 2011 and 2016. Thus, forest was in fire every year.

That is a lot of forest fires in one country. You would imagine that after these fires there are no forests left in Australia. But there is and according to the report, the area of forest has even increased slightly between 1990 and 2016. Most of the forested ecosystems in Australia are ecologically adapted to fire and even require it for regeneration.

For example – Eucalyptus trees do not just resist fire, they actively encourage it. Eucalyptus leaves don’t decompose and are highly flammable. Some species for these trees hold their seeds inside small capsules. Fire triggers massive drop of seeds to the ground cleaned by the forest fire (6). Due to the flammable materials generated by Eucalyptus trees, the forest fire in Eucalyptus forest is inevitable sooner or later. Sooner it happens, more controlled the fire is and less harm it will generate to the trees and animals. Avoiding fires too long is clearly not a good idea. Due to this there are a lot of planned (prescriptive burns) in Australia. Prescriptive burns are the only way of managing the volume of burnable biomass in Australian forests.

In summary, the Australian bushfire season 2019-2020 overall – despite of all the harm it has caused to lives – both for humans and animals – has not been exceptional on country level. It has not been one of the worst seasons in any metric e.g. not with the area of burned land or burned forests. But there is something special happening in New South Wales in particular.

Fires in New South Wales

Almost all the publicity regarding the 2019-2020 bushfire season in Australia has been related to the fires in New South Wales. And indeed, according to the MODIS fire count data from globalfiredata.org there is something extraordinary going in in Southeast Australia – especially in New South Wales, where the number of fires detected is about four times higher than previous records.


Fire Counts, Australia, MODIS, NSW, Vic, Qld.

Figure: Eastern Australia fire counts (7)  http://globalfiredata.org/pages/

Why the fires are so intense especially in New South Wales?

Positive Indian Ocean Dipole event

Incidentally there is an exceptional natural event going on. An exceptionally positive Indian Ocean Dipole (8) is currently ongoing (9) and has caused severe weather not only in Australia, but in Africa too (10). The event among the strongest in 60 years (12).

Why is this relevant to the extreme fires in South-East Australia? According to the study Cai et al 2009 (11) there is a systematic linkage between positive Indian Dipole events and severe fires in Southeast Australia. Almost half of most severe fires have occurred during pIOD.

Some of the studies have tried to link pIOD to the Climate Change, but so far the climate model’s ability to predict the pIOD has been less than optimal (13).

Lack of sufficient prescribed burning

According to studies, the hazardous level of fuel loads can be reached within 2 to 4 years from the low intensity prescribed burning in South East Australia (14). But the prescribed burning practices are not popular among locals. The smoke from the hazard reduction burns is a nuisance and health issue itself (15).

New South Wales has about 20 million hectares of forests and the current level of prescribed burning is ~ 200000 hectares annually. This level of prescribed burning will do little to reduce the risks of catastrophic bushfires.

But one thing is sure: the debate about the right level of prescribed burning will continue (16).


Further reading

Australia’s state of forests report 1998 provides a lot of good background information about the forests and forest fires in Australia in the past.



  1. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/07/record-breaking-49m-hectares-of-land-burned-in-nsw-this-bushfire-season
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%9320_Australian_bushfire_season
  3. Giglio, L., J. T. Randerson, and G. R. van der Werf (2013), Analysis of daily, monthly, and annual burned area using thefourth-generation global fire emissions database (GFED4),J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci.,118, 317–328, doi:10.1002/jgrg.20042.
  4. Giglio, L., Boschetti, L., Roy, D.P., Humber, M.L., Justice, C.O., 2018. The collection 6 MODIS burned area mapping algorithm and product. Remote Sens. Environ. 217,72–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2018.08.005.
  5. Australia’s State of the Forests Report 2018; https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/forestsaustralia/sofr
  6. https://wildfiretoday.com/2014/03/03/eucalyptus-and-fire/
  7. 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season; image credit globalfiredata.org; image and all other images used with https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
  8. http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/iod/
  9. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-16/positive-indian-ocean-dipole-bad-news-for-drought-crippled-areas/11120566
  10. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50602971
  11. Cai, W., Cowan, T., & Raupach, M. (2009). Positive Indian Ocean dipole events precondition southeast Australia bushfires. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L19710. https://doi.org/10.1029/2009GL039902
  12. https://www.severe-weather.eu/news/unusually-strong-indian-ocean-dipole-australia-europe-fa/
  13. Cai, W., and T. Cowan, 2013: Why is the amplitude of the Indian Ocean dipole overly large in CMIP3 and CMIP5 climate models? Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 1200–1205, https://doi.org/10.1002/grl.5020
  14. Morrison et al 1996, Conservation conflicts over burning bush in south-eastern Australiahttps://doi.org/10.1016/0006-3207(95)00098-4
  15. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-08/nsw-fires-rfs-commissioner-weights-in-on-hazard-reduction-debate/11850862
  16. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-20/hazard-reduction-burns-bushfires/11817336


9.1 out of 10 based on 57 ratings

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

  • #

    On another note, when will conservative politicians learn not to go on the ABC? How many ambush setups do we need to see for them to blacklist Q&A?


    • #

      Or better yet, when not to fund the opposing party’s advertising?


      • #

        Jo, have to say . . . . I’m amused . . . . having been reprimanded, for posting off topic, too soon in a thread, but further away than post no. 1.

        Maybe the ABC programming last night could have been a better choice as a subject for today?


        • #

          Perhaps I should have phrased it differently? The ABC Science unit could have done this same research that Pasi did and informed Australians. Yet again, “useless” — but always useless in a way that helps the Labor Party, unless they can help the Greens.

          [But OK, fair point Joseph. Message received. 🙂 – Jo]


    • #
      Bill In Oz

      I did not watch it.
      Why is the government’s ministers & mp’s
      Going on it ?
      Waste of time & energy !


  • #
    The Depraved and MOST Deplorable Vlad the Impaler

    I do no think that the area burned is a typo, but “Quest Essay” should probably read, “Guest Essay.”

    Just a guess on my part … … … … …

    [I keep my proof readers busy. Thanks Vlad. Note to self, try posting in daytime. – jo]


  • #
    Mike Jonas

    There was extended coverage of the bushfire situation on ABC TV last night. The stories were – rightly – heartrending. The firies were amazing. The footage was dramatic, awesome.

    But as it went on and on it became obvious that there was no useful information. No map. No overall summary. No history. No analysis. No discussion. And yet again I ended up despairing of the ABC and looking for other sources of information.

    Unfortunately, this is not unusual. I nearly always end up despairing of the ABC no matter what the issue is. For example: The new coronavirus has infected 17,000 people over 2-3 months. SARS infected 8,000 people over 8 months. But the death rate from SARS was 9% while the death rate from this new one is so far “only” about 2%. It would be very useful to see analyses of the data, and comparisons of the actions taken to deal with the events, and what lessons had been learned and applied. It would be useful to know how fast and effective vaccines and other responses had been before, and how well they are doing now. It would be useful to know what ended the spread of SARS (also a coronavirus) and how the new one’s spread is shaping up. But none of this is ever provided by the ABC – or if it is then I had long ago given up waiting for it and turned away in disgust. Or maybe fury would be a better word.

    Ita Buttrose, we had great hopes when you joined the ABC. So far, it appears that you have achieved nothing. Absolute zero. We want a useful news organisation. Instead, we get an endless stream of fear-mongering, inanity, predetermined narrative, and blatant bias. The best single word for it is propaganda. It’s just not good enough. Please, make the ABC functional again, or get out and let someone else do the job.


    • #

      The death rate from coronavirus is not just 2%. This is an artifact of creative accounting. On any given day check the figures of cases confirmed and death rate, calculate the percentage and yes you will come up with slightly over 2%. But this ignores the fact that most of those who have contracted the virus still have it and are yet to either die from it or recover. If you look at sunday’s figures, there were about 17,000 infected (official figures) and just 475 recoveries. Equally on any given day if you compare the deaths with the recoveries you get a death rate of about 40%. This also ignores the fact that most of the infected are yet to recover or yet to die.

