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a new bush fire regime? « Previous | |Next »
October 22, 2013

We need to listen to what the firefighters are saying about the NSW bushfires in the Blue Mountains and earlier.

The former rural fire services commissioner Phil Koperberg says this kind of fire emergency in October is unprecedented:

It's not the worst, but it is the earliest. We have never had this in October. This is a feature of slowly evolving climate. We have always had fires, but not of this nature, and not at this time of year, and not accompanied by the record-breaking heat we've had

They are saying that these are the most sudden, rapidly spreading and ferocious fires they have encountered. They are saying that we are beginning to see the earlier onset of severe fire weather in the fire seasons and longer fire seasons.

MOirAFirefighters.jpg Alan Moir

In contrast, the conservatives are saying that the prevalence of fires is not out of the ordinary, that fire activity in recent years is within the bounds of normal. They are basically denying that the behaviour of the NSW fires and the one in Dunalley Tasmania is different from the ordinary bushfire. Their suggestion to stop fires is for more cutting down the trees around houses, more hazard reduction burning and fuel-load management, and allowing grazing leases on crown lands and national parks.

Though no specific incident like the NSW fires can be unequivocally attributed to climate change we can’t just consider severe fires as one-offs that happen every few decades. Climate science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency. The inference is that climate change will make disastrous events like the NSW fires more likely. It's the new normal.

If they’re becoming a systemic part of our environment, then we have to consider this really seriously and accept that the standard response of prepare and rebuild belongs to the older fire regime. Australia is vulnerable to climate change.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:49 AM | | Comments (33)


The conservative case is simple;

What is happening in NSW is exactly what happens every 10 or 20 years, right back to 1915 "If you have lots of . . . fire fuel you will have lots of unpleasant fire.

Any attempt to link the NSW fire disaster with global warming was "nonsense" because climate change was incremental and could not be blamed for dire fire events such as this.

Meteorologists have forecast an increased number of heatwaves and thunderstorms that could potentially spark further bushfires. They say that we've just had our hottest summer on record for Australia, our hottest 12-month period on record and our hottest September on record. They don't expect average or below-average temperatures anywhere around the country during summer.

It was over six years ago that Australia was warned by the IPCC that one consequence of climate change is an increase in extreme events, including fires. Bushfires will be likely to occur more often, be more severe and harder to extinguish.

We are currently experiencing severe bushfires.

Adam Bandt and the Greens have forced a discussion of climate change and its consequences back into Australian political discourse

The conservatives response to the Greens was that also to say that no-one should politicise these bushfires; and that now is not the right to talk about the consequences of climate change.

This is a political argument itself as it is an argument for the status quo in a time when the status quo is being changed because of the consequences of climate change.

Sounds like all the scietific evidence about cholesterol is about to be thrown in the toilet. Or maybe they will put it in a rocket and shoot it through the ozone layer into a black hole. Hopefully it will miss the cow.

"Any attempt to link the NSW fire disaster with global warming was "nonsense" because climate change was incremental and could not be blamed for dire fire events such as this."

Everyone knows the Abbott Government is resisting action on climate change. These conservative politicians say they accept the climate science (even when they don't) and then argue that Australia should act slowly and cautiously and not before the world does.

In other words, say the right things but don't take much action.

Conservative politicians cannot allow the linking of climate and bush fires. It is scary territory for the vested economic interests they defend---the interests that just want to sell coal, produce energy with coal-fired power stations and dam the consequences.

"the conservatives are saying that the prevalence of fires is not out of the ordinary, that fire activity in recent years is within the bounds of normal."

Climate science says that we are increasing global average temperatures, which increases the frequency and intensity of events such as bush fires.

In other words global warming causes fires. What has always been stated it creates the conditions which cause more intense fires and increases the window in which these occur.

South-east Australia has seen a temperature change of about 0.8C when temperatures before 1996 and after 1997 we compared We know that it got drier after 1997 too.

This increases the fire danger.

Therefore fire and climate change are linked.

The conservative position has been put by Abbott:

Fire is part of the Australian experience … it has been since humans were on this continent. Climate change is real … but these fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they are just a function of life.

Abbott says that those who link climate change and bush fires, like Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, are talking through their hat.

What Abbott has done is dismiss out of hand the work of scientists going back more than 25 years showing that as temperatures and carbon dioxide emissions go up, so do the risks of bushfires.

To so firmly state that bush fires are not linked to climate change in the face of so much evidence to the contrary, suggests denial. Abbott is a climate change denialist.

In october last year it was snowing in the blue mountains.

