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Massive Fires: far worse 4,000 years ago in Northern Australia

Arnhem Land, Australia, Map

Kenneth Richard at NoTricksZone, found some studies showing Fires are less common today than in the past — including a ripper of an Australian study.

Emma Rehn et al went to a small lake in far North Australia and dug up about 6m of sediment core from the bottom. They looked at charcoal deposits and a bunch of different minerals. They discovered that the top most recent layers had the worst fires for a thousand years. It had all the makings of a Great Climate Change advert. But to their absolute credit, they kept going down and further back and uncovered a story of four thousand long years of wild blazes.

Despite millennia of prehistoric infernos, no media outlets in Australia have shown any interest in this study which came out a month ago — showing Sensationalism is not all its cracked up to be, and not as much fun as Confirmation Bias.

Look at the current blip (left hand side) since European settlement, compared to the fires of 4,000 years ago (right hand side). As Mr Dundee would say, “That’s not a fire….  ”  

Carbon Flux, fires Arnhem land, paleolithic, Graph.

Carbon Flux showing the intensity of fires in Arnhem land for the last 5000 years.

The authors took mineral samples, looked at the different sizes of the charcoal particles. They decided that there were cycles of intense fires every 450 years in the era around 3 – 5,000 years ago largely driven by the climate. (Which climate models explain those cycles?)

There was also more rain around 4,000 years ago, which — rather than reducing fires — may have fueled the biomass growth that led to intense wildfires.

In the last 2,500 years ago, things got drier and more variable, and people who liked to eat a lot of mudflat shellfish moved into the area. Apparently they did more local fire management too. They appear to have been lighting more smaller fires. That, and the drier conditions meant there wasn’t the bulk biomass lying around to fuel the infernos we’ve come to expect from the modern Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The z-scores graph brings out the highest intensity fire periods.

The present is on the left (again).
Arnhem Land Fires, Graph

Arnhem Land Fires were far worse 3,000 to 5,000 years ago and once had cycles of high intensity every 450 years.

Map, Fires Study, NT

Marura, NT

Then a strange thing happened around 900 years ago when there was hardly any charcoal in the mud sediments. The people at the time ate less shellfish and appeared to wander around more. The fires seem to be small regular patchwork fires.

Then in the last 200 years, European people arrived, mucked up the neat patterns and big fires came back again for the first time in a thousand years. Though the top layers of mud were stirred up in the little lake, so actual dates are blurry. But historical records describe what happened.

We knew the fires were big, we just didn’t realize how unusual they were.

Of course even bigger and stupider fires occurred in the last twenty years far away on the East coast of Australia. Experts  decided they would protect koalas and spotted quolls by stopping all the small fires and grazing cows. Thus letting an incendiary tonnage of fuel build up so they could generate proper pyroclastic infernos that sterilize the Earth.

The new genius plan is to use solar panels and windmills to ward off Dem’ Big Climate Apocalypsy.

Stone Age science is so much more advanced than Politically Correct Science.

What happened in the last 200 years:

Arnhem Land was under pastoral lease from the late 19th to early 20th 1 centuries, before the establishment of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve in 1931 (Barrier Miner 1931; Cole 1982). Russell-Smith et al. (1997, p.180) noted the prevalence of intense late dry season fires in western Arnhem Land beginning in the last century with the “collapse of traditional management practice”, with such fires becoming commonplace after the 1940s. Changes in settlement patterns also led to altered fire management in areas such as Arnhem Land even after management was returned to traditional owners (see Head 1994, p.177). This is potentially reflected by high bulk pyrogenic carbon influx in the most recent samples from Marura, suggesting high fire intensities as associated with European-influenced or unmanaged late dry season burns; however, lead-210 dating results suggest mixing in the uppermost 10 cm of sediment and therefore no definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding the most recent period within the Marura record

For anyone wondering  why they think Phase II had more man-made burning:

Through indications such as short, alternating fire intensity phases and decoupling of bulk pyrogenic carbon δ13 C values from fire intensity changes, the fire record in Phase II is considered to be human-driven. This style of burning, as active fire management, is well documented; multiple studies by Bliege Bird et al. (2008, 2012, 2013) described mosaic  burning for subsistence in the Western Desert creating landscape patchiness, functioning as a buffer to climate-driven large scale fires and promoting species such as varanid lizards that require both burnt and unburnt habitat patches. Russell-Smith et al. (1997) detailed similar methods of burning for resource management in western Arnhem Land, and these methods are now utilised by over 70 registered savanna burning projects across northern Australia (Ansell et al. 2019).

Abstract

Fire has a long history in Australia and is a key driver of vegetation dynamics in the tropical savanna ecosystems that cover one quarter of the country. Fire reconstructions are required to understand ecosystem dynamics over the long term but these data are lacking for the extensive savannas of northern Australia. This paper presents a multiproxy palaeofire record for Marura sinkhole in eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. The record is constructed by combining optical methods (counts and morphology of macroscopic and microscopic charcoal particles) and chemical methods (quantification of abundance and stable isotope composition of pyrogenic carbon by hydrogen pyrolysis). This novel combination of measurements enables the generation of a record of relative fire intensity to investigate the interplay between natural and anthropogenic influences. The Marura palaeofire record comprises three main phases: 4600–2800 cal BP, 2800–900 cal BP and 900 cal BP to present. Highest fire incidence occurs at ~4600–4000 cal BP, coinciding with regional records of high effective precipitation, and all fire proxies decline from that time to the present. 2800–900 cal BP is characterised by variable fire intensities and aligns with archaeological evidence of occupation at nearby Blue Mud Bay. All fire proxies decline significantly after 900 cal BP. The combination of charcoal and pyrogenic carbon measures is a promising proxy for relative fire intensity in sedimentary records and a useful tool for investigating potential anthropogenic fire regimes.

