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Climate Change made the fires worse?

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by Ktulu, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. Interesting articles in the news today...
    Transformer mentioned this one in the "consequences of..." thread.

    First, of course - Tim Flannery writes that it is all the greenhouses gases that have reduced our rainfall; making the fire danger so bad here.
    His conclusion: we must do MORE to reduce emissions and greenhouse gases, or we will have more and worse fires in the future.

    A quote from the article
    THEN we have Miranda Devine writing that the fires were so deadly because 'Greenies' (lobby groups and councils) have so successfully prevented people from clearing trees and vegetation from around their homes.

    A quote from the article

    Bush fires are a fact of life in Australia. They have always happened. Whether deliberately lit, accidentally lit, or as a product of nature: we have bush, and every so often; it burns.

    I think if I was in the situation of knowing the fires were coming, I wouldn't be outside my house with a garden hose: I would be out there with a rake and a chainsaw, taking as much fuel as I can and moving it as far away from my house as possible..
    Were the aesthetics or shaky-science crew to interrupt me with some sort of threat of fines for what I was doing; I would politely tell them that if they love these types of trees so f***ing much, they should go hug one of the ones on the other side of the ridge... it wouldd be a very warm hug.

    Here is another quote from Tim Flannery's article
    I think Kevin Rudd is wrong.
    If I were to modify his sentiment slightly, I think it would be more correct.
    IF climate change is the real result of carbon dioxide; then climate change may be the greatest threat facing the human race. But the greatest threat facing humanity (where "humanity" is the quality or condition of being human) is the climate change specific environmental movement.

    Some of you may have picked up my thoughts on the truth or reality of 'climate change', but: My skepticism aside I am entirely in favour of alternative fuels, renewable resources, and the reduction->elimination of pollutants - and I think the technology to achieve those things should be worked towards: grants, funding, big breakthroughs that will make a real difference.
    But this 'micromanagement', 'you can make a difference' stuff, is IMO a steaming pile of shit.

    ... and now it's gotten people killed.

    I'm sure Tim Flannery would abhore the notion that his ideals have contributed to the deaths in Victoria. Many people would say he bears no blame either. However, as a well published scientist and champion of the climate change philosophy, it is a fact that he was worked hard to fashion a very attractive ball to pass on to others.

    :arrow: and idiots have picked it up to run with it.

  2. Did climate change cause or significantly contribute to these particular fires? We can't know. It's exactly the same as the people saying 'it's snowing in England, there's no climate change'. There's lots of natural variation in weather and it can obscure the larger patterns.

    But the point Flannery makes is that climate change leads to long term patterns of more extreme weather. That is the prediction, and it's being borne out by experience. The fires alone we can't ascribe to climate change, the north Qld floods likewise, the snow in parts of the US and Europe that never get snow the same, and so on. But when *all* these extreme weather events are happening all at the same time? There's something up.

    You've conflated two separate things, Ktulu, climate change and forestry practices. I agree that only loons would limit burning off based on fears about climate change: burning off is a crucial part of the balance that allows humans to live in Australia.

    But was it lack of burning off that caused this extreme devastation? Or was it record temperatures in the high 40s and 100 km/h winds? Some of each, no doubt, but my money is definitely on the latter predominating.

    And those are exactly the kind of extreme weather conditions that would be expected to be more frequent in a climate change scenario.
  3. But this is were we are being fooled. The media says that this is the case with so called man made climate change, but when you actually research and look at the theories on this subject. Zero percent of all the "markers" that the climate expert nuts are on about have been demonstrated, not one. Each and every time you drill into the data, there is not one instance of a repeatable set of variables that they can reliably point to.

    Just look: Arctic sea ice has increased by 12% from 2007 (this was supposed to be the canary in the mine marker) - Fail, Upper troposhere heating should be now 10 degrees warmer by all the climate models. Its actually cooler - Fail, All the models disregard the carbon sink where they don't model over 80% of the CO2 "uncertian processes". - Fail. The list goes on.

    I agree with Ktulu. We are being sold a pup, and its all heading towards a form of social gloablism, where the threat of artifical terrorism and artifical climate influences by man are used to beat us into submission!
  4. Devine's assertion is that we have allowed climate change to influence good forestry practices too much. I agree.
    I have not fused the ideas into a special little militant ball of generalised Ktulu hatred - legislating the protection of trees has prevented people being able to take all good, right and sensible steps to protect their home from a fire.