      I would suggest that the Lancet study, while it only followed 41 patients did so from infection to recovery or death, is by far the most reliable guide. That study found a death rate of 12%.

      All that aside, I have a friend who does business in China, has many Chinese friends and tells me that he is receiving reports of death rates as high as 30% in some hospitals.

      Don’t kid yourself, the CCP lies as a matter of course, WHO (WHO?) has the reliability equivalent to the amount of rocking horse SH*t found in an empty toy store.


  • #

    NZ is now very dry and fire bans are now nation-wide.
    We’re entering (or have entered) our fire season.


    • #

      Blame Prime Minister Morrison, why not, he is apparently not doing enough about the beat up climate emergency.

      So the NZ PM claims.



      • #

        We do get some of our weather from Australia but not all of it. The bits which sneak around the Southern edge and through Bass Strait form the majority of it. So I’ll run with it being more like the IOD rather than P.M.M.

        IOD = Indian Ocean Dipole
        P.M.M = Prime Minister Morrison.

        I have this little problem: I cannot and do not believe in Witchcraft, unlike Cathy Castor (the Head Witch in America — she’s trying to bring back the Salem Witchcraft beliefs. They were 400 years ago and she is trying to drag us back 400 years).


    • #

      NZ is now very dry and fire bans are now nation-wide.
      We’re entering (or have entered) our fire season.

      Ahh ! Yes , just on the news..
      People being rescued in NZ …from serious FLOODING ! 🙂


    • #
      Bill In Oz

      Your climate has CHANGED
      Again !
      Twice already this year !
      And it’s only February !
      Wow !
      ( Sarc off now ! )


  • #
    Kalm Keith

    Sadly we live in the real world.

    In colder environments it’s seen as acceptable to dynamite accumulations of snow so that people can live in an area without fear of being engulfed in an avalanche.

    Here in Australia, if we are going to live almost anywhere on the continent, the rule is “clear a firebreak”.

    Even without human habitation here, Australia will burn on a regular basis and that’s a fact, so anyone complaining about one weeks inconvenience from a local preemptive burn is just being difficult.

    The latest conflagration has given a record breaking three months of smoke and aerial debris that makes regular local cool burns almost insignificant in comparison.

    Money, fire and politics are a bad mix.



    • #

      “Here in Australia, if we are going to live almost anywhere on the continent, the rule is “clear a firebreak”. ”

      Yes KK Simple, effective, cheap. However the call of course is for “stricter building codes” if people want to live in, near the bush. This is complicated, expensive, onerous, and allows a whole new level of government involvement.
      Guess which way we will go.


      • #

        Stricter building codes = make it so expensive people in effect get driven out = UN Rewilding policy in action…


      • #

        London came up with building codes back in 1667 which saved the city from a lot of damage in the WW2 Blitz. Stone doesn’t burn all that well. If those codes are added to or mixed with the KK’s `firebreak’ …


        • #

          I enjoy the ‘shardlake’ series of books by c j Sampson set in England from the time of the dissolution of the monasteries around 1538 and coincidentally other books from slightly earlier and the burning down of buildings and their subsequent reerection seemed to be the norm and fully accepted, although the gentry and larger towns would have a rudimentary fire brigade.

          As you observe it was the great fire of London caused by one of the hottest and driest summers for decades that was the impetus to re build in stone.

          Channel 4 has been airing a one hour documentary on the oz fires just this evening. It is striking how many of the burnt buildings seem to be fairly light weight in construction with tin roofs. Much of the action centred on kangaroo island where there seemed to be huge areas of very densely planted rows of tall trees without fire breaks where the trunks are intact and the leaves incinerated

          Let’s hope the rest of the fire season is not as active as the first part and there is a proper unbiased investigation as to how and why it happened although judging by the talking heads on tv tonight the blame has already been apportioned very firmly to climate change and lack of action by your govt to combat it.


    • #
      Robert Swan

      I confess. I criticise the burn-offs. I wouldn’t if they gave notice of their plans. People with dodgy breathing would be able to schedule some time away. Others could put-off that paint job or whatever that might be compromised by smuts, etc. But we’ve found out about all the recent planned burn-offs in western Sydney by the smoke rolling in.

      Is there any good reason for the RFS to treat a planned burn as some sort of covert operation?


      • #
        Bill In Oz

        If you criticise the burn offs
        YOU are part of the problem
        Cool burns
        Fuel Reduction burns,
        Are part of the annual cycle of the Australian bush.
        When Greenist governments stop them happening
        People & wildlife, and livestock burn & die !
        Homes burn as well.
        Get the Greenist academic experts out of the Bush
        let the bush be looked after by Bush people who know and understand it.
        Send the experts back to their green cafe late loving ghettos !


      • #

        The RFS ususally tell people they are burning off.

        Maybe also its the greenies who try and stop it, so perhaps better to keep it low key to stop the professional whingers from causing grief….


        • #
          Robert Swan

          Yes, I think that’s probably it, but it’s self-defeating. The professional whingers will still complain — what else would you expect — but it adds legitimate complaints about having to take Granddad off to hospital for oxygen, etc., etc.

          Publish on a statewide website similar to the one they now have showing active fires, but showing planned burn-offs over the next 4 weeks or so and I’d be satisfied. Maybe such a thing already exists and just needs to be publicised.


      • #
        Kalm Keith

        Hi Robert, good points however the alternative to No controlled burns is the massive smoke fest we’ve had for the last few months.
        That has been almost unbelievable and entirely avoidable.


      • #


        Firstly, all such burns are required to go through a planning process. There is nothing “covert” about it.

        Secondly, if your head is not in the sand, you will not require someone to tell you that burning will happen. It happens (or should happen) when the seasons and the weather are appropriate. You should no more need to be informed of this, than you need to be informed that bushfires are likely. Try putting your head out the window and actually looking at the weather.


        • #
          Robert Swan

          I suppose there’s a silver lining in your approach of “work it out for yourself”. They might do planned burn offs any time from, say, early April to late August. And there might be unplanned bushfires any time from September to March. So I get a pretty good, nearly year-round excuse not to paint the deck: sorry — might be spoiled by soot and cinders.

          Oddly enough I’d prefer to get the job over with with a quick check on a website.


      • #

        Robert, I imagine that prescribed burns either go ahead or not depending on the weather, so the only option would be for them to announce a possible burn, subject to conditions which they may cancel at short notice.


        • #

          You are spot on Jo. The burn may be planned but does not get it’s final approval until the day of ignition, for the reasons that you have stated.


        • #
          Shadow Banned

          All approved burns are on the RFS website. Anyone can check there


          • #

            Many were not carried out.

            The data , which has been listed many times, shows that.

            Huge build-up from “lock-up and neglect” greenie agendas.

            Stop trying to DENY this fact.


  • #
    el gordo

    Propaganda from our ABC is blatant, they have no shame and the organisation must be dismantled after we get the truth out of them.

    ‘The bushfires of the future are already here. They burn earlier in the season, and more ferociously, and can interact with extreme weather events to create fires we don’t know how to fight.

    ‘This year, the bushfire season began with the worst September in recorded history, with 55 homes destroyed.’


    • #
      Peter C

      the organisation must be dismantled after we get the truth out of them.

      Yes, but how?


      • #

        ABC employees know that while they pander to and support the Union Labor & Greens they are safe and secure, no change to the ABC Act of Parliament possible, ABC Charter unenforceable despite it requiring ABC to be bipartisan.


        • #

          The only way would be for a Liberal-National Coalition government with control of the Legislative Assembly and the Senate.

          Even with like minded minor parties.


          • #

            Good..let it come…start at the top and sack from the chairman down until they get to the plebs.

            Then put in people who are actually a lot less partisan….