REFERENCE

Rehn, E. et al (2021) A late-Holocene multiproxy fire record from a tropical savanna, eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia [PDF]

9.4 out of 10 based on 79 ratings

117 comments to Massive Fires: far worse 4,000 years ago in Northern Australia

  • #
    Peter Fitzroy

    So climate is what caused the bigger fires of 4000 years ago, but humans are the cause of the big fires now. Surely it must be both humans and climate then and now

    249

    • #
      Yonniestone

      All of that doesn’t matter as fires are now racist, get with the program Peter.

      341

    • #
      el gordo

      ‘ … but humans are the cause of the big fires now.’

      Not really, that horrendous bushfire season we endured and the wildfires in America were both caused by blocking high pressure. This is natural and from memory there were no pyromaniacs.

      115

      • #
        graham dunton

        but also not enough fuel reduction.

        271

        • #
          el gordo

          Yep, that played a part, but there wouldn’t have been widespread bushfires along the Great Divide without the blocking high situated off the Queensland coast. The blocking comes about because of a meandering jet stream.

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          • #
            GlenM

            Of course little mention of that fact in the great inquiry about the fires. Huge amount of material built up and a persistent Northerly due to the alignment of the High pressure. Not a blast of super heated CO2!.

            131

            • #
              el gordo

              That is correct and it’ll all come out in the Royal Commission.

              45

              • #
                R.B.

                Climate change didn’t cause the fires then or now. A climate of more rain in the wet period built up the fuel load so that fires that were always common burnt more fuel.

                There was a period of widespread deliberate burning by humans that meant that the particular year’s weather was less of a factor.

                It’s not that hard to get your head around.

                151

              • #
                el gordo

                A quiet sun shrank the stratosphere, causing the jet stream to meander in both hemispheres. Its the climate change which happens through natural variability.

                On the other side of our big island there is a story to tell of climate catastrophe.

                ‘The Kimberley region of northwest Australia contains one of the World’s largest collections of rock art characterised by two distinct art forms; the fine featured anthropomorphic figures of the Gwion Gwion or Bradshaw paintings, and broad stroke Wandjina figures.

                ‘Luminescence dating of mud wasp nests overlying Gwion Gwion paintings has confirmed an age of at least 17,000 yrs B.P. with the most recent dates for these paintings from around the mid‐Holocene (5000 to 7000 yrs B.P.).

                ‘Radiocarbon dating indicates that the Wandjina rock art then emerged around 3800 to 4000 yrs B.P. following a hiatus of at least 1200 yrs. Here we show that a mid‐Holocene ENSO forced collapse of the Australian summer monsoon and ensuing mega‐drought spanning approximately 1500 yrs was the likely catalyst of this change in rock art.’ (Hamish McGowan et al 2012)

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              • #
                Bruce

                Not if it doesn’t fit the “Narrative”, it won’t.

                One of the core rules of politics:

                NEVER ask a question to which you do not already have the “answer”.

                See also: NEVER initiate a formal inquiry for which you do not already have the “findings”.

                20

        • #
          TedM

          hit the nail on the head Graham

          30

          • #
            Lawrie

            The climate is becoming even more powerful. I heard a female politician or climate advocate talking about climate pollution. I was dodging potholes at the time so missed some details but my wife thought I would explode. Of course the “journalist” did not seek clarification.

            40

    • #
      robert rosicka

      Curious just how many fires does the climate start Peter ?

      171

      • #
        Harves

        Yes, I’d love to hear his theory on how a 40 degree day can cause spontaneous combustion of plant life.
        I’m no expert, but I was able to predict that regardless of any hot days, we would not have bushfires this season in those areas where vegetation had been reduced through burning last year. It’s not rocket science Peter. The intensity of bushfires is the result of vegetation build up and local weather patterns at the time – nothing to do with global temperatures.

        Wouldn’t it be great if we could do a simple experiment, where one region conducted responsible vegetation management as practiced before ‘The Greens’, over say 10 years and another adjacent region did nothing (as currently practiced because of ‘The Greens’). Then on a hot windy day, set both regions on fire … what do we think would happen?

        252

      • #
        John F Hultquist

        I think the fires start when the climate sends the temperature to Fahrenheit 451.
        Peter can correct me if I got that wrong.

        81

      • #
        Peter Fitzroy

        Read the post – Then answer your own question.

        111

        • #
          robert rosicka

          Peter you are saying “ Surely it must be both humans and climate then and now” your words so how many are started by climate change you must know because you have included climate so please enlighten us with your wisdom and tell us just how many fires are started by climate change ?

          20

    • #
      GlenM

      Just to be sure Lightning is the primary agent for fire – particularly at the build up stage and the advent of the wet season. A climate shift in the region from presumably sub-equatorial rainforest to the present savannah would contribute to a huge fuel load. I note the study was in East Arnhem.

      81

      • #
        TedM

        Arnhem land is very different situation in the SW. Many fewer thunerstorms in SW. However there were over 200 fires caused in one storm in SW WA in fire season 2002 2003. Most were contained early because of excellent surveillance and suppression.

        60

    • #
      Chris

      No Peter, we have been told many times that aboriginal people cared for the environment and lit small fires that ‘trickled like water’. So the fires must have been caused by either the climate or spontaneous combustion .

      80

    • #
      williamx

      Fitz,

      I can argue a case re your opening statement.

      I’d like to, but it’s sleepy Saturday and I just want to relax.

      You may be interested to know, re fire ignition:

      I was a former Fire Rescue Investigator

      Fire reports have been digitized since 1998.

      From those reports, over a 22 year period, the findings re bushfires are:

      80 % are started by Humans, either by accident or intent.
      7% by lightning.
      13% undetermined.

