Australian Bushfire Crisis - Page 5 - Politics | PoFo

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colliric wrote:I stayed indoors myself.

Hope you and @ness31 are safe and this will pass soon.

colliric wrote:There's going to be a Federal Royal Commission and we all know it.

Which will presumably come to similar conclusions as all the previous ones, followed by similar levels of complacency after some time has passed.

Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC wrote:
To burn or not to burn?

13 May 2015

Prescribed burning taking place in NSW.

This article first appeared in the March-April 2015 edition of Wildfire. By Dr Richard Thornton, CEO of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC.

Australia has a long and continuing history of burning in its forests to reduce fuels and maintain biodiversity. However, the debate over prescribed burning targets has been an ongoing one for almost as long as the practice has been conducted, with parties on all sides of the debate quoting evidence both for more burning or less burning.

In more recent years the calls by both sides of the discussion have become louder and more polarised. Meanwhile, the complexity of the issue has actually grown. The number of people and businesses have grown in and around the previously empty forested regions; the impact of smoke is an issue; the management water catchments is important; there is now more scientific evidence on the benefits and downsides of various fire regimes; and the windows for undertaking prescribed burning have shrunk due to drought and climate change.

There is no universal ‘right’ level of prescribed fire because there are competing objectives to be considered, vastly differing ecosystems to be covered, and constantly shifting variables in demographics and land use. And even if you get all the objectives lined up you are still at the mercy of a fickle Australian weather system – too dry can be too dangerous to burn, too wet and little will burn.

And overlaying all of this are successive changes in governments at the local, state and national level – all with differing positions and varied appetites for land management policy. The list of public inquiries into these matters is long and goes back decades.

In August 2010, a national Inquiry by the Australian Senate described itself in its final report as the nineteenth major bushfire-related Inquiry to be conducted in Australia since 1939, and the third to be conducted federally since 2003. In evidence to the 2010 Inquiry Professor Peter Kanowski from the Australian National University (himself an author of the first national Inquiry in 2004) said that his Inquiry had identified...

‘….a repeated cycle of response by governments and the community to major fire events: first, suppression and recovery processes are always accompanied by assertions, accusations and allocations of blame, even while the fires are still burning; second, inquiries are established and report; third, recommendations are acted upon, to varying degrees; fourth, the passage of time sees growing complacency and reduced levels of preparedness... and the cycle begins again with the next major bushfire event….’

Following the devastating Black Saturday fires in Victoria in February 2009, the subsequent Royal Commission conducted the most comprehensive consideration of prescribed burning in southern Australia with a panel of scientific experts. Despite the members of this panel having a history of a range of views on fuel reduction, the panel achieved a rare consensus on the need for more prescribed burning. An agreed burning target of 5% was only to apply in the foothill forests. However, the final report of the Royal Commission recommended that Victoria commit to burning a rolling annual target of 5% across all public land – more on that later. Although this was a recommendation that was put only to the Victorian Government most other states are also considering it as a target.

After some particularly large and destructive fires in the karri and jarrah forests of Western Australia this past summer Senator Christopher Back rose in the Australian Parliament in February to state the logic in dramatically increasing the amount of hazard reduction burning:

The frustration comes due to the fact that we all know about the fire triangle. We all know that the three elements of bushfire and fire of any type are fuel, oxygen and a source of ignition. We know that lightning and humans are the main two causes—if not all causes—of ignition. We know we cannot do much about oxygen. Yet, we are continually confronted with this debate about fuel reduction. You cannot have a fire if you have not got the fuel.

The Senator’s sentiments are not universally accepted in Australia. With many prescribed burns now conducted close to the expanding urban fringe neighbourhoods and close to essential infrastructure and agriculture, the community tolerance levels are very low to heavy smoke and potential damage to delicate ecosystems. This has not been help by some significant escapes of prescribed burns which have caused extensive loss of houses and placed lives at risk. In particular an escaped prescribed burn near Margaret River in SW Western Australia in 2011 led to a complete ban on burning close to townships and caused the land management agency to completely rewrite its risk management processes.