It's all the fault of those illegal arrivals I tells ya!!

what has that particular weather event got to do with the long term climate trends?

When will the tipping point be reached when the costs of such extreme weather events will outstrip the profits gained from burning fossil fuels.

Climate Change creates unexpected extreme weather conditions. It can mean snow storms in areas not associated with snow and extreme heat where warmth is not experienced

The clearly stated symptoms of AGW are ‘unpredictable’ climate fluctuations called ‘climate change’. That is, climate variations that do not sit in with previous extended climate records, and are hence ‘unpredictable’.
That is, longer dryer spells than normal, heavier rainfall than normal, and both with more intensity than normal. Now again its a no brainer that a heavier and longer downpour
is going to create more plant growth. Following this by a longer, or more intense dry period will create more dry leaf and grass matter.

"In october last year it was snowing in the blue mountains."

Turner you are not denying that increased temperatures are causing more severe fires? Surely not.

Hot weather does cause fires. So does lightning,smokers,kids,loonies,accidents and many other things.
I doubt whether any insurance claims for fires have ever been paid with cause of fire "global warming "on it.
Hotter weather causes more fires and makes it more difficult to put out. Yes Jeffrey that's true.
Can I just add that there are millions of people all over the world that attribute natural disasters to god and they pray for it to end.

In over fifty and some things still manage to amaze me.

For example... one day last month I was able to do up my leather belt one notch tighter than usual. Conclusive proof that, after years of bad eating and middle-age spread... I am actually getting thinner!

...I doubt whether any insurance claims for fires have ever been paid with cause of fire "global warming "on it...

SCORE! Oh HELL YEH, Turner!!! BAM! Go for it!!! BOOYAH!

Seriously mate... are you this much of a stubborn, hopeless tool in real life? Or is that a persona you save just for us????

Insurance companies... and the rest of us have nothing to worry about, right? WRONG!!

Ohh... oops... haha sorry... The Vancouver Observer??!??!? Gosh. they're about as credible as the Financial Times...

Savvy mate? Oh... please don't tell your tory mates.

it's not the ignition of the bush fire that is the issue. There are multiple kinds of ignition--you missed cigarette smokers tossing their butts out the window of a car.

What the scientific community says is that when the temperature goes up, and when the vegetation and soils dry out, then wildfires become more pervasive and more dangerous.

Is it correct to say that denial of Climate Science is a conservative position? One imagines it is not the position of LNP supporters, particularly the "country party" component, since increasing temperatures are expected to reduce agricultural productivity, among other impacts. I anticipate this political division will become an increasing problem as Abbott Government blunders on in denial and belligerence.

Australia is particularly vulnerable to more deaths from heat-related stress and bushfires as temperatures continue to rise.

"Is it correct to say that denial of Climate Science is a conservative position?"

Climate change marked a fault line within the Coalition as signified by the Abbott v Turnbull conflict. One side is Conservative the other side is liberal

Well as God created the world then it follows that God has an input into the climate. I think lots of climate enthusiasts are trying to do Gods work and their time would be better spent in church or doing good deeds on a local level.

Oh my goodness.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has hosed down suggestions of a link between climate change and increased bushfire intensity. His reason for this claim is that he had ''looked up what Wikipedia'' said and it was clear that bushfires in Australia were frequent events that had occurred during hotter months since before European settlement.

Climate change is known to alter the likelihood of increased wildfire sizes and frequencies. This suggests an increasing likelihood of more prevalent fire disturbances, as has recently been observed by the Tasmanian and NSW bushfires.

so the end days---"the time of the end"--- are here. We are in God’s End Times”

The problem here is conflating long-term climate change with short-term weather events.

It is not possible to say whether one large bushfire or drought is due to climate change, but only that they are consistent with a trend where such events become more probable.

The Institute of Public Aaffairs (IPA) has been at the heart of climate denial in Australia since it began. It is a free market think tank, at times heavily funded by the fossil fuel industry and big resource industries and with strong links to the Australian Liberal Party.

Lenore Taylor highlights the Coalition's straw man strategy:

The straw man is the contention that anyone making a perfectly reasonable and scientifically justifiable point – that climate change is likely to cause a higher prevalence of the weather conditions that pose a bushfire risk – has actually been making the unreasonable and scientifically unjustifiable point that climate change has caused a particular fire.

She reckons the Coalition is constructing a straw man to help it fight the potentially big political problem of rising public concern about climate change and scrutiny of its Direct Action policy.

no I think not but I am not operating the organ.

Turner... by "organ", you mean brain, right?