      These are the stats for the state of NSW, Australia.

      I hope that this information helps all.

      110

    • #
      Leonard

      Joanne. The following comment of yours is golden.
      “Stone Age science is so much more advanced than Politically Correct Science.”

      Peter, I do not think it is possible to link modern climate change propaganda to historical fire records at any time in the past. The links are just not there.

      80

    • #
      Geoff Sherrington

      The region around Blue Mud Bay has seldom been visited by white people, let alone settlers or graziers. Thus, the Whiteys have probably not added to existing fire patterns to make them more complicated.
      OTOH, the Top End west of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve was often burned off over large areas by pastoralists. I have even lit a few fires myself. Geoff S

      100

  • #
    Hanrahan

    What would have drawn the researchers to this particular spot I wonder. Few people would even know it exists, just a dark smudge on G earth.

    71

    • #
      Tilba Tilba

      What would have drawn the researchers to this particular spot I wonder. Few people would even know it exists, just a dark smudge on G earth.

      A couple of strong possible reasons:

      1. Arnhem Land (as Aboriginal freehold) is overseen and managed by the Northern Land Council (NLC), and the NLC is a large and complex organisation with land management, agricultural, and environmental science staff.

      2. Blue Mud Bay was (is) the principal site of a major precedent-setting Native Title claim … the main issue being the nature of native title rights in the intertidal (mudflat) zone – and in the NT the land and shelf are very flat, and the tides are big, meaning the resource rich mudflat zone is large.

      So both of these reasons could have contributed to (a) the NLC on behalf of landowners having an interest in establishing millennia of traditional land/water usage, and (b) working with outside scientific teams, providing them with permits, access, and practical support.

      It is a beautiful party of the world – wild, remote, and menacing.

      94

    • #
      el gordo

      Scientists look at lakes because of the sediment, they do it everywhere. In the same way they research shallow sea cores, coral and ice cores. Some tremendous discoveries are waiting to be unearthed.

      Dried up Lake George (outside of Canberra) reveals that there was a monstrous fire regime 90,000 years ago and not a human in sight.

      123

      • #
        Hanrahan

        OK, so why this lake and not L. George or any other closer to civilisation? I’m not inferring anything, just curious.

        61

        • #
          John F Hultquist

          I suspect the original text explains choice of site.
          They search for places that have deep undistrubed sediment.

          80

        • #
          David Maddison

          Lake George is not a permanent lake but randomly empties and fills so would not create a reliable or consistent sedimentary record.

          80

          • #
            el gordo

            That is well known, its all part of the picture.

            ‘At the time of the arrival of Europeans in the area around Lake George it was mostly eucalypt woodland. The sediment contains pollen that shows that fire increased from about 130,000 BP, associated with an increase in eucalypts in the surrounding area. Prior to this eucalypt proliferation the vegetation was less sclerophyllous, with vine thickets and casuarinas.’ (Australia: A land that time forgot)

            41

      • #
        Tilba Tilba

        Scientists look at lakes because of the sediment, they do it everywhere.

        I’m sure that’s true – I am just attempting to provide some context on why the Blue Mud Bay area might have been of particular interest, compared to thousands of km of similar flat coastal areas on the North Australia coast.

        16

    • #
      Kalm Keith

      I’m still trying to work out what’s the point of all this.

      Is there anywhere on Earth that had trees 4,000 years ago but didn’t have fires?

      The very definition of this type of sinkhole suggests that it is connected to a removal of support by the water table.

      Is it coincidence that the nearby ocean fell three metres in the last four thousand years: of course the water table was unaffected. Truly.

      Is there still a connection between the sinkhole and the daily huge tidal flush.

      Would flow from the local surrounding bush bring with it material from the ground 5 metres higher than the swamp hole surface?

      And: how does this serve to help us move forward?
      I just can’t see the point of this “study”.

      50

    • #
      Penguinite

      This is probably the site of a landbridge connection that enabled early inhabitants to populate Australia?

      10

  • #
    el gordo

    ‘Then a strange thing happened around 900 years ago …’

    That would be the LIA in Australia, monsoon failure.

    63

    • #
    • #
      Greg in NZ

      ‘900 years ago… monsoon failure’

      when numerous Polynesians boarded their waka (double-hulled sailing vessels) and set a course to the south-west, into the prevailing headwind, disembarking on arrival in the Land Of The Long White Cloud – RAIN! – sweet glorious rain.

      An oft’ heard play on words from the 1970s was: Land Of The Wrong White Crowd. Yet some are happy to sell ‘our’ fresh water to overseas parties for the mere cost of paperwork… and export it in plastic bottles.

      Save the Earth – from parasites.

      100

  • #
    John F Hultquist

    A friend of ours is pursuing this “fire/sediment” sort of research; mostly in northwestern USA.
    Search ” megan walsh paleoecology ”
    Very interesting; not that I want to do such. I guess the graduate students do the tedious (to me) counting of pollen and charcoal.

    70

  • #
    Bill Burrows

    I made a Submission to the Senate Inquiry on Native Vegetation Laws, Greenhouse Gas Abatement and Climate Change Measures in 2010. Link: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/Completed%20inquiries/2008-10/climate_change/index Go to Submissions received and mine is #297. (Caution large file size).

    I consider many of the Inquiry’s target subjects, including perspectives on fire frequency since the arrival of Europeans and their domestic livestock. The submission is unusual in that it is a pdf of slides (in notes view) from PowerPoint talks. So it gives illustrated data as well as opinion.

    71

  • #
    R.B.

    Climate change didn’t cause the fires then or now. A climate of more rain in the wet period built up the fuel load so that fires that were always common burnt more fuel.

    There was a period of widespread deliberate burning by humans that meant that the particular year’s weather was less of a factor.