    This is a quote from the 2nd article
    Let us say there was even a miniscule 2% decrease in the fire's severity and the damage it caused... that would be 4 people still alive.
    My maths is not perfect, but I think if the fire only had a quarter of the ground fuel; the flames would have been far far less intense than they were.

    I don't think we care about the frequency of sever fires, Bravus.
    Honestly: they've always happened and they will always happen.
    No-one will go "Oh, my house burnt down. Lucky this only happens once every 20 years thanks to all that carbon tax I pay."

    Even if our weather had stayed perfectly static for the last thousand years; good forestry practice and home protection against fire in Australia is critical for preserving property and lives.
    The green lobby has harmed those practices.
  5. Fight the system.

    Can I also say that I really, really want to bed Miranda Divine?

    Continue onwards.
  6. I don't think I'd rely on Ms Devine as an authority on anything much, apart from getting paid far too much to write copious volumes of right wing tosh.

    Frankly I've no idea whether climate change itself contributed to the fires or not. It's very dangerous to extrapolate the general from the particular.

    However, Devine and many of her fellow columnists have a long history of pinning the blame for any negative event on one of a predictable list of enemies of society, whether it be greenies, socialists, public servants or Muslims, regardless of what the facts of the matter may be.

    I've read enough material elsewhere to be reasonably confident that any contribution by misguided forestry practices was negligible. No greenies can be blamed for Black Friday as they didn't really exist in 1939. Come to that, the green movement hadn't really got rolling seriously in 1983 either, so Ash Wednesday would be difficult to lay at their door. Or Dwellingup in the 60s.
  7. Before you go off half-cocked railing against the greenies, you need to get some facts about what has ACTUALLY been happening in Victoria in regard to forest management and fire planning.

    The truth is that DSE and the fire agencies have for a good while now known that earlier policies where dangerous and needed to be changed. As long ago as Ash Wednesday, the need for burning off has been recognised, and after the 2005 and 2006 fires, a BIG program of controlled burns has been in place, including parks and reserves. That was with the full agreement of the major environment groups down here, too.

    The problem has been that for nearly ten years now it has been very difficult to get these burns done safely. The bush has been too dry for too long a period of the year. This has limited the opportunities to reduce fuel without starting wildfires. What could be done, generally, has been done, within the limits of the resources available.

    It might be fair to say that more could have got done if the government had thrown more resources at it, and that probably true (as it is of many things). But it's wrong to say that the policy of fuel reduction has been ignored because of Green concerns. I would like to hear some more about this from the Netriders who are professionally involved, but I know most (ie. Forester_neil) may be too busy right now to spare us the time.

    On Monday morning I heard Wilson Tuckey trying to tell people that the problem was pretty much entirely caused by greenies convincing the authorities to allow too many National Parks and reserves. The gist was that if there were no forests there would be no fires. He'd just log the bloody lot.

    But remember that it was nature that drew many of the residents to come and live in these areas in the first place.

    Tim Flannery and many others were saying what they did about fire a long time before this happened, but it doesn't matter. The argument about whether greenhouse gases caused the drying that caused the fires is to a large extent irrelevant. Whatever caused it, the bush has gotten drier. What you do about that once it has happened is the ONLY issue that we have any control over in the short term. We know what to do - we just haven't gotten it done yet.
  8. I disagree with Devine 90% of the time, and i for the most part disagree with her this time.

    I think people are looking for something to blame - that is human nature. But the reality is that we live in a hot climate, with vegetation and landscape which is characterised by fire. Some of our plants only germinate after fire, showing how closely linked it is to our country.

    As i understand it, unusually heavy rains in spring led to high plant growth, and unusually low rains in summer led to much of that growth dying off and providing fuel for the fire. This is hardly the fault of the greens. They are as much to blame for the fires in victoria as they are for the floods in queensland (ie not at all).

    These fires were BIG BIG BIG, and worse than I have ever seen. I was in the Rural fire service when I lived up the coast, and have also been in the position of getting personal belongings together ready to run in the event that our precautions (filling up the gutters with water etc etc) didn't hold out when the fires came. Thankfully, I've never been in the position of having to run, but I understand the risk that fire poses in rural / semi-rural areas.

    BUT to say it is the greenies fault is balls. I liken it to going on a shark killing spree after a shark attack. Fire is part of our landscape, it is managed by the RFS through back burning and clearing. People live in the bush to enjoy it, not to cut it down. This is a tragedy, there is no mistake about that, but this was a BIG fire unlike anything anyone had seen. Sure, they may do a bit of a revamp of laws permitting trees to be cleared near property after this shocking episode, but blaming the greenies for keeping trees is just a bit cukoo.

