JoNova

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


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On cue — after droughts and fires, then come the floods

So much for the “hotter drier” future they were warning us about 3 weeks ago

As predicted, droughts in Australia often end in floods. It is the way it has always been. Today people are already being rescued from the rising water and possibly another 200 -300mm of rain may fall before Sunday warns the BOM. Many fires have been extinguished.

Climate change has made no difference to the drought trends in Australia in the last 178 years and climate models are totally skilless at rainfall. When will the climate modelers admit that these are natural cycles?

‘We’re only half way through’: East coast smashed by flashflooding and heavy winds

Forecasters become increasingly concerned that even more rain could fall even faster than expected as five people have been rescued from floods.

The NSW State Emergency Service issued a flood warning for Sydney’s metropolitan areas, saying forecast weather conditions were “likely to cause widespread flooding”.

Flooding has already occurred in Roseville in Sydney’s Upper North Shore and the north-western suburb of Putney, where commuters are advised to allow extra travel time.

Meteorologists have said they are increasingly worried about the unfolding weather events […]

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

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

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

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

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

Ten times the fuel means 100 times the intensity

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

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

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

Andrew Bolt interviewed fire expert David Packham in November:

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

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

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

It’s an arson epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

Fires are not where the heat is, they’re where the fuel is

A thread for those who are watching the fire crisis.

NSW Fires today Map Click to enlarge

Victorian fires, click to enlarge.

Fires flared again today in Australia, though have calmed in the last few hours. Outback NSW was wildly hot (Bourke and Ivanhoe reached 47C and 48C), but the fires are mostly in Alpine and SE coastal areas of Australia where temperatures ranged on Friday only up to maximums of 21C – 35C.

Fire conditions are bad tonight in NSW and Victoria. Cooler, but windier. Some gusts are up to 100km/hr. Rain has begun to fall in East Gippsland. Map details and links to updates are listed below. It’s obvious in the maps that massive areas of forest have already burned. The black areas on these maps are burnt, but not all to the same degree. The red areas on the NSW map look terrible but these are “potential spread areas”.

It’s not about the heat.

The fires are where the fuel loads are (and the arsonists and accidents).

9.4 out of 10 based on 88 ratings […]

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

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

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

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

Michael Mann — Climate Warlock downunder — coal mines cause wildfires 1,000 km away. Sees giant Petrostate Conspiracy

Rejoice Australia. The Star of Mann has crosseth The line of Capricorn. The great Prof has flown 10,000 miles to tell us “Australia is on fire”. Something only thirty million people knew already, including every Australian and the five million New Zealanders who can smell the smoke too.

According to Michael Mann, his plane causes bushfires, and he had to fly all the way to a nation on fire to tell them that.

Australia, your country is burning – dangerous climate change is here with you now

Michael Mann, The Guardian

Sadly, everything he knows about the Australian climate comes from a Midnight oil song:

When we mine for coal, like the controversial planned Adani coalmine, which would more than double Australia’s coal-based carbon emissions, we are literally mining away at our blue skies. The Adani coalmine could rightly be renamed the Blue Sky mine.

In Australia, beds are burning. …

Now we know why those models keep failing.

As he goes on to explain:

The songs of Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil I first enjoyed decades ago have taken on a whole new meaning for me now. They seem disturbingly […]

ABC deleting facebook posts on how protesters stop prescribed burns “more worried about climate change” than wildfires

Pandemonium in Australia: Seven people have died (this season) and in the last day or so another 176 houses were destroyed in the NSW fires. At least two more are missing. It is a surreal debacle on the East Coast. People are driving into lakes to save themselves and their cars. (See the whole video). Take your breath away. What a spectacle. They chainsawed trees to cut a path to the lake so they could drive in. 89 houses were lost in the town near here.

89 houses were lost in Lake Conjola township but a few saved their cars in the lake. (Image pieced together from the video pan)

Meanwhile, apparently the ABC is cleaning Facebook posts up where two locals of Nowa Nowa (East Gippsland) protested a few months ago and stopped a prescribed burn. One said she was “more worried about climate change”.

Could be a clue here about how the nation got its priorities so screwed?

Back in September ABC Gippsland put a story on Facebook about how locals were protesting the spring prescribed burns which were “killing baby birds alive”. The East Gippsland locals managed to stop the hazard reduction burns. We note also […]

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________ Fighting Fires with Fire

by Viv Forbes

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

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

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

Fires lit by aborigi

nal men […]

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

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

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

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

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

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