    It’s not that hard to get your head around.

    (Sorry about posting it on the wrong spot above)

    60

  • #
    David Maddison

    Here is a picture of the Marura Sinkhole from which the sediments were taken, from an earlier paper.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/PKMcjrWmCwjszNDy8

    40

  • #
    mondopinion

    Sensationalism vs. Confirmation Bias ! O what a cruel choice for those poor conflicted news manufacturers ! So funny !!!

    00

  • #
    Kalm Keith

    Some other factors:

    Four thousand years ago, which seems to be the focal point, there was another factor; Sea Level.

    At this time sea level was about three metres higher than now.
    Then, as others have mentioned, there’s the overlay of the substantial daily tides.

    I guess the main thing that seems to be shared by others is the expenditure of so much money and energy on this study.

    Can’t Australia find something more useful to work on?

    KK

    50

    • #
      Matthew

      Finding a way of getting water from the coast to the inland would be a good start.

      50

      • #
        David Maddison

        Such a scheme was proposed by John Bradfield in 1938, the Bradfield Scheme. Naturally, the Left are opposed to it, or any modern (modified) version of it.

        Australia also wasted staggering billions of dollars plus massive ongoing costs for unneeded and unused desalination plants because Flim Flammery told the government it was never going to rain again. That money could have been used for the Bradfield or similar schemes many times over.

        110

        • #
          Tilba Tilba

          Australia also wasted staggering billions of dollars plus massive ongoing costs for unneeded and unused desalination plants because [Tim Flannery] told the government it was never going to rain again. That money could have been used for the Bradfield or similar schemes many times over.

          The Bradfield Scheme – and other such schemes – have never demonstrated either practicality or financial viability. If shipping huge amounts of water long distances were viable, I expect it would have been done by now.

          And in respect of the Victorian Desalination Plant – it might look like it’s surplus to Melbourne’s needs … until it is very much required. It was approved during the Millennium Drought – which we lived through and I can advise it was pretty tough (with water reserves falling to critically low levels), and harsh water restrictions were imposed.

          The North-South Pipeline is also able to add capacity and flexibility to Melbourne’s water supply in times of long drought.

          010

          • #
            David Maddison

            Even the Socialist Morning Herald thinks the Victoriastan desal plant is bad and it also produces water with excessive amounts of boron.

            Water shortages could have been solved with either existing dams or more dams and use of the unused North South pipeline which the Andrews socialist dictatorship refuses to use.

            https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/questions-linger-over-health-risk-from-desal-plant-water-20160526-gp47oi.html

            80

            • #
              Tilba Tilba

              Water shortages could have been solved with either existing dams or more dams

              Ummm … just to point out the obvious – “more dams” are not necessarily a solution, since they can be environmentally destructive, ultimately they ALL silt up, and most obviously, dams don’t help if they are empty in a drought.

              There might be miniscule levels of additional Boron in the fresh water out of the desal plant, but I think the punters of Melbourne would put up with that cheerfully if the alternative were to die of thirst.

              16

              • #
                robert rosicka

                So Dams are environmentally destructive for drinking water and farming but environmentally responsible for pumped hydro ?

                90

              • #
                Harves

                I’m just glad that Flim Flannery didn’t predict that the world would end in a hail of meteor showers … imagine how much the government could have wasted on that BS prediction.
                Gotta love the leftist logic (and I use the term very loosely) … they point to hydro electricity as a huge success story in renewables overseas … but have protested every suggestion of a new dam in Australia for the past 30 years. Gotta save some insignificant burrowing skink … but have no problem slicing eagles to bits with their windmills.

                60

              • #
                Matthew

                From this time on, every new dam to be constructed is to be a ‘pumped hydro’ dam, it will get waved through by the greens faster than you can say ‘purple spotted lizard’.

                20

          • #
            robert rosicka

            Pish posh Tilba, Australia doesn’t have a problem with rain it has a problem with storing and distribution of collected water , a big Bradfield scheme built now would open more of the country up to farming and go a long way towards drought proofing for another long drought such as that big drought that hit oz in the Middle Ages .

            100

            • #
              Lucky

              Storage of water in dams- bad.
              Allows environmentally destructive over-population in dry areas.

              Storage of electricity in batteries – good.
              Creates jobs for child labor, fire department, and mining income for China.

              90

          • #
            Bruce

            Interestingly, in Queensland, the taxpayers funded a serious pipeline from Wivenhoe dam, all the way uphill, to a coal-fired power plant on the Darling downs. This plant had been built adjacent to a sizeable coal deposit and a water source. During drought conditions, the local water supply looked like being inadequate, to say the least.

            So, pumping water across the scenery and UPHILL has already been done, just not on the scale of Bradfields eighty-year-old scheme.

            10

        • #
          Bruce

          So, has anyone risked life and limb looking into the “spillage” surrounding these dodgy, hydrocarbon fueled desalination plants?

          00

    • #
      Geoff Sherrington

      KK,
      Can you double check your figures please?
      Global sea level is rising, so 5,000 years ago it would have been 3-4 metres lower than now.
      At present time, based on their numbers and Google Earth, the high tide surface is some 16 metres lower than the bottom of the profiled sink hole; the deepest water now is roughly 38 m above this high tide top. The lake water surface is now about 50 m above mean sea level.
      Today’s tidal range was roughly 2.1 m low to high at Groote Eylandt (a major BOM station for tides) in Jan 2021. Assume it has been roughly the same over 5,000 years.
      A safe assumption, because both historic sea levels and tidal range put the sea surface always rather lower than the profiled bottom of the sink hole. The region was not glaciated in the last 100,000 years so isostatic rebound is not a consideration.
      Which all points to the negligible inferred effect of the sea over this time.
      That said, there was a considerable weight of rock taken away from below the hole before it sinked, to make the cavity into which the near-surface rock collapsed. Presumably, this had made its way in tiny bits down to the sea over an inferred long time period, I’d guess at millions of years, but a guess is probably wrong. That is about the only sinkhole level/sea level coupling that I can imagine needs addressing. Geoff S

      00

  • #
    David Maddison

    ***Off topic***

    Farcebook’s “fact checkers” just rated the following item as “false”.