Risk reduction

Setting a target, however, is not an end in itself. Australian ecosystems have evolved to need some level of fire, but the return and intensity level varies dramatically depending on the type of ecosystem.

Importantly, fire is applied to various ecosystems for other reasons than just fuel reduction. This may include the preservation of ecosystem values such as biodiversity, water yield, soil preservation and other objectives. As noted in the 2012 Victorian Code of Practice for Bushfire Management on Public Land:

There are two primary objectives for bushfire management on public land:

To minimise the impact of major bushfires on human life, communities, essential and community infrastructure, industries, the economy and the environment. Human life will be afforded priority over all other considerations.
To maintain or improve the resilience of natural ecosystems and their ability to deliver services such as biodiversity, water, carbon storage and forest products.

It would seem sensible to link the level of hazard reduction to the level of risk reduction of individual communities rather than just an arbitrary area-burnt target that is not linked to a prioritised objective. Without objective-based measures there is no answer to the question about what is the right amount of land to treat.

Having prioritised risk-based measures will enable the Government to weigh up various treatment options across multiple hazards. The alternative is to consider prescribed burning in isolation of all other options, which may result in perverse outcomes such as spending money chasing artificial targets for a minimal reduction in risk to the assets being protected. For example it may be better to focus on achieving fuel reduction around townships and key assets, rather than burning large remote areas. Although the area burnt will be much smaller in the former and the cost higher, the reduction of risk is higher. This, of course, will not aid the chasing of hectares-burnt totals.

Targets for hectares burnt each year do have some merit in providing tangible measures against which government departments can set budgets and measure accountabilities. But the targets should be tempered with a measure of how many houses and assets were actually protected.

Cross tenure issues

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission had a focus on the role that fuel levels on public land (mainly national parks and state forests) played on the fires of Black Saturday. It was almost entirely silent on the role of fuels on private land, despite the fact that most deaths and damage to private assets resulted from the fires traveling over private land. It would be wrong to assume that by setting targets only for public land that all the risks to people and property can be resolved. The idea that people should not consider the fuel levels on their own property and risk that it poses to themselves and others is inconsistent with the arguments and scientific evidence about the important role of fuels within 100 metres of properties and inconsistent with all notions of a “shared responsibility” when it comes to land management. Resident responsibility for their own land cannot be ignored simply because the government is treating the public land.

Of course, this responsibility is well accepted by many Australian landowners; many who vehemently berate local authorities for not respecting their side of the agreement with effective land management practices or not allowing targeted fuel reduction. This is also underpinned by council regulations, community messaging and enforcement. However, how to undertake prescribed burning on smaller properties remains a challenge, as well as the impacts of smoke from burns on community amenity and business operations, in particular the wine industry across Australia.

Local regulators and fire agencies understand that bushfires do not respect tenure boundaries and nor should a risk based consideration of community protection. It is important that the risk-based targets recognise the multiple players in land-management, and that the government alone should not be solely responsible for the risk treatments.

Limits to burn targets

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and its predecessor the Bushfire CRC as well as many other Australian research organisations have accumulated decades of research into the bushfire hazards faced by Australian communities. Much research has been conducted on prescribed burning that includes a cost-benefit analysis of the risk, the economics of burning, the environmental impacts across varied types of landscapes, and the acceptance of prescribed burning by rural and interface communities.

It is important that whatever burning targets are in place are based on the best available evidence and scientific research. They should be measurable, achievable and articulated in such a way that the community can understand their residual risk.

And this residual risk must be accepted by the community and by governments - no hazard reduction target will reduce the risk to zero.

Fuel reduction can decrease fire intensity, flame height and the forward rate of spread. But the effectiveness of this reduction is strongly dependent on the weather conditions that prevail on the day they are impacted by a wildfire. On extreme high- temperature and high-wind days like Black Saturday, the effectiveness of most prescribed burning on stopping runs of large fires will be minimal because medium and long range spotting will see these areas overrun. However, the fuel levels around properties and communities can make a significant difference to the intensity of the fire as it impacts private and public assets.