    Devine is a hack at the best of times and loves to point the finger at something (usually a left wing, non-conservative interest group or a downtrodden minority). I struggle to take what she says seriously.
  9. Well one things for sure, planning laws need to be changed, particularly with respect to clearing of land within these areas. Imagine getting $100,000 in fines and legal fees because you responsibly make a fire break on your property - that ends up saving your house. Only allowed to clear trees within six metres of the property? What good would that have done in this situation?

    Fined for illegal clearing, family now feel vindicated
  10. We are just entering our 12th year of drought here in Victoria.
    Since 1860, we have had two 15 year droughts, A few ten year droughts,
    And quite a lot of 7 year droughts, These are all documented.
    But you listen to all these boffins, and they are saying we are breaking all time weather and drought records, when in fact we are not, All these high temps and droughts and fires have occured before, here in Victoria, they are not something new, they are a part of our way of life here. We just have to live with these dangers of our particularly lovely piece of the planet.
    If these boffins actually check the records, they would find that their rantings would be discredited severley.
    So in another three years, if the drought continues, whoopee, we will actually be starting to break drought records here in Victoria.
    I personally can remember when the temperature was 110 - 113 degrees farenheiht for days as a kid. the pain of two inch blisters and severe sunburn, and being covered in Calamine lotion,
    We didn't have sunscreen back then,
    Just a bit of info for you all, from some one that was there back then.
  11. What I've never understood is the contradiction with regard to our policies on fire prevention.

    The environmentalists are reluctant to permit burning. This is for all manner of reasons, all of them well founded. Yet we also strive to put out fires whenever they occur, despite them being part of the natural fabric of the Australian bush. So we can't burn off to reduce fuel loads, yet we attempt to put out any fires when they occur naturally.

    The contradiction is that we strive to conserve the environment and retain its natural balance, yet then stop that balance taking place when we have natural (or seasonal) fires.

    We then rail against the greens when people are refused permission to clear around their house. But if everyone who lived in a fire prone area cleared sufficient trees and bush to create an effective fire break, there'd be so little bush left (in that area) that the very reason for the desire to live in that location is diminished.

    I am still unsure about how much additional controlled burns would have helped. The forests are huge and surely, unless you're going to burn the whole thing, are you not trying to do the equivalent of pushing shit up a hill?
  12. I'd be interested to see what you guys think about this story, to me it seems like the councils main concern according to this article is aethestics, backed up by claims from the greens, ignored by fire experts.


    THE shire council covering some of the areas hit hardest by the bushfires was warned five years ago that its policy of encouraging people to grow trees near their homes to give the appearance of a forest would lead to disaster.

    One of Australia's leading bushfire experts, Rod Incoll, warned Nillumbik Shire Council in a 2003 report that it risked devastation if it went ahead with changes to planning laws proposed by green groups that restricted the removal of vegetation.

    Mr Incoll, the Victorian fire chief from 1990 to 1996, and David Packham, a former CSIRO bushfire scientist and academic who also produced a report on the issue, argued against the regulations, which actively encouraged the builders of new homes to plant trees around the houses for aesthetic reasons.

    Mr Incoll told The Australian yesterday the proposed planning rules were "foolhardy and dangerous and ought not to be proceeded with".

    "But they were nevertheless instituted," he said. "That is certainly one of the things that people will be looking at as an aftermath of this tragic event."

    Mr Packham, now an honorary senior research fellow at Monash University's school of geography and environmental science, wrote in his report, after inspecting the Kinglake to Heidelberg Road: "The mix of fuel, unsafe roadsides and embedded houses, some with zero protection and no hope of survival, will all ensure that when a large fire impinges upon the area a major disaster will result."

    Mr Incoll said that in 2003, green groups were pushing for changes to planning laws that included restrictions on the removal of vegetation, "and worse still, the requirement for planting vegetation around and almost over houses, as part of any planning permit to build a house in the shire of Nillumbik, so it gave the appearance from the outside of being a forest".

    In 2003, the Nillumbik Ratepayers Group asked Mr Incoll to assess the bushfire risk, and the proposed planning rules.

    Council elections were looming, and planning was a major issue. "The green group carried the day in council and the rules came to pass," he said.

    Nillumbik Shire councillors, many of whom were last night attending community meetings across the region, declined to comment.

    The councillors said it would be inappropriate to speak about a six-year-old report when bushfires were still raging in the area and a royal commission had been announced.