    Big-tech has already openly stated the cancellation of President Trump was just the beginning.

    No conservative or science rationalist is safe.

    https://stopthesethings.com/2021/02/09/coal-comfort-total-collapse-in-wind-solar-output-leaves-freezing-germans-desperate-for-coal-fired-power/

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    • #
      Harves

      This is how aap justifies the fact-check conclusion it is false… note the clever wording.
      “ However, while data from energy think tank Agora Energiewende shows significant fluctuations in renewable power generation during January and February, there were no periods in which either wind turbines or solar panels were delivering no electricity for the grid. “
      So as long as there’s a trickle of current renewables are fine.

      Or how about this gem:
      “Rather than an unexpected “failure” in Germany’s power network, the phenomenon is a long-identified challenge during the so-called “dunkelflaute” – or “dark doldrums” – when a lack of sunlight and wind means the grid relies heavily on coal, gas and nuclear power.”
      So because the failure is “not unexpected” you can’t actually call it a failure.

      You could not make this stuff up.
      https://www.aap.com.au/misleading-memes-in-the-dark-on-renewable-energy-fail-during-german-winter/

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    • #
      Lawrie

      It is a pity that Matt Kean cannot read. If he could he might learn his green dream can only ever be that, a dream. It might be better sending this information to his fellow parliamentarians with a warning that blackouts are always blamed on those in power and blackouts are coming thanks to green policies implemented by so called conservatives.

      70

  • #
    Robber

    Finally some common sense in Victoria on fire protection.
    Work is in progress to create 35 kilometres of strategic fuel breaks around Lorne, Aireys Inlet and Anglesea, to provide better protection from bushfires. Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) is constructing the 40-metre wide breaks using specialist mulching machinery to reduce bushfire fuel. By connecting existing fuel breaks, the works will create a ring of fuel-reduced land around each town.
    Far better then the previous limited burnoffs.

    90

  • #
    Ross

    For bushfire management in the populated areas of any forested regions of Australia the citizenry either endure smoke in spring/autumn from hazard reduction fires or you get it in Summer. It’s a simple choice. Hazard reduction (burn offs) burning is really difficult to manage because mostly it’s in the seasons with marginal fire conditions. As this historical research shows if you don’t do the difficult task of hazard reduction you get the BIG fires. We give a lot of credit to the Aboriginals and their burning off culture- but it was easy for them. They just lit the fire in the most conducive fire conditions and stood up wind and let it go. No infrastructure or people to worry about.

    100

    • #
      Tilba Tilba

      For bushfire management in the populated areas of any forested regions of Australia the citizenry either endure smoke in spring/autumn from hazard reduction fires or you get it in Summer.

      We resided in Darwin for ten years – it was very rare to have clear skies. During the Wet Season (November to April), it was cloudy a lot of the time, and during the Dry, “cool burning” was undertaken right around the city, and there was always a smoky haze.

      Lousy for star-gazing, but we did get spectacular sunsets over the sea.

      32

    • #
      Analitik

      We give a lot of credit to the Aboriginals and their burning off culture

      “We” don’t, The media does.

      80

      • #
        Tilba Tilba

        “We” don’t, the media does.

        That’s very harsh … lots of credible authorities and historians – including school textbook authors etc – give due credit to Indigenous Australians for their “firestick farming” … and their contribution to shaping of the Australian landscape.

        I don’t know why it’s necessary to denigrate it .. whitefellas can learn from long-standing Indigenous land management.

        15

        • #
          Analitik

          As Ross stated above, the aborigines didn’t have infrastructure to worry about so their fire stick farming was fairly indiscriminate burning to drive game in the desired direction.. The “rotation” aspect they are credited with was about simply basic survival – there would be no worthwhile game to herd/drive in an area until it had regenerated and repopulated

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          • #
            Bruce

            It wasn’t the nicely alliterative “fire-stick farming”, but fire-stick HUNTING. Life was not exactly a rural idyll in those days. Smaller wildlife was cooked on the spot as the fire advanced. Skippy and her mates hopped out of the smoke on the down-wind side to be whacked by a bunch of hungry blokes wielding spears and boomerangs, (and not the cheesy “tourist” models, either).

            Yes, it was cyclic and yes, it had the effect of encouraging the growth of grasses that several game species really liked. But it also, in the long term, provided the ideal conditions for the wider spread of the incredibly “opportunistic”, fire-climax eucalyptus and acacia species, both of which are pretty good at surviving low-level fires and thus out-competing less hardy species.

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              PeterW

              Bruce…

              With respect, frequent fire promotes open, grassy understory. Both eucalypts and acacias are vulnerable to fire as juveniles, so a burning regime of every 2-3 years will kill off the next generation before it has an opportunity to seed. That is why the early explorers and settlers recorded so much open woodland. Large, mature eucalypts mostly mixed with grasses.

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                Bruce

                PW, quite correct, however, when this cycle is broken, the eucalypts and acacias that manage to germinate and survive, go wild. Once above a certain size, they are fairly “fire tolerant”, more-so than many other species.
                There was a very good reason that when Mitchell’s party wandered across these regions, the area became known as “Australia Felix” and was bookmarked for grazing. The other thing recorded by Mitchell and several other explorers. was there almost constantly being columns of smoke off in the distance.

                So, with “settlement” came fire suppression and the rest is what we have today.