        • #
          Bill In Oz

          The solution is simple !
          Ignore it !
          It will wither & die
          Or realise it must change to win back the hearts of the Australian people.


      • #
        el gordo

        There is a battle going on between the Murdocracy and Aunty, each presenting a different reality. This is unsustainable and eventually something has to give.

        Chris Kenny (Sky) was brilliant last night (even gave a h/t to Jo) and the message is slowly getting out to conservatives in the regions. The latest Ipsos survey, even though biased, shows more conservative voters are slowly shaking off the ABC propaganda.

        If David Speers and Ita Buttrose do nothing to purge the newsroom of Trots, then we are in for a long hard battle for the hearts and minds of the masses. Victory will eventually come our way, then we can dismantle.


      • #
        Bill In Oz

        Institute penalties for NOT adhering to the ABC’s charter
        That it serve all Australians with unbiased news and broad range of opinions. !
        Being arrested and jailed might make the ABC’s executives & board members
        Think carefully about letting the ABC be a propaganda outlet.


    • #

      I read that the ABC Q&A audience last night was again hand picked and weighted against the conservative Senator Jim Molan, maybe some were the ferals from Cobargo NSW who heckled Prime Minister Morrison when he visited?

      The Cobargo Hotel proprietor and others from the town said the ferals abuse embarrassed the local people and pointed out that the ferals were not local people from the town.

      And of course Q&A conveniently ignored that State Emergency Services including Rural Fire Service are responsible for fire control, Premiers not Prime Minister. And also responsible for State Forests and State National Parks & Wildlife management.


      • #
        Evidence Please

        Loved his jaw dropping lines ” I’m not relying on evidence ” and ” keeping an open mind ” to which Mann responded ” …but not so open that your brain falls out “.
        Who needs scientists anymore ?.


        • #

          “but not so open that your brain falls out “.

          Your mind is totally closed..

          Nothing can get in or out, there is nothing there.

          You have NO EVIDENCE that human CO2 causes any warming

          Produce it if you have.

          Or remain an EVIDENCE-FREE, drone.


    • #
      Steve of Cornubia

      The problem isn’t confined to the ABC – they are just the most obvious part of a much larger problem. That is the politicisation of the public service, which grows, spread and gets stronger every day. I worked in the public service myself, for a number of years, and I experienced how challenging it can be for any staff member who either doesn’t support the leftist agenda or, even worse, ‘comes out’ as a conservative.

      But then, even that isn’t the root problem. The real problem IMO is the imbalance of power in every part of society where the Left meets the Right. The Left is well-organised, well funded (thanks to George et al), highly motivated and much more engaged politically than the Right. This comes about through the basic nature, generally speaking, of folks in each camp. Those who identify as ‘Leftists’ tend to see themselves as part of a collective, gang or tribe and this empowers them as well as motivates them. Those on the Right however, are much more likely to see themselves as individuals, with individual rights and responsibilities. Clearly, that makes it much, MUCH harder to get conservatives to take collective action, thus weakening the Right in just about every situation except that which allows individuals to come together informally, i.e. at election time.

      The thing that worries me, as I approach my final couple of decades, is that the Left will keep pushing and showing intolerance until things get so bad, really big numbers of conservatives will say enough is enough and push back in a meaningful way. By then, it might be that ‘pushing back’ will take a lot more that de-funding the ABC.


  • #
    Peter Fitzroy

    Now it is the IOD, replacing the non appearing El Niño. Meanwhile CO2 waits patiently for it’s turn.


    • #
      Peter Fitzroy

      8 is the average, 12 is expected


    • #

      Many not far from CO2 starvation plants are patiently waiting for more.


    • #
      el gordo

      IOD and SAM are both in neutral, a Modoki El Nino might be expected this year, but there is some uncertainty.

      The blocking high in the Tasman is the main cause of this bushfire season, that is apart from fuel loads and arson.


    • #

      ” CO2 waits patiently for it’s turn.” Not from the ABC that has it left, right, centre, above and below or anywhere else they can find a place to put it.


    • #

      Still on the edge of El Nino.

      Sorry you don’t have the ability to comprehend the effect of the IOD, in causing NATURAL drought conditions.

      Sorry you don’t comprehend that the lock-up and neglect policy of the greenies was always going to lead to massively increased fuel loads.

      Basic comprehension is one of your many NON-talents.

      And of course….

      You have no evidence of any climate related effect from human released CO2.


  • #
    George McFly......I'm your density

    Another great article Jo.


    • #
      Bill In Oz

      Yes Jo, A great post !
      Thank you !
      I see that you have put this post up on Facebook as well.
      And that is great.

      I have one criticism of the article. There is this statement :
      “But the prescribed burning practices are not popular among locals. The smoke from the hazard reduction burns is a nuisance and health issue itself”
      Ummmm ? Most locals in the bush know how important it is to do fuel reduction burns in the cool seasons
      To avoid bush fires in hot weather.
      I’ve done them myself in my years of organic farming.
      But there are now the ‘Tree change” mob, recent blow-ins,
      Now living in the bush, many of whom have no knowledge or understanding of how the bush’s ecology works.
      Lots of these people are horrified when they see smoke in Winter !
      And do complain.
      But they are not bush folk.
      Maybe after a few years, they learn, & change their views.
      But many do not
      Urban dumbnuts blown into the bush
      Waiting to be burned out by the next big fire !
      Bugger !


      • #
        Geoff Sherrington

        Bill in Oz,
        My cognitive dissonance automatically downgrades any author who favours or conductscirganic gardening/farming.
        How can you criticise the sham aspects of global warming when you engage in the sham if organic gardening? I apologise and retract if you have since seen the sham and given up organic gardening.
        Now, how about the shams of multivitamins, fish oil extracts, seaweed-based farming additives, anti-oxidant diets, acupuncture, homeopathy, lead poisoning, etc, shams that permeate our lives and often offend with relentless paid advertising, without which they would fail? Or the latest, wearing flimsy masks to fight novel coronavirus, when even Blind Freddy knows that these masks cannot stop virus transmission?
        Geoff S


      • #
        Sceptical Sam

        Down here on the South Coast of NSW where I am at the moment, I was talking to one of the firies who told me of an experience his brigade had in the bush recently. They were going in to do a back-burn in some very rough country only to be confronted by a hairy, smelly, greeny telling them to “go away” (actually he wasn’t that polite, but you get the drift).

        The greeny was a well known peddler of dope which he grew in the wild country the firies were about to burn.

        There are more motivations for resisting cool-burns than nobly looking out for the protection of species.


        • #

          The greenie was obviously acting to protect the fragile enclave of very local cannabis species that are more normally found further up the coast.


      • #
        Bill In Oz

        Geoff, I remain a committed organic gardener
        having retired from farming at age 69 !
        And now a question for you Geoff :
        The issue is non existent Global Warming !
        What’s the point of loading up this discussion with other stuff ?
        Do you merely want your own “Pure and Holy” on YOUR side
        Fighting against this nonsense ?
        If you do, I can assure you,
        Your pure & holy side faces defeat & ruin
        Along with everything else in our nation.


  • #
    robert rosicka

    If the radical left MSM and scientists included all the facts in all their reporting there would be no newspapers sold and no grants given for boondoggle research .
    By telling half a story or giving half a report to make something seem worse or “unprecedented ” it’s no better than trying to deceive for financial gain .


    • #
      Bill In Oz

      Only the bleeding
      Leads !
      This includes anything that can be ‘adjusted’
      to make it bleed !
      “Journalism for Dumbnuts”
      The Basic text at all university journalism units.


  • #

    November is LATE in the Northern NSW fire season, which starts in August.

    Is it too hard to highlight these simple facts? Yes. Yes it is. The propaganda is about to get intense…but the propaganda will not necessarily be green in origin.