Meanwhile, as the debate still rages and inquiries continue in Australia over the merits and timing of prescribed burning, many local land management authorities are just getting on with the job - and dealing with the equal mix of complaints and praise on a daily basis. In March in Victoria, as yet another government inquiry into prescribed burning – this one by the Inspector General for Emergency Management - closed its call for public submissions, the local land management agency was taking advantage of the mild temperatures and slight winds to reduce the fuel loads. As it communicated the risks on social media platforms, community reaction was a predictable mix of praise and scorn:

So who is monitoring the air pollution? Lots of people of Warburton are leaving for the day due to serious smoke exposure

Burns my eyes and gives me a sore throat when burn offs are done near my home.

(Posts to Facebook page of Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)

Politics_Observer wrote:It's amazing for me to see after all these bushfires that Australia still seems to have all these climate change deniers. Wheeew! :lol: It take some serious self deception to keep up that level of denial. And I thought we had problems here in America. Of course, there is plenty of climate change deniers across the globe. Eventually, they are going to have to face the facts that climate change is a reality and not a "hoax." Unless, of course, they don't mind having their whole way of life just burn up in flames due to climate change.

What would have been different with respect to the current or past bushfires without these climate change deniers in your opinion?

As a side note, when you say climate change denier I take it to mean people who question the extent of the contribution of CO2 to climate change rather than people who deny that the climate changes (the latter are virtually non-existent as far as I can tell).
Kaiserschmarrn wrote:Hope you and @ness31 are safe and this will pass soon.

Thankyou. It’s much better today.

Looks like some of our firefighters have showed up in Australia to help our mates! Glad to see our firefighters helping Australia fight the bushfires! ... index.html
Politics_Observer wrote:Looks like some of our firefighters have showed up in Australia to help our mates! Glad to see our firefighters helping Australia fight the bushfires!

Yes, I saw the video of their arrival at the airport earlier today. It's nice to see other countries sending help.
Damn, I was hoping my picture of Rain clouds pelting buckets of rain down in Melbourne would get a "see how bad your smoke is" bite.....


No one took the bait.

Seriously, Melbourne has been pelted with rain the last two days. I recon Chile got more "Bushfire smoke" issues than we did. The wind is blowing the smoke North-east and off the coast. Melbourne is clear air as shit.

You wouldn't think there's Bushfires if it wasn't on the news everywhere.

Victoria is forecast to have a full week and a half of rainy days. For us at least, the crisis is now ending.
I was looking at the rain forecast on Friday and it looked like there should be at least some rain in Victoria and the southwest. Next week should bring some relief to other regions of Australia as well, e.g. Wednesday:

Fingers crossed this is correct.

They need a very heavy rainfall non-stop 6 month monsoon season over ALL of Australia to bring relief to that place.
Politics_Observer wrote:They need a very heavy rainfall non-stop 6 month monsoon season over ALL of Australia to bring relief to that place.

Not really. The rainfall (and cooler temperatures) will almost certainly ease the situation. It will also help fire fighters to slow and control existing fires.

Of course, it's possible that it will get worse again afterwards, but for the time being it should bring relief.
It won't get worse.... Not our first time around, this is our "usual" natural disaster. There's nothing left to burn really. This is how Bushfire disasters always go. Now there will still be fires but won't be as intense.

This crisis is finally subsiding. But probably take another month to fully die.

The clean up and investigations are already beginning.
colliric wrote:It won't get worse.... Not our first time around, this is our "usual" natural disaster.

I doubt this is usual. This seems unusually long and unusually destructive.

There's nothing left to burn really. This is how Bushfire disasters always go. Now there will still be fires but won't be as intense.

This crisis is finally subsiding. But probably take another month to fully die.

The clean up and investigations are already beginning.

Again, I doubt this is how bushfires “always go”.
The worst bushfire in modern Australian history doesn’t lend itself to the idea that everything is the same as it always was. Why suddenly such a wide scale fire? This sense of things being the same old doesn’t abide with the sense of things being unprecedented in their severity and prevalence. The same old wouldn’t be so noteworthy to Australia and the world, it would be just another bushfire as the many that have happened through the century.