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      PeterW

      Ross….

      It was only “easy” for aboriginals because they did it a lot.
      They may not have had much in the way of structures to lose, but they also had no bulldozers to create safe spaces and no faster method of getting out of the way of a wind-driven fire than their own feet…..

      Aboriginal fire management has been romanticised. It had far more to do with being able to live safely and comfortably in a very dry, hot (in summer) environment without getting burnt or seeing all of your food sources burnt for vast distances. It was accomplished by lighting up as soon as any portion of the landscape was dry enough to burn in spring. Dry ridges can be safely burnt while the wetter gullies are still green and providing refuges. In later, hotter weather, those burnt-out ridges restricted fires from running across vast distances. Other fires were lit just ahead of oncoming rain fronts. It’s not that complex.

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    Maptram

    Then there’s the question of CO2 emissions coming from hazard reduction. Are humans responsible for the CO2 emissions? Perhaps, rather than hazard reduction by burnoff, perhaps the authorities could collect the material and burn it to produce electricity, then it would be electricity from renewable sources. After all, in Europe, electricity produced by burning timber grown in plantations is considered to be renewable energy.

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      David Maddison

      On a related note, Australia’s fanatical fear of CO2 and commitment to the lie of anthropogenic global warming, means that Australia is one of the few developed countries in the world which prohibits the burning of municipal garbage for electricity generation.

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      David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz

      As I consider that CO2 is not causing any significant, and maybe zero, warming or climate change, I also consider your concern about producing any is misplaced. Irrelevant.
      Cheers
      Dave B

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      Analitik

      Biomass recovered during plantation harvesting (ie logging) is straightforward since all the access infrastructure is already in place for the primary product.

      To recover meaningful amounts of forest floor debris would require blazing and maintaining trails throughout the forests plus running vehicles through the forest areas to drag or carry out the debris for trucks to haul back to processing plants for conversion to fuel pellets. The whole exercise would be hugely labour intensive, expensive, inefficient and disruptive of the environment. Something the greentards would really get behind, in retrospect.

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    Maptram

    I saw a program on the ABC about 5 years ago about cool season burning in the NT. Apparently, scientific studies have shown that CO2 emissions from cool season burning are less that the CO2 emissions from the hot season bushfires, so much so that an oil company was sponsoring local Aborigines to do the cool season burning and the company was claiming carbon credits.

    The same, or a similar program, was shown on the ABC about 2 years ago

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      PeterW

      Not hard to understand. Spring burning achieves the same objective in Southern NSW, burning while the soil and litter layers are still too moist to burn completely. In a hot, dry summer, combustion of soil organic matter is complete down to a depth of 10-20cm

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    Ruairi

    The warmists will spin every fire,
    To make forecasts alarmingly dire,
    As with each hurricane,
    Mankind is to blame,
    Being false, folks weary and tire.

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    David Maddison

    Why some people are terrified of CO2.

    https://www.livescience.com/5910-carbon-dioxide-triggers-primordial-fear-suffocation.html

    Carbon Dioxide Triggers Primordial Fear of Suffocation

    By Charles Q. Choi

    The brain’s fear center apparently has a built-in chemical sensor triggered by a primordial terror — threat of suffocation.

    […]

    For nearly a century, scientists have known that carbon dioxide inhalation can trigger panic attacks. People with panic disorder are particularly susceptible — a single breath of carbon dioxide can trigger panic attacks in them. Patients suffering from respiratory failure are also known to become extremely anxious.

    “It has been proposed that panic and anxiety disorders involve a suffocation alarm gone haywire,” Welsh said. “Now, this work may shed some light on this well-known phenomenon and suggests strategies for further exploration.”

    […]

    A number of meditation techniques endeavor to instill calm through controlled breathing. “I wonder if some of those strategies came about and were developed over time recognizing the anxiety-lowering effects that ventilation can have,” Wemmie added.

    See link for rest.

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      David-of-Cooyal-in-Oz

      Wow,
      ” For nearly a century, scientists have known that carbon dioxide inhalation can trigger panic attacks. People with panic disorder are particularly susceptible — a single breath of carbon dioxide can trigger panic attacks in them. Patients suffering from respiratory failure are also known to become extremely anxious. ”
      What a lousy sentence.
      It implies that just breathing normal air gives this result. But prior to that sentence it does mention concentrations of 5%, or 130 times normal concentrations, and 10%, which changes things a bit.
      Cheers
      Dave B

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      Kalm Keith

      It’s actually the reverse.

      The breathing cycle during singing actually leads to a higher blood concentration of CO2 which is very relaxing. The old trick of rebreathing into a paper page has been used as a treatment for anxiety.

      Both singing and the paper bag thing create highly CO2 levels in the bloodstream. Calm.

      By contrast at the end of life there’s a frequent phenomenon observed where people who are ready just let go.

      They let go, and fall into a breathing pattern that is the exact opposite of singing: this involves long slow inspiration of air which refreshes the oxygen levels in the lungs constantly. After that long slow inhalation there’s an explosive release from the lungs that expels CO2, and repeat.

      The oversupply of oxygen in the blood removes so much CO2 from the system that the resulting low CO2 level produces death.

      Normally during life alkylosis is dangerous but near death it is welcomed.

      It’s interesting that the human brain monitors CO2 levels in the bloodstream, not oxygen.

      This seems to conflict with the quote.

      KK

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      Bruce

      The very presence of Carbon Dioxide in the lungs triggers the CO2 / breathing reflex. It’s BUILT IN to the body’s autonomic system. Spend some time in a greenhouse with artificially boosted CO2 and you will notice a slight increase in breathing rate, even with no significant increase in “exercise.