    Anything and everything is going to be thrown at coal by its competitors. With downward pressure on oil and gas and a huge gas glut coming into mild season months, Marcellus shale, the East Med gas finds, Chinese manufacturing down, Nordstream 2 getting hooked up, the last thing Big Oil needs is competition. Russia will be secretly happy that its ally Iran is blocked from a lot of markets…and nobody wants to hear about a premium energy source which can be scooped up cheaply from the dirt of Eastern Australia.

    Coca-Cola hates Pepsi-Cola. Big Oil hates coal. The refuse media does not work for the planet thingy. It works for major financial interests, and right now those interests are wanting lots of renewable white elephants requiring supplementation with lots of oil and gas.

    An irrational connection is being made between bushfires and coal power, but by constant repetition and conditioning the irrational can be made rational. They don’t say coal caused cold water to form somewhere in the Indian Ocean and that caused dry weather somewhere else. They show you vision of fires…and then show you a picture of a power station with digitally darkened steam against a red sky. Till you get the message.

    Fight for our birthright. Fight for coal.

    And turn off their refuse media. Don’t be shocked by what was said on Q&A. Do not know and do not inquire what was said on Q&A. Dismiss their refuse media.


  • #

    well, ABC’s Media Watch was entirely on the “climate deniers” aka Murdoch media. crazy stuff. read the entire transcript:

    VIDEO: 15m33s: 3 Feb: ABC MediaWatch: News Corp’s fire fight
    A Media Watch feature on the bushfire crisis.
    We examine how News Corp’s loudest voices denied or downplayed the role of climate change.
    More information:
    Read the response from News Corp Australia here.
    Read a statement from the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) here.
    Read a statement from the Australian Academy of Science here.

    ROWAN DEAN: Unprecedented bushfires? Unprecedented drought? No, this Australian summer has been the summer of unprecedented stupidity. Never before have we had to suffer such idiocy in public debate and political commentary, nationally and internationally, in relation to two of the most common and predictable occurrences in Australia’s climate cycle, drought and bushfires.
    – Outsiders, Sky News, 26 January, 2020

    Hello, I’m Paul Barry, welcome to Media Watch…

    There’s no doubt that climate change activists across the world think the fires should be a tipping point.
    And many Australians agree, with 72 per cent of respondents to an Australia Institute poll last month saying the fires should be a wake-up call to the world.
    January’s IPSOS Monitor also shows a huge spike in concern over the environment, with it showing as the most important issue for the first time ever.

    Add to that, last week, climate protests in Sydney by a couple of hundred so-called Quiet Australians.
    And more than twice that number of people lying outside News Corp, with banners saying, News Corp lies all the time so it’s OK for us to lie here…


    • #
      robert rosicka

      He did not disprove one thing Rowen said he just went on a socialist left rant .


      • #
        Evidence Please

        Why are facts intrinsically socialist ?.


        • #

          Why can’t you produce any evidence of anything?

          Change your moniker to Evidence Free

          Paul Barry is generally a FACT FREE ZONE..

          Fantasy facts from a far leftoid drone..

          Most Australians KNOW that the intensity of the fires was because of NATURAL drought,

          .. and a greenie agenda enforced build-up of fuel load.


  • #

    no video or transcript yet at Q&A, but there’s an audio with an intro that mentions carbon emissions, climate change etc:

    AUDIO: 1h5m40s: 3 Feb: ABC Q&A: Bushfires Special

    the questions are not loaded!

    3 Feb: Q+A Bushfires Special
    Discuss the Questions
    Milena Cifali asked: We lost our home in Mallacoota on NYE and we’ve been effectively homeless since then. We’re musicians and have lost all our instruments and also our beloved pets…
    The bushfires have destroyed more than two thousand homes, twenty-five people have been killed in New South Wales alone and ***2 billion wildlife decimated…

    Serena Claringbold submitted a video question…In light of my experiences, my question to the panel is: Is this what young people, and the whole community, need to prepare for as the new normal?…

    Sam Wagstaff asked: In recent months we’ve seen and felt and breathed extremes in fire, smoke, heat, hail, dust and drought – all right here or just down the road. If this is the new normal, do you think my 2 year-old son and 9-month-old daughter can still share the same healthy, carefree childhood that I had?…

    nothing of scientific note in the hundreds of comments I scanned below; more the usual confirmation the ABC audience is just a tad partisan. poor Molan, the only panellist with firefighting experience!

    Facebook: Q+A – February 3 2020
    Sally Wise: Welcome back to the best on TV ! Hamish you are perfection !
    Karen McKenzie: OMG if Jim Molan is the best the government can put forward for the Q & A panel then god help us
    Belinda Scanlon: Andrew Constance you are way too good for the Liberal Party
    David Fredericks: The majority of this panel speaks with compassion and commonsense … And then you have that dinosaur Molan
    Heather Hockings: Please do not invite Jim Molan on to the Q&A panel again. He is a joke.
    Lisa Bell: Andrew Constance is our version of Jacinda Ardern. Compassionate and real. Perfect Prime minister material.
    Glenn McLeod: Looking at the audience tonight, never have I seen a group of people so traumatised by these fires!


  • #

    Grew up in Darwin throughout PS and early HS well before it blew away and fire was a constant companion in the 6 month dry season. Darwin is surrounded by typical northern savannah woodland As you can imagine grasses and understory grow well in the wet season but come the dry those woodlands are burning regularly everywhere if not by lightning strike and the odd schoolkid then by the high aboriginal population. They’re accompanied by the many hawks and kites wheeling overhead feasting on the fauna escaping the slow fire fronts.

    But here’s the rub. They’re simply not a threat to property and human life as the fires don’t crown but continually burn the understory every dry season. Not hard to see that everywhere with the blackened trunks of the eucalypts in those woodlands. There is one difference with the SE eucalypt forests we’ve seen burn now. Savannah means flat but if you have steep valleys and gullies you’d best make sure the understory fuel load doesn’t build up to allow fire progressing up slopes to ignite the crown with all its eucalyptus oil or you’re in big trouble being anywhere near it. Mind you there’s lots of that undertaken now in the SE and it’s probably a good idea to maintain it like those savannah woodlands going forward.


  • #

    ABC listeners weren’t forgotten last nite either.
    there was this masterpiece from BBC – no audio – see second links below:

    3 Feb: ABC World Docos: Ecological Anxiety & The Race to go Carbon Neutral
    As the Earth experiences more extreme weather, and wildlife is suffering, more people are experiencing ecological anxiety. Science journalist ***Gaia Vince has been reporting on the growing crisis across our planet’s ecosystems, and has met many who are shocked and saddened by the enormity of the environmental changes taking place. She talks to scientists and medics working at the frontline of environmental change, and hears more about this new mindset…

    AUDIO: 26m29s: 20 Jan: BBC Discovery: Ecological Grief
    As the Earth experiences more extreme weather, and wildlife is dying, from corals, to insects, to tropical forests, more people are experiencing ecological anxiety and grief. Science journalist ***Gaia Vince has been reporting on the growing crisis across our planet’s ecosystems, and has met many who are shocked and saddened by the enormity of the environmental changes taking place. She talks to scientists and medics working at the frontline of environmental change, and hears that, despite being expected to distance themselves from what’s happening, they are affected emotionally…

    Ashlee Consulo, of Memorial University on the Canadian island of Labrador, and Courtney Howard, a doctor in Yellowknife, tell Gaia about their experiences of living and working with indigenous peoples in areas where temperatures are rising rapidly and the ice is melting…
    Steve Simpson of Exeter University and Andy Radford of Bristol University are both professors of biology who have watched coral reefs become devastated by climate change. Recently they wrote a letter to the journal Science headlined Grieving environmental scientists need support to raise awareness of the issues researchers are facing.
    And Gaia visits the aquarium at the Horniman Museum in London, where Jamie Craggs is trying to breed corals for future generations.