Just on the face of it, ones notion contradicts the very appearance of things which suggests to make sense of such a position one would have to eschew their senses and trust words independent their connection to the reality.

A better case would be argued for this being anomalous rather than the same old thing but this would raise questions of what made this an anomaly/different? And as an anomaly is it the case this isn’t to be expected in the future? Well the attempts to frame its severity in terms of a lack of control burns and arson seems to be lacking comparatively to the facts about the dryness and heat that made the bush so easily lit. Which itself has some facts of reaching incredible temperatures that exceed previous years in temperature and duration. Can’t say i was one to harp on about climate/weather but the effort in trying to avoid the facts about the weather and its relation to global climate phenomenon just seems like sticking ones head in the sand.

Would be on stronger ground attempting to deny climate change being a result of human activity in this case rather than to ignore it outright.
colliric wrote:It won't get worse.... Not our first time around, this is our "usual" natural disaster. There's nothing left to burn really. This is how Bushfire disasters always go. Now there will still be fires but won't be as intense.

Colliric, I think you have demonstrated that this was one of the least climate-change-related disasters of our lifetime.


1. There was a big bushfire in the 1850s, so this isn't climate-change related.

2. Some people were arrested for arson on the news, so this isn't climate-change related.

3. Removing underbrush might have helped, so this isn't climate-change related.

4. It's raining now - I think I'll make myself a cup o tea, so this isn't climate-change related.
I wonder for how long the deniers together with their corporate bots and trolls can peddle their lies.

The facts are:

- the fires are the worst in history,
- the fires are directly related to man-made climate change,
- it will get worse in the future as temperatures increase,
- nature will not rebound as conditions deteriorate.

Scientists paint Australia fires as red alert on climate change

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With the sky outside a menacing red, Nerilie Abram’s family is staying inside, with the windows shut and curtains drawn at their home in Canberra, Australia’s smoke-choked capital.

On their return from recent holiday travels, “the kids didn’t want us to open the curtains because outside it looked scary,” said the climate scientist at the Australian National University.

Family friends who struggle with asthma have left town, she said, and most residents who do venture outside wear disposable masks - though the city, which had the world’s worst air quality for several days in the past week, is running out of those.

“We’re been really caught off-guard by these fires,” said Abram, a professor who works with the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes.

“Scientifically, it’s not surprising. We totally expected that as the climate warmed, fires in Australia would get worse. But the scale of this disaster is something I couldn’t have imagined, and it’s the same for a lot of people in Australia.”

Large swathes of the country are battling wildfires that have killed 27 people and torched more than 10 million hectares (25 million acres) in the wake of the southern-hemisphere nation’s hottest and driest year on record.

The ferocious, fast-moving blazes have consumed about 2,000 homes, blanketed major cities from Sydney to Melbourne in thick smoke, killed an estimated billion animals, and pushed exhausted firefighters to their limits.

And while summer bushfires are nothing new in Australia, scientists say these are different.

Their scale and ferocity raise questions about how nature will recover - and the fires are now affecting a much higher percentage of Australia’s population, they say.

In the well-populated southeast, nearly a third of people are estimated to have been directly affected by this season’s fire and smoke.

In a nation of just 25 million, “most people know someone who’s been affected”, said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

That may have political implications in a country that less than a year ago elected a conservative coalition government with close ties to the powerful coal industry and a record of dismissing action on climate change as too costly.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been verbally abused while visiting fire-hit areas after returning from an ill-timed Hawaii holiday, with angry residents saying his government has done too little to respond and prevent damage.

“People are deeply affected,” said Joe Fontaine, a lecturer in environmental science at Murdoch University in Perth, noting “a deep sense of loss and anxiety in society”.

But it was “a little too early” to tell if the bushfire crisis was shifting views on climate change, he added.


Australia’s brutal fire season stems from a confluence of threats, scientists say.