      CO2: plant food. If it were not for plants, starting with tiny single-celled ones and moving up, there would be NO free oxygen in the atmosphere. Just a note; there was NO free oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere after it coalesced and started cooling. It was ALL tied up in metallic and other oxides. Is that the “primordial” state to which the eco-loons want the place reduced?

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        Speedy

        Good old stromatalites – and the great oxidation event. (Which is where the Pilbara iron comes from.)

        It’s all there, but people who think that “history” started with the industrial revolution don’t get it…

        Cheers,

        Speedy

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    Shallow Thinker

    This is a most interesting study, especially the recorded 4420 BP event. This is about the start of the Meghalayan Age, which began at the time when agricultural societies around the world experienced an abrupt and critical mega-drought and cooling, causing a collapse of civilisations. Looks like there was a fair bit of fire around at this time, maybe not all from Australia.

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    el gordo

    Fire increased 4000 years ago because of a drop in ‘effective precipitation’.

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/095968369500500102

    Coupled with the arrival of new migrants from India, fleeing from climate change on the subcontinent, they may have been responsible for the conflagration on the Top End.

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    TdeF

    I remember well a newspaper science article about 25 years ago about an American group of scientists who arrived to work out why rainfall in Australia suddenly halved 50,000 years ago. That was news and the climate research very interesting.

    Of course this coincides with the arrival of the aborigines, their dogs and their fire sticks. Then the US team vanished without reporting. Why?

    The answer is just too obvious. Even science fiction writer Tim Flannery concedes the aborigines wiped out the mega marsupials he studied. And in a very short time. The one ton wombats and giant emus and more. We know this as it was very recent and the bones are there, some in a sink hole where they fell and could not escape.

    So like the human migrations which wiped out the wild horses which populated North America, horses which are in the bone record for nine million years. And the modern US migration has nearly wiped out all the buffalo and many more species. They were preserved by at least one visionary. But generally the entire landscape has changed.

    Now we are given the ridiculous idea that early man cared for the land in Australia, America, Europe, the only ones who actually cared were agricultural settlers and they cleared the land for crops, erected buildings, dug canals, built dams and changed the water courses. All to feed people or for trade. 26 locks were built on the Murray river before WWII, locks which would be illegal today. No longer does the Murray run dry.

    And the American Indians (from Asia in three separate groups, 10,000 years apart) must have been really surprised to see the Conquistadors on their horses. They had even lost the recipes for tasty horse.

    Now replacing facts we have a fantasy ecological and human history, where early man was a caring, sensitive type who lived in total peace with other tribes. The Dream Time. This is despite the fires brought by the aborigines destroyed Australia, most of its vegetation, its rainfall and most of its species. And 50,000 years of intertribal endless deadly violence, like all hunter gatherers, meant there were precious few aborigines in a land with no predators or outside enemies, against the 26 million people in Australia today. But that is just fact. And we have to thank these carers at every public event. Why not thank the farmers who feed us all and the British culture which brought law and order and peace to a deadly country.

    So I know why the US research team went home without a word. In a world where even “The Science” is just woke fantasy, who wants the truth?

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      Analitik

      Yes, with their introduction of intentional burning for driving game into sinkholes and other traps transforming much of the inland vegetation from forest to plains, the aboriginals caused more climate change in.Australia than any action that the European “invasion” ever has (or could).

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        el gordo

        Careful as you go, inland vegetation has been changing over the past 130,000 years and has nothing to do with fire stick burning.

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        el gordo

        Megafauna were around for 30,000 years after the arrival of humans.

        ‘The extinctions of these tropical megafauna occurred some time after our youngest fossil site formed, around 40,000 years ago. The time frame of their disappearance coincided with sustained regional changes in available water and vegetation, as well as increased fire frequency. This combination of factors may have proven fatal to the giant land and aquatic species.’ (Guardian)

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      TdeF

      I have always had an idea to increase rainfall in my country. Vegetation changes colours and encourages rainfall, possibly because vegetation means water and lower reflectivity and cooler. Losing our vegetation changed the rainfall in Australia. Like Brazil, old ecosystems can be very frail although they look robust. Suddenly with fire the deserts were barren.

      As the world’s oldest continent, we don’t have mountains, like the Rockies or Alps or the Himalayas. Nor big rivers from mountains like the Nile, Mississipi, Mekong, Yellow, Yangtze, Ganges or Amazon. But it doesn’t rain because of mountains but because the mountains create back pressure which pushes the moist air to higher altitude and lower tempeatures and pressure where water carrying capacity drops and rain falls. Like Innisfail in the trade winds. So we should make fake mountains. Make the air rise, at no cost.

      Along the NSW border or Victoria I would build a wide North South strip perhaps 1km wide and 100km long of very black material, like rutile. We have lots of rutile. And the volcanic beaches of the new South Pacific island are covered in awful fine black sand. We could swap for real sand. With our mining capacity, we could do it quickly and cheaply. And the very high solar radiation in that area at 30-33 degrees would create a huge updraft which would do the same as a mountain range. And it would cost nothing to run forever. Even the gliding would be great, if hot. Compared to $6Billion a year annually in stolen electricity cash for privateers to buy Chinese windmills, we could actually change our climate. There are many other ideas, like sea harvesting of surface temperature, using the gradient in the ocean and the whole ocean as a solar panel. This is proven.

      The real question for scientists, engineers and all people who really believe we can change our climate is not whether we should do it, but how? And what do we want? Where is that research being done?

      We want more rain. We have sunshine and CO2. The three ingredients of all life on the planet are oxygen, Carbon Dioxide and sunlight. And carbohydrates are nothing more than hydrated Carbon dioxide and also evil Industrial pollution apparently. Oil, gas and coal are just old plant matter. So what is the problem? Why not change Australia, grow food for the world? Or is it all sacred and we should go home?