    Wikipedia: ***Gaia Vince is a freelance British environmental journalist, broadcaster and non-fiction author with British and Australian citizenship. She writes for The Guardian, and, in a column called Smart Planet, for BBC Online. She was previously news editor of Nature and online editor of New Scientist…


    • #

      the second half of ABC’s Big Ideas program last nite was this BBC piece:

      AUDIO: 26m29s: 23 Jan: BBC Assignment: Finland’s race to go carbon neutral
      How do you achieve net-zero carbon emissions in just fifteen years? In Finland, a fisherman-turned-climate scientist believes he has part of the answer: re-wilding the country’s peat fields. Gabriel Gatehouse travels to the country’s frozen north to meet Tero Mustonen, as he battles lobbyists and vested interests in government and the peat industry, in a race to mitigate the consequences of climate change…


      22 Jan: BBC: Carbon-neutral in 15 years? The country with an ambitious plan
      Finland’s ‘climate election’
      By Gabriel Gatehouse
      Climate election
      Finland’s general election of April 2019 was dominated by the issue of climate change – thanks, in part, to Tero’s work as a climate scientist…
      In Finland, as elsewhere, climate has become a battleground in a broader culture war that has engulfed many Western democracies…

      In his log house on the edge of the forest, Tero is working on the next report to the IPCC, which will shape the way governments around the world respond to the challenges of climate change in the coming years.
      He’s careful to emphasise that he doesn’t speak on behalf of the UN body, but he says the climate crisis is more urgent than even most reports in the press suggest…

      “I think it’s far worse than what we have been discussing in the media. Once we get into the 2030s, 2040s, there will be impacts to the global security and global governance which will be extremely hard to control.
      “I would give it eight-to-10 years when we really, really, truly have to do at least two things: one, the emission cuts and secondly, the land use. We will not be able to stop human-induced climate change any more. There will be impacts.”
      Tero says it is now a question of mitigation rather than prevention.

      Then he says something that I’ve rarely heard from a scientist.
      Now is not the time for more study, experiments or peer-reviewed papers, he explains. Now is the time for action.
      “What more evidence do we need? The planet is truly shifting. I don’t think we need more science or data as such. We have all the data. We have the technologies. We can disagree on other things, but let us be united on this.”…

      Uni of Eastern Finland: Docent Tero Mustonen among Lead Authors of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report
      Docent Tero Mustonen, PhD, from the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies of the University of Eastern Finland, has been appointed as the Lead Author of a chapter in the upcoming Sixth Assessment Report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. Mustonen is responsible for a chapter on Europe in the Working Group II that focuses on adaptation, impact and vulnerability in the context of climate change…ETC


  • #

    Morning Jo,
    This Peter Hannam article has a reasonable depiction of the damage done in NSW, but manages to completely ignore some words which I consider to be much more significant in planning for reduction of adverse effects in the future. Words like “fire intensity”, and it’s major causal component “fuel load”, and never of course the way fire bombs have been created by the mis-management of those fuel loads in “National Parks”.
    Nor did he notice that the really big fires ran in a line from the Queensland border of NSW down to, and beyond, the Victorian border. Or that the only significant gap in that fire line was the Hunter Valley, which, interestingly, has no National Park straddling the New England Highway’s crossing of the Great Divide just north of Murrurundi. Sort of different from what’s true of both roads from Lithgow to Sydney.


    Dave B


  • #
    Travis T. Jones

    “All-in-all the bushfire season in Australia is not abnormal”

    What was unusual and unpredicted was the floods of 2019 …

    “But the 2019 monsoon was one of the biggest and most unusual on record and if the cattle survived the raging torrents, they died from a cold snap that coincided with the rain.”

    The BoM predicting cold snaps in the UN hottest year. Ever.
    I’d like to see that …

    “She said the freak event left many wanting authorities to issue early alerts if cold weather was coming so they could stock up on fodder and supplements to keep cattle strong.”



  • #
    Geoff Sherrington

    Like most climate research, there are too many variables lacking good data for analysis of bushfires in Australia. This work by Pass Autio is great, fills in some gaps. He leaves some stones unturned, like ignition sources and the explanation of the anomalous fire rate increase in NSW.
    One other variable not often mentioned is termites. In my first visits to the Top End of the Northern Territory, 1960-70 era, I noted steel not timber for telegraph and power poles. Then the absence of a timber industry, despite plenty of rain and available land. Termites could well be a prime reason for different forest types in the Top End versus East Victoria and for different fire turnover rates and burn intensities. I am not proposing action to control termite eating habits, just noting they are yet another reasonably uncontrolled variable in the fire story. Geoff S


    • #
      Bill In Oz

      Termite nests are near universal in Australia
      Except deserts !
      Certainly they are common in the forests of east Gippsland !
      Best get your self informed Geoff !
      From the locals of course !


  • #

    O/Topic – no prize for guessing which ‘deserving’ contender has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize again (I didn’t realise there’d been one previously):


    Yes, she has done so much to promote reasonable discussion and promote peace…


  • #

    2 Feb: UK Sun: CHILL IN THE AIR Earth about to enter 30-YEAR ‘Mini Ice Age’ with -50C temperatures in coldest regions, scientists warn
    by Harry Pettit
    According to Nasa, the Sun will reach its lowest activity in over 200 years in 2020…
    “The Sun is approaching a hibernation period,” Professor Zharkova, who has published multiple scientific papers on solar minimums, told The Sun.
    “Less sunspots will be formed on the solar surface and thus less energy and radiation will be emitted towards the planets and the Earth.”

    Solar minimums are part of the Sun’s natural life cycle and occur once every 11 years. However, 2020’s minimum promises to be an especially chilly one.
    That’s because it marks the start of a rare event known as a Grand Solar Minimum, in which energy emitted from the Sun drops even more than usual…

    Nasa readings of solar activity suggest our planet could find itself in the grips of a similar freeze by 2025…
    Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom – other experts believe that Grand Solar Minimums have little effect on our climate…

    It’s unlikely, therefore, that the upcoming GSM will have any impact on global temperatures, solar scientist ***Mathew Owens told The Sun.
    “The small reduction in the Sun’s energy associated with a solar minimum is vastly offset by effects caused by human activity, such as CO2 in the atmosphere,” Professor Owens, of Reading University, said.
    “Thus there will probably be no detectable effect on global climate.”

    Wikipedia: ***Mathew Owens: His research has often been cited in the national and international press, including the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent, New Scientist, Scientific American, and IFLScience…

    3 Feb: UK Mirror: ‘Mini Ice Age’ warnings for next 30 years with -50C temperatures in coldest areas
    Scientist Valentina Zharkova claims the Sun’s forthcoming ‘hibernation’ will be the worst for 400 years and has already caused -50C temperatures
    by Ryan Merrifield

    3 Feb: NewsStatesmanUK: UK newspapers promote the favourite myth of climate change deniers
    The “mini ice age” fantasy gives sceptics another 30 years to ignore humanity’s biggest problem.
    by Media Mole
    Two of the UK’s most popular commercial news websites announced this morning that the Earth is likely to experience 30 years of “frosty weather and biting snow storms”, rather than the exponential rise in temperatures both observed and predicted by scientists.

    The websites of the Sun, the Mirror, the Express and the Daily Star all reported that Valentina Zharkova, of Northumbria University’s department of physics and electrical engineering, predicted a global drop in temperatures due to a decline in solar activity. This will come as a relief to readers concerned by the vast areas of Australia, the Amazon rainforest, Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada that are or have recently been on fire.