Climate change is generally causing a long-term trend toward hotter and drier conditions, while Abram said shifts in clouds and winds are gradually driving winter rain toward Antarctica.

And, this season, unusual cold in the eastern Indian Ocean has cut off moisture moving to Australia.

All that adds up to an extremely dangerous fire season - but it may not be the “new normal” some have dubbed it, she said.

Not every year will be this bad, Abram said, although future years could possibly be much worse.

This season’s runaway fires have occurred at 1.1 degrees Celsius of global warming compared to pre-industrial times.

However, the world is on track for more than 3 degrees of warming, even if current commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change are met.

We’re on an upward trajectory,” Abram said. “How bad is this going to get? How bad are we willing to let it get?

Perkins-Kirkpatrick’s husband, a volunteer firefighter and former army firefighter, said the color of ash on the ground and dripping aluminium from melted car parts point to higher-than-usual temperatures in this season’s fires.

Those, and the rising frequency of bushfires in some areas, could make recovery increasingly difficult for Australia’s normally resilient forests, scientists predict.

“I’m sceptical that we will see things return to the way they were,” Fontaine said.

Those who argue nature will bounce back because Australia is fire-prone are “overlooking the interaction with climate change”, he said.

Some iconic Australian tree and plant species, like banksias with their flower spikes, may be on their way to disappearing as they struggle with more heat, drought and fires, he said.

Wildlife experts also estimate that as many as 30% of the country’s koalas could have died in the blazes.

The widespread destruction of this season’s fires similarly is expected to have implications for Australia’s insurance and tourism industries, as well as for healthcare.

Extended smoke and fire exposure may spur lingering physical and mental health problems, doctors and scientists fear.

But whether those impacts will pressure politicians to take significant action on climate change remains in doubt, they said.

Previous dire warnings about climate change risks to the Great Barrier Reef had not worked, Abram said.

“I hope this (fire) threat affecting such a large proportion of the Australian population will be the catalyst to really take this seriously,” she said.

“That could be one of the only positive things that comes out of this experience - if it’s that wake-up call to see what climate change looks like.”
Pants-of-dog wrote:I doubt this is usual. This seems unusually long and unusually destructive.

Again, I doubt this is how bushfires “always go”.

Dickheads I'm simply saying we appear to be over the hump/peak.

But whatever. ... d53f49fb3e

This is how Bushfire disasters usually begin ending...
colliric wrote:Dickheads

I have no idea why you think it is all right to try to insult people.

I'm simply saying we appear to be over the hump/peak.

But whatever.

So you agree that this fire is not normal in terms of its severity and length of time? ... d53f49fb3e

This is how Bushfire disasters usually begin ending...

Now that the fires have killed most of the plant life, heavy rains could result in a lot of erosion and mudslides, since the roots will no longer hold the soil together.
Pants-of-dog wrote:I have no idea why you think it is all right to try to insult people.

Australians have a very vigilante culture of militarism against ethnics (they killed their way right through the continenent without mixing with the locals at all).

So why you would except anything other than hazing and social awkwardness from this kind of history... is because you are also in denial about the side effects of this kind of history.
Technically we inherited this culture from the British. So I guess you can blame them.

In Melbourne there's a >1% population of Aboriginals. Lowest City population in the country. There's more Jews in Melbourne than there is Aboriginals.

Not something I'm proud of, I wish Melbourne had more genuine locals. I hate it when people say "Melbourne is becoming more multicultural".... No it's not. The population is generally rising. But still the same demographics crap really.

That's why I always get pissed off at Millenials and their "Recognise the traditional owners" guilt trip. The Traditional Owners are all dead, and the majority of the current Aboriginal population in Melbourne came from Interstate. It's shameful. Millenial Melbournians are flat out racist against Aboriginals and would oppose the Aboriginal population increasing(even to just 2%) and everyone else knows it.

Instead of "recognising" Melbourne should seek to flat out increase its Aboriginal population even if we have to draw them from interstate. It's embarrassing to me that this city has the lowest percentage.
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