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        PeterW

        Problem is that we already have a massive area that gets far hotter than 30-odd Celsius….. it’s called inland Australia. It doesn’t create the kind of rainfall you are talking about, in fact, anything but. The air is far too dry….

        Nor would it magically gain more moisture when that moisture is derived from evaporation from oceans thousands of km away, and – even if the theory worked – would render current wheat-belt west of the Dividing Range, into a desert through the rain-shadow effect. There is no free lunch.

        Perhaps a slightly less fantastic alternative would be to dig a canal from Port Augusta to Lake Eyre. Being below sea-level, a Lake Eyre would fill naturally and act as an evaporation basin. That might actually put more moisture in the atmosphere to fall on the headwaters of the Murray-Darling Basin.

        One can daydream.

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      Len

      The Traditional owners pantomine comes from a project created from book written by Joseph Stalin on the direction of Lenin. The name of the book was “On the National Question”. It involved establishing independent communist Aboriginal Republics in countries with indigenous populations. This project basically commenced in Australia in the 1950s. Australian Communist Party members were asked to work in the Aboriginal communities. Charlie Perkins, a communist ran the Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Minister had no say in what went on in his department. It has progressed with Ernie Dingo’s welcome to country, black and red flag flown alongside the national flag. Every lefty is pushing the treasonous situation

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        TdeF

        And it is all stolen culture. The aborigines did not have cloth or metal, let alone a flag. And they do not own the copyright. Cultural appropriation is now appalling, but it only works one way apparently. The aboriginal activists want the Australian government to buy the flag back. Councils already fly it from town halls. I hope they are paying royalties.

        The real question though is the weather, the rain. South Americans sacrificed their young en masse just to bring the rain back and they have the inverse climate to ourselves due to the shared cycles of the Pacific which covers half the planet. Other cultures had rain dances. But I keep forgetting that CO2 and only CO2 controls the climates of the world. So what would aboriginal people know, even if the BOM has aboriginal weather? We know not to burn ancient forests. Only massive uncontrolled disastrous bushfires are legal, endorsed and supported and even augmented by leftist conservationist governments as in Victoria.

        And where are our guaranteed Climate Change caused bushfires this very cold year, ten degrees cooler? And our many and more frequent Tropical storms. We know for certain it’s not the fuel load but CO2 which causes warming and bushfires. We are taught this by the Victorian government under a legally sanctioned parliament approved dictatorship of one man who nearly legislated his own all powerful army answerable only to him. Even the Greens voted against it, which is something. You could not make this stuff up in the so called democracy of Victoria.

        If we could change the rainfall, there would be a law against it.

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    Shallow Thinker

    The authors took mineral samples, looked at the different sizes of the charcoal particles. They decided that there were cycles of intense fires every 450 years in the era around 3 – 5,000 years ago largely driven by the climate.

    As a slight distraction, fellow bloggers who are not familiar with Lonnie G Thompson’s work on ice cores from low latitude ice caps should read this, and look at this.
    In summary, the youtube link shows the response of Peruvian highland/coastal cultures in 450 year blocks over the last 2,000 years. What is even more fascinating is the above charcoal particle study takes the timeline for about 450 year cycles back another 2,600 years to about 4,600 years BP.

    In the words of Thompson…

    One of the most important of the linked oceanic/atmospheric processes is the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). ENSO has two opposite phases, one marked by warming of the surface of the east equatorial Pacific Ocean (El Niño) (Fig. 3A) and the other by cooling in this region (La Niña). Very strong El Niños and La Niñas are responsible for severe meteorological disruptions (e.g. flooding, droughts, heat waves, blizzards) throughout much of the world.

    So has there been a general recurring 450 year cycle where either Nino or Nina predominate and does the charcoal indicate the possibility of a very nasty drought every 450 years or so? The most recent cycle according to the Peruvian data started in about 1450. Hopefully for Oz, it was the millenium drought of 1890/1900, or was it 2001 – 2008? Either way, it would be great if the next really nasty drought is far into the future.

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    Geoffrey Williams

    An interesting study of Australia some 4,000 years ago revealing that there is nothing new about fire and water, just an inconvenient truth !!
    GeoffW

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    observa

    Of course it was none other than Tim Flannery who came up with the theory of Megafires causing the extinction of our Megafauna.
    Well you can’t have idyllic aboriginal pedestal man causing extinction of fauna species like that as only white men do that which leaves Tim in a bit of a quandary naturally.

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      el gordo

      Flummery has egg on his face. Thanks for the link, a very intelligent conversation on the subject.

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    Bruce

    And, in a MUCH longer time frame, the Australasian Plate continues to wander north-west. It shoved Sumatra out of the way, with the “hinge-point” being the Sunda Strait, home of Krakatau / Anak Krakatau.

    Entire continents shuffle about as well as rising and falling, and subducting under one another. Ocean floor is being added to steadily by lava oozing up through rifts in the depths. This, along with circulating currents in the upper mantle,is what is driving the various plates. Ice Ages come and go; playing silly games, not only with “sea-level”, but with rainfall patterns. (Hint: Ice ages are very DRY times.)

    The BIG picture is a LOT bigger than the politically-driven one touted by the Gaia grovelers, who ALWAYS have a “solution” (sometimes a “final” one) in search of a “problem”.

    Then, there’s the occasional arrival of a stray comet or hyper-sonic “rock”, to reshuffle the deck. Ever wondered why the intact carcasses of Woolly Mammoths that are occasionally dug up in Siberia, are often found with a mouthful of their last meal? Being killed by a massive over-pressure / shock-wave, buried in the settling fine dust and snap-frozen withing a couple of hours will do that to you. No scavengers to nibble on the corpses, because they all demised in the same event.

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    Bruce

    Dryas-a Bone?

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