    The idea that a “Grand Solar Minimum” could lead to a future of guilt-free flying, year-round cocoa and snowboarding to work is a favourite thesis of the climate change denial community, and this is not the first time Zharkova’s work has been deployed in support of it…

    The Mirror’s story was the second most popular item on Apple News, which is installed on 14 million of the UK’s iPhones…


    • #

      Weather warning: Earth could be hit by MINI ICE-AGE as Sun’hibernates’
      Express.co.uk – 12 hours ago
      Zharkova: “The reduction in temperature will result in cold weathers on Earth, wet and cold summers, cold and wet winters.”
      “We will possibly get big frosts as is happening now in Canada where they see [temperatures] of -50C…
      “But this is only the start of GSM, there is more to come in the next 33 years.”
      The last GSM, which comes around roughly every 400 years, came in the 17th century…

      Earth Might Witness ‘Mini Ice Age’ For Next 30 Years, As The Sun about to hit its “Solar Minimum”
      India Times – 2 Feb 2020

      ‘Mini ice age’ on Earth could cause -50C temperatures and food shortages, experts warn
      Daily Star – 2 Feb 2020


      • #
        Graeme No.3


        We are very likely to see lower temperatures for at least the next 30 years, but the figures are wrong.
        A GSM occurred around 1650 so the previous would have been about 1250 and the one before about 850 AD.
        Certainly temperatures must have been starting down near 1250AD (see the decision by previously independent Iceland to seek Danish rule in the expectation of help) but the major effect on weather in Europe came in 1315-1319. The downturn in the 17TH century was also accompanied by volcanic activity.
        850 AD was around the start of a warming period.


  • #

    The relevant data is surely how much stuff was burned.


  • #
    Alice Thermopolis

    Another “testable hypothesis’: that atmospheric CO2 drives the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), and hence our heatwaves and droughts.However, BOM and international agency data show there is no such causal link.

    See AFR Letter to Editor, 28 January, 2020: “Beware the climate waffle as bushfires rage.”

    “On December 26, your journalist Bo Seo quoted Wenju Cai in “For hope on drought and fire, look to the Indian Ocean.” Dr Cai is a CSIRO expert on the Indian Ocean Dipole. (See his 2009 paper.)

    “The connection [of the IOD] to bushfire conditions is very strong. They are much more strongly connected to IOD than to El Nino,” Dr Cai reportedly said.

    Let us assume Dr Cai is right and that the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (pIOD) is the “main driver” of Australia’s heatwaves and droughts.

    If so – and if CO2 is a significant causal factor here – then the Bureau of Meteorology’s dataset should show evidence of the impact of increasing CO2 emissions over the past half century on IOD type, frequency or intensity. However, there is no evidence in the BOM data supporting such an association.

    There is, therefore, no causal relationship between observed IOD behaviour (type, frequency, intensity) over the past half century and the 27per cent increase in global atmospheric “carbon” (dioxide) emissions — from 317ppm to 403ppm — over the same period.

    Carbon dioxide emissions – whether national, regional or global — therefore do not determine Australia’s bushfire vulnerability. IOD behaviour is random or pseudo-cyclical, unpredictable and driven by natural climate variability, not a consequence of so-called human-induced “climate change”.”

    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/letters-put-business-back-in-show-business-20200128-p53vew [link behind paywall]


    • #

      Nice work Alice! The IOD is likely a chaotic oscillator, hence unpredictably aperiodic. CO2 has nothing to do with it.

      One small correction. The 27% increase is in atmospheric concentration, not emissions. It may have little or nothing to do with our emissions, given that natural emissions are something like 20 times greater.


    • #
      Rusa unicolor

      Dr Cai is of the opinion that extreme IOD events are more likely as a result of greenhouse warming (although one might imagine that any kind of warming would equally effective):

      Cai, W. et al. Increased frequency of extreme Indian Ocean Dipole events due to greenhouse warming. Nature 510, 254-258, doi:10.1038/nature13327 (2014).


      • #
        Alice Thermopolis

        Yes. The Cai et al. 2014 paper makes a brave call: “We project [not predict]that the frequency of extreme pIOD events will increase by almost a factor of three, from one event every 17.3 years over the twentieth century to one event every 6.3 years over the twenty-first century.”

        Note the Cai 2009 paper also suggested that, “given that the recent increase in pIOD occurrences is consistent with what is expected from global warming, an increased bushfire risk in the future is likely across southeast Australia.”

        Note too this was another brave call based on an assumption – that the “projected IO warming pattern” would “continue to manifest as an increased frequency in pIOD occurrences” – not on actual empirical data.

        In fact, the proceeding years actually showed no such proposed trend: a nIOD in 2010, 2014 and 2016, a pIOD in 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2019, with a “spurious’ pIOD in 2017. In any case, extrapolating three or so years of pIODs is surely insufficient to infer a trend.

        A late 2018 paper by Chang Hui and Xioa-Tong Zheng, titled “Uncertainty in Indian Ocean Dipole response to global warming: the role of internal variability”, admitted “the response of IOD to global warming is quite uncertain in climate model projections”.

        So to another issue: model fallibility. For the entire climate modelling cabal of computer “in silico experimentation” is riddled with mathematical mystique, arcane and contestable assumptions, logical fuzziness and incomprehensible complexity; surely a shaky foundation on which to erect a grandiose global Zero Carbon (dioxide) plan in the vain hope it will deliver “climate stability”.

        No modeller, to my knowledge, has had the chutzpah to attempt to use his or her model to attempt to “hindcast” actual annual IOD pattern from the 1960-2019 dataset.

        See: https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2020/01/dipolaxing-the-bushfire-climate-change-nexus/


        • #
          Rusa unicolor

          Hmmm, I did check BOM IOD page and any increase frequency of pIODs is not obvious to me nether is an association with bad bushfire seasons (at least in Victoria).

          I would like to get hold of a modeller one day and ask some questions, as reading their papers has not proved to be particularly illuminating.


          • #
            Kalm Keith

            The only reliable modelling concepts that are available for ocean currents/movement allow predictions that are vague and flukey.

            The only way of getting accurate predictions of ocean movement is through constant monitoring and local knowledge.



        • #

          That paper is one of 4 which in 2013-2014 the IPCC relied on to make their grand 2020-2050 predictions for wildfires in SE Australia. There must have been a letter sent out by the IPCC to talk up the 2020 fire prediction detailed in the paper –

          Bushfire Weather in Southeast Australia: Recent Trends and Projected Climate Change Impacts, C. Lucas, K. Hennessy*, G. Mills and J. Bathols*
          Bushfire CRC and Australian Bureau of Meteorology
          * CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research September 2007
          Consultancy Report prepared for The Climate Institute of Australia.

          This week on Q&A Michael Mann talked about the 10 year prediction on wildfires. Now we have ANU’s Brian Schmidt claiming prediction brilliance by fellow researchers attached to the university.
          “Colleagues at ANU – including Professor Mark Howden who leads our Climate Change Institute and is member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – predicted a decade ago what climate change looks like. It looks like what we have seen this year.” He is referring to the above paper.


          The report was done by the Bushfire CRC and the BOM and not the Climate Change Institute.

          It’s not often you get a time dated prediction relied on by the IPCC that can be reassessed in hindsight for accuracy. The paper detailed changes in the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) over various locations including Nowra (South Coast NSW). CSIRO climate models were used and two new ratings (Very extreme and Catastrophic) added. These ratings were used during the 2019-2020 fire season. Any trend in the length of fire seasons was not statistically significant.

          In all simulations the largest changes in cumulative FFDI were in the NSW interior (Cobar, Moree, Dubbo) and northern Victoria with no significant trends identified in Canberra and Nowra. By 2020, the increase in ΣFFDI is generally 0 to 4% in the low scenarios and 0 to 10% in the high scenarios. The study authors asked a simple question;
          “An important question is raised by these findings: Is the apparent recent increase
          in fire weather due to climate change or is it simply the reflection of some natural
          (and unforseen) interdecadal change?”

          And the reply “Unfortunately, it is not possible to answer this question unequivocally at this time.”

          The paper indicted that at most locations, Fire Danger Ratings (FDR) of extreme and above are relatively rare; this is particularly so in the case of ‘catastrophic’ (FDR>100) events. Several stations have never observed an FFDI in excess of 100 (Catastrophic). Inland stations see more cases of extreme fire danger conditions. However, these occurrences are not evenly distributed throughout the year, but rather tend to either occur multiple times in a given season or not at all.