    Nillumbik shire calls itself the "green wedge shire". It extends from the Yarra River, on the northwest outskirts of Melbourne to Kinglake National Park. Its villages include Eltham, Hurstbridge, St Andrews, Strathewen and the outskirts of Kinglake.

    Mr Incoll and Mr Packham both produced reports for the group. "There was a planning process under the auspices of the state planning authority, and David (Packham) and I gave lengthy evidence," Mr Incoll said.

    "They took no notice whatsoever of what we said."

    The reports on Nillumbik shire were not the first to warn of the increased bushfire risk associated with failing to manage vegetation around towns.

    Victoria's auditor-general warned 17 years ago that a failure to carry out controlled burn-offs placed the state at risk of bushfires. In a 1992 report to parliament, the auditor-general criticised the Department of Conservation and Environment for letting combustible material build up on the forest floor.

    "The failure of the department to achieve its planned fuel reduction burns each year has resulted in an increasing accumulation of fuel on forest floors," the report stated. "This makes Victoria's forests and protected lands more susceptible to the occurrence offires."

    The report said the department was not burning in "priority1 zones" because they were too close to houses".

    "Those areas warranting the highest level of protection to human life, property and public assets had in fact received the lowest level of protection," it said.

    The auditor-general's audit found "fuel loads" of combustible material on the forest floors in the range of 20 to 60 tonnes a hectare in the Alexandra and Orbost regions and at Blackwood near Geelong - seven times higher than the department's target.

    Mr Incoll said the CSIRO had put out excellent plain-English publications on building safety standards for bushfire-prone areas and that the Country Fire Authority was doing a good job of public education. After the Ash Wednesday fires, fire researcher Andrew Wilson had produced the CSIRO House Survival Meter, a simple calculator to determine the chances of a house surviving a bushfire.

    "That, plus the CSIRO information, plus the CFA information, should have and would have been sufficient to prevent most of these unfortunate deaths. It falls down somewhere around the implementation," Mr Incoll said.

    He said one of the commonsense rules was not having a tree within a tree height and a half from the house - about 50m.

    "People had vegetation growing up in their eves. Vegetation clearance wasn't observed. People didn't understand the threat or believe the threat."

    Some areas had very strict controls about the removal of vegetation, "trees being the holy green icon", he said. "Removal of trees is quite an effort in many municipalities and Nillumbik is one of them."

    Mr Incoll said he had always worried about the flee-early-or-fight message.

    "An untrained person who has never seen a fire like that, and hasn't properly prepared their house, has really got no hope in the teeth of a fire like that if they cop the full force of it," he said, referring to Saturday's fire.

    He was hopeful that the royal commission announced on Monday would result in "a collection of all the wisdom that has been gathered over the years".
  13. its really a no brainer. ive lived through enough bushfires while growing up to know you keep the area around your house clear. several hundred meters clear
  14. And this.

    There is more than one issue here. On the face of it, it is entirely reasonable for residents to expect to be allowed to do what they think they need to, to safeguard their property.

    But is it also reasonable for people to be allowed to settle wherever they want, without regard to fire risk? And then to be allowed to clearfell 250 trees for their own purpose?

    It depends on a lot of things. Farmers, for example have a self-evident reason for being there, and there are probably a lot of other examples. At the other end of the spectrum is the nature lover who just wants to live in a forest.

    In the end, all these people have willingly assumed a risk to some extent. I'm all for free choice, but if the price of allowing people live in a forest is to clearfell a forest to make it safe, is that justifiable?

    This is where we need to concentrate our attention in future - once people are actually settled in the bush, it's going to be too late to solve some of these problems. The Hamer government was the first to recognise this, decades ago, and to their credit they tried to do something about it. A lot of that foresight has been over-ridden by subsequent state and local governments, unfortunately.
  15. I don't know where you source your information from but the Bureau of Meteorology said it's the longest and hottest on record. I'll accept them as the authority on the matter.

  16. But don't you know? Anecdotal evidence always trumps science. :roll:
  17. The frequency of these events are getting closer, the duration of these events are getting longer.
    Frequency and duration have shown a change in pattern.
  18. :worthlesspics:

    miranda divine, sounds like a pornstar name to me
  19. Which contradicts their own data.

    Note that although the max. temp was higher in some parts of the country, most of Victoria was average - and NSW/QLD was actually lower.

    Minimum temp was also normal or lower for VIC.

    Drier than normal - yes. Hotter than normal - no, not if you look at the average rather than just a couple of freak hot days.
  20. That's 1 year in a 12 year drought. Over the 12 years, it has been hotter and longer than any drought proceeding it.