          Lucas et al actually had much lower risk assessment for the South Coast of NSW compared to inland areas (which haven’t burnt yet in the current fire season). The predicted average number of catastrophic fire days along the South Coast was 0-5 per Century. Essentially the predictions were never intended to fail but they have because the most extreme fire risk areas were not effected in 2019-2020 (to date). Vegetation or fuel load in the predicted high risk areas will be a major issue because due to the prolonged drought vegetation levels in high risk areas (predicted) is low.

          Although well researched, I’m really surprised at the quality of paper used by the IPCC for future predictions. There was a sense of low confidence in 2013-2014 but such work is now being trumpeted as predictive genius.

          Climate drivers were discussed in the above paper but I found far more concise and meaningful explanations for South Coast NSW fires in a paper by Duggin J., Bushfire History of the South Coast NSW, CSIRO, 1976.

          “The occurrence of unseasonal conditions can create extreme fire danger of the time when many small fires are burning. By far, the majority of bushfires are caused by either burning-off operations for grazing and land clearing purposes or from reigniting of these fires. The second type of season, in which extreme bush fire danger occurs in December-January, results from the prolonging of dry winter-spring conditions into the hotter summer months.”


  • #

    3 Feb: OFGEM UK: Rewiring Britain for a net zero future: Ofgem publishes Decarbonisation Action Plan
    •Building a system that supports the growth of renewables and ten million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030
    •Support development of an offshore grid to enable a four-fold increase in offshore wind generation by 2030
    •Set up an innovation fund focused on unlocking investment in innovative solutions to tackle climate change

    On his first day in office, Ofgem’s new chief executive Jonathan Brearley has launched Ofgem’s Decarbonisation Action Plan (LINK)…


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      readers are not amused – see comments:

      2 Feb: UK Sun: EXCLUSIVE: EMISSIONS IMPOSSIBLE: Boris Johnson speeds up plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars
      by Ryan Sabey
      BORIS Johnson is speeding up plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars in a green drive.
      Electric vehicles may be the only option for drivers — five years earlier than the current target of 2040.
      Discussions among officials in Whitehall are working towards bringing the ban forward to 2035. The decision could form part of a major intervention from the PM on climate change this week.
      Mr Johnson is also expected to set new ambitions on plastic use…

      Transport Minister George Freeman said he was “cheered” by Volkswagen saying it was raising its electric car ­production forecast for 2025.
      In a rallying call to the public and industry, Mr Freeman said “all of us are going to have to get with the programme”.
      He added: “We have momentum, we have know-how, we have industry commitment. Many people haven’t made the shift from electric motoring being a nice idea, a vision, to being a practical reality that we are going to do.”…

      Martyf: I refuse to cowtow to these eco warriors. My diesel is as clean as it can be, and gives me 60mpg with a 900 mile range. No electric vehicle will ever match it. I do a 500 mile round trip in a day easily, and laugh at those queuing for electric topups at the service stations. What a waste of time. Furthermore, no one seems to care about the depletion of the earths resources to make all these batteries for electric vehicles, nor what happens to them when they are finished. What happens to the “green” criteria then? Conveniently forgotten.

      Wickedwitch: Ridiculous. Two of my friends have one of those dreadful Prius things, both have been nothing but trouble from the day they had them and the batteries cost £2,000 plus to replace. Improve what we’ve already got by working towards making the emissions lower


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    Morning again Jo,
    You ask “Why so many fires in NSW?” At first I thought “arson”, but then I looked at the scale more closely and realised that was not an appropriate answer. I’ve wondered, but not discovered any official statement about the count in NSW, but suspect the inclusion of every spot fire, regardless of size, would give the numbers in the tens of thousands. They are frequently mentioned in reports and interviews, often put out quickly, but enough get away to cause havoc. But they rarely are given a name of their own, and seem to become included in the stats for larger fire causing the spotting.
    Conjecture on my part. Hope it’s useful.
    Dave B


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      Bill In Oz

      David here in SA
      Spotting fires from a main fire
      Are included as part of the main fire.
      Eg Cudlee Creek fire in the Adelaide Hills
      Or Ravine fire on Kangaroo Island


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      Every reported “fire” goes on the list.

      Two days ago, I attended one that burnt an area 100m by 20. That is 0.2 ha. Most probably caused by either a mechanical fault (it was between a main road and a railway) or a cigarette but. (There are still idiots amongst us) That counts as “one fire”, the same as one fire that burned 200,000 hectares.

      A dry summer has always meant a lot of fires. A dry summer with lots to burn and high winds means some of them get big. It has always been this way.


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    […] Jo Nova calls out fake news on our bushfires.  Devastating in areas with a lot of  houses but only  business as usual in the bush. […]


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    1 Feb: UK Independent: How climate-conscious children are forcing their schools to be more eco-friendly
    ‘Five-year-olds can be incredibly convincing because they are incredibly passionate’
    by Eleanor Busby
    Children as young as five are presenting business pitches to schools on how to be greener, while pupils are begging their parents to stop engines running outside the school gates and calling on teachers to make school trips closer to home…

    The number of eco-conscious students across the country has grown as a result of the movement led by teenage activist Greta Thunberg in recent months and the “Attenborough effect”, headteachers say…
    And pupils are increasingly demanding for school trips to be scaled back and for meat dishes to be replaced to reduce their carbon footprint.

    ***Pipers Corner School, a private girls’ school in Buckinghamshire, has employed an “environmentalist in residence”, believed to be the first of its kind, to address the rising interest among students.
    Phil Williams is helping teachers at the school embed lessons on climate issues across the curriculum, including in maths and psychology, and he is urging pupils to look at the school as a business…

    TWEET: Helen Ness-Gifford, Headmistress, ***Pipers Corner School, Buckinghamshire
    What an honour to welcome environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, Sarah Crossan and Sita Brahmachari to Pipers today, on the first day of our Literary Festival. And how fitting that our environmental work gets a mention in The Independent today.
    LINK Independent
    1 Feb 2020

    TWEET: Helen Ness-Gifford, Headmistress, Pipers Corner School, Buckinghamshire
    The end of a fabulous week’s skiing in Austria thanks to @ibt_travel @PipersCornerSch
    10 Jan 2020


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      Jonathon “population control” Porritt can encourage the children not to have children!

      Wikipedia: Jonathon Porritt
      Beyond Agenda 21: Porritt attended United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, eventually writing an introduction for The way forward : beyond Agenda 21 (1997)…
      Porritt is a patron of the population concern charity Population Matters, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust)…
      Porritt served as a trustee of the World Wildlife Fund (UK) from 1991-2005.[60] Porritt is on the advisory board of BBC Wildlife magazine[37] and actively supports the efforts of experts promoting renewable energy and sustainable development such as Walt Patterson…
      Porritt acts as advisor to many bodies on environmental matters, as well as to individuals including Prince Charles…

      ***Pipers Corner School Literary Festival:
      SATURDAY 1 FEBRUARY 2020 | 1800-1900 HOURS | £8
      Jonathon Porritt CBE is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. He co-founded ‘Forum for the Future’, the UK’s leading sustainable development charity. He will be speaking with Pipers Corner Environmentalist-in-Residence Phil Williams in a Question & Answer session…

      THURSDAY 6 February | 1730-1830 hours | £8
      Bestselling author and illustrator Kate Pankhurst introduces the stars of her new book ‘Great Women who Saved the Planet’. Prepare yourself for a celebration of women who have dedicated their lives to studying, conserving and protecting planet Earth and all its living things…

      25 Sept 2019: Pipers Corner School: UN Climate Change Award
      Pipers Corner has welcomed one of the first climate change teachers in the country! The United Nations has accredited this new role and the very first climate change teacher in the Wycombe District has been awarded to Melanie Collins, Head of Geography at Pipers Corner. She is in fact one of the first teachers in the UK to have completed the course.
      The UN Climate Change Teacher Academy is being run by Harwood Education in partnership with the One United Nations Climate Change Learning Partnership. Melanie Harwood, of Harwood Education said: “Young children are far more vulnerable to climate-related disasters and associated health risks than any other social group. In these days of a climate emergency, now more than ever, teachers all need the knowledge in these five courses that make up the Climate Change Teacher Course to ensure they deliver clear climate literacy to all their pupils.”

      Angus Mackay, director of the UN Institute for Training and Research said: “Anyone below the age of 20 is part of the ‘climate generation’ living all or most of their lives having to deal with climate change. The Climate Change Teacher Training Academy is an excellent idea because it will give children an intuitive understanding of the issues and it is solutions based.”

      Pipers Corner School is wholly committed to environmental issues and has recently banned the use of all single use plastic bottles in the school and has also successfully implemented an ecobricks plastic recycling scheme.

      An Environmentalist-in-Residence, Mr Phil Williams, recently joined the team at Pipers Corner. He has been taking his wealth of knowledge into the classroom and helping students and their teachers ensure that sustainability is at the very heart of teaching.

      can’t find anything on Phil Williams, the environmentalist-in-residence.


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    3 Feb: NYT: Japan Races to Build New Coal-Burning Power Plants, Despite the Climate Risks
    By Hiroko Tabuchi
    Just beyond the windows of Satsuki Kanno’s apartment overlooking Tokyo Bay, a behemoth from a bygone era will soon rise: a coal-burning power plant, part of a buildup of coal power that is unheard-of for an advanced economy…
    Japan now plans to build as many as 22 new coal-burning power plants — one of the dirtiest sources of electricity — at 17 different sites in the next five years, just at a time when the world needs to slash carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming…

    Together the 22 power plants would emit almost as much carbon dioxide annually as all the passenger cars sold each year in the United States. The construction stands in contrast with Japan’s effort to portray this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo as one of the greenest ever…
    Coal consumption has been rising for decades, as the energy-poor country, which is reliant on imports for the bulk of its energy needs, raced to wean itself from foreign oil following the oil shocks of the 1970s…

    The Japanese government’s policy of financing coal power in developing nations, alongside China and South Korea, has also come under scrutiny. The country is second only to China in the financing of coal plants overseas…


    • #

      A ton of coal has the energy equivalent of about 4 barrels of oil. Today’s price for Brent crude – US$54/barrel. Coal prices have been falling and a tonne sells for only around US$65. 22 gigajoules of energy in that tonne of black coal. It’s a bargain relative to oil. The Japanese aren’t missing a trick.

      As for ” dirty coal “, emissions from the newest and best Japanese thermal coal power stations are reportedly very close to that of a natural gas generator.


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      What else can they do given that rational discussion (let alone further deployment) of nuclear power is now out of the question in Japan?


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    3 Feb: Daily Mail: ‘We’ve warned you for decades’: Team of nearly 300 scientists fed up with inaction on climate change pen furious letter to Scott Morrison amid bushfire crisis
    •274 scientists have written an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison
    •The letter demands the government reconsider its position on global warming
    •The letter predicts extreme weather conditions will worsen in Australia
    By Brittany Chain For Daily Mail Australia and Australian Associated Press
    The letter, which has been signed by 274 climate experts, demands the government reconsider its position on global warming as the nation struggles through the worst bushfire season on record…

    The letter predicts extreme weather conditions will worsen should Australian leaders ignore the issue at hand.
    ‘Science tells us these extreme events will only grow worse in the future without genuine concerted action to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases.’…
    Seperately, Oxfam says the government must demonstrate it has fully grasped the lessons of this ‘horrific’ bushfire season.
    ‘In spite of the scientific evidence and the extreme weather we’re living through – bushfires, hail storms and drought – the government still hasn’t joined the dots and taken action to tackle the root causes of the crisis,’ Oxfam Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said in a statement.

    She said Australia’s policies must dramatically strengthen emissions reduction targets and move beyond fossil fuels…


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      3 Feb: news.com.au: 261 scientists sign open letter calling for ‘deep cuts’ to greenhouse gas emissions
      Hundreds of scientists have issued a stark warning about the future of Australia in a scathing open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
      by Robin Smith
      “In many ways, this letter is the product of despair as scientists witnessed the deadly fire season unfold,” Australian National University climate scientist Professor Nerilie Abram wrote.
      “Scientists have been warning policy makers for decades that climate change would worsen Australia’s fire risk, and yet those warnings have been ignored.”…

      They mention that the bushfires which ravaged large parts of Victoria, NSW and South Australia this summer were impacted by a changing climate. And, whether you like it or not, humans are responsible.
      “Human-caused climate change is worsening fire-weather and bushfires in southern and eastern Australia,” the group says on its website (LINK)…

      only noting Rahmstorf, who is one of I think 9 from Potsdam who signed on!

      AustralianBushfires&ClimateChange: There is no strong, resilient Australia without deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions
      An open letter on the scientific basis for the links between climate change and bushfires in Australia.
      This open letter is supported by 394 scientists with research expertise across the fields of climate, fire and weather science. This open letter is composed of the full statement, a summary statement, and lists of co-signatories and references. Co-signatures last updated: 06:00 AEST, 4th February 2020…
      Stefan Rahmstorf (Professor, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)


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    Rupert Gregg

    Was it Cobargo where there was a piece of rope with a goat on each end?


  • #
    Rupert Gregg

    Was it Cobargo where there was a piece of rope with goat on each end?


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    Graeme Bird

    A lot of potential for wood-gas generators and rocket mass heaters in this story. If we still had an economy that had smaller business tooled up to the max.


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      We don’t burn every piece of stray dead wood for the same reason that we don’t build all our houses out of rocks.

      In spite of the fact that bricks require clay to be dug out of the ground, mixed, formed and fired…. it is still cheaper and more cost-effective to build a large number of houses from bricks than from field rock.

      The reason should be obvious to anyone who has worked with raw materials. The cost of collectin, processing and distribution is far higher than he cost of the raw material. That is why it is more economic to dig coal out of the ground (which is also effectively “free” than to attempt to collect waste wood and other organic material that is scattered across the landscape.


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    By that map northern Australia should have been massively burning, it hasn’t.


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    John PAK

    Somehow I must get this sort of info to all members of Parliament and Opposition.
    On Tuesday I was present in The House for the Bushfire Memorial Speeches. All MPs in the Chamber talked for too long, became drawn into emotional expletives and seemed to love the sound of their own voices. Albanese (leader of opposition) couldn’t help himself and made a plug for “Climate Change”™ within minutes of standing up. Later I met with some Labour Shadow MPs who clearly had little or no idea about fires or climate. I mentioned fuel loads and our inability to actually fight anything over 3MW/m2 and the pointlessness of aerial tankers and they were lost or disinterested. The repeated failure of NSW Fire & Rescue crews to fight fires and the responsibility of National Parks to actually manage the bush, likewise seemed of no interest to them.

    I departed with a sense of pollies being rather dim and detached from practicalities but it was an interesting intro to Parliament.


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    One reason that the environmentalists and greens are quick to blame climate change for the bushfires is to deflect attention away from their long term oppposition to sensible forestry management, fuel reduction and the right of property owners to clear land to reduce risk.
    To say otherwise would mean accepting some responsibility for avoidable harm to people, wildlife and property.
    The logical fallacy of false attribution is not just dishonest, but dangerous.
    During the plague epidemics in mediaeval europe, witches were often blamed. The response to this was not just the burning of more innocent ‘witches’, but the killing of cats that were believed associated with witches. As cats played an important role in controlling the Yersinia Pestis vector (i.e.rats) this only served to increase the infection rate and mortality.
    Thank you Jo for publishing verifiable facts. It helps me persuade the the open minded that we need an approach to natural disasters based on science and not wilful ignorant belief.