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Australian bushfires: If only they'd reduced CO2

08 Jan 2020 | Science Notes

Cutting greenhouse gases down under would have been a big help according to the New York Times. Or, turning to a sensible source, cutting forest fuel levels, according to Australian bushfire scientist David Packham. (Even better would be if the number of arsonists, currently around 100, who have been arrested for deliberately starting fires in the at-risk areas, were drastically reduced.) What's interesting, and typical, is that the article claiming to spot a causal link between greenhouse gases and severe bushfires only appeared after the forests were ablaze. The article warning about the consequences of not reducing forest fuel levels came out nearly five years ago, so it’s one of those ahead-of-time predictions science used to rely on. It's also interesting, and as usual under-reported, that even though this year's fires are making the headlines, a glance at Australian history shows the numbers are far from unprecedented.

The 2015 article about bushfire expert Packham’s warning about fuel loads begins

Forest fuel levels have worsened over the past 30 years because of "misguided green ideology", vested interests, political failure and mismanagement, creating a massive bushfire threat, a former CSIRO bushfire scientist has warned.

It goes on to cite Packham’s concern that forest fuel levels are higher than they've been in thousands of years. Which might explain the exceptional levels of fire once the stuff ignites.

The other question, always worth asking when the climate panic brigade is out in full force, is whether this year's burn season is actually that unusual. After all, as we explained in our video on the Great Amazon Fire Scare of 2019, the alarmists have a bad habit of exaggerating the scale and novelty of forest fire disasters whenever it fits the climate catastrophe narrative. And Australians have suffered devastating bushfires for centuries. So is this year exceptional?

For answers we go to the Global Forest Watch website where we can get historical numbers since 2001 on Australian bushfires. And we find that the 2019 daily numbers are high, but not as high as 2011 or 2012:

The 2019 cumulative total as of December 31 was tied (with 2006) for fifth highest since 2001, behind 2012, 2011, 2002 and 2004. Not exactly a pattern there.

We should also note that while satellites over Australia recorded about 522,000 fire indicators between December 1 and January 2, they recorded about 850,000 in Africa over the same period. But those didn't make the papers, at least to the same extent, just as they didn’t when the Amazon fires were the scare du jour. Perhaps because forest fires happen in dry countries every year, and globally the current numbers aren't unusual:

As we have noted previously, scientists have pointed out that, at the global level, the area being burned each year by wildfires is not going up, and is likely even trending down. So if global warming causes wildfires to increase, it must not be happening.

Naturally none of this commentary is meant to diminish the suffering of those in Australia dealing with the scourge of wildfires. Or in Africa or elsewhere. But it is meant to place the issue in perspective and stop opportunistic alarmists from trying to scare people into useless climate policies, rather than pursuing forest management policies that might actually do some good. Like not letting dry wood pile up in huge amounts for some idiot to set on fire.

7 comments on “Australian bushfires: If only they'd reduced CO2”

  1. Speaking of fuel loads, has anyone ever mentioned the mountain pine beetles as a contributor to the fires in B.C. in recent years? When you have millions of dead trees standing around for a couple of decades, bad things might happen. The surprise is that anyone is surprised.

  2. 'Even better would be if the number of arsonists, currently around 100, who have been arrested for deliberately starting fires in the at-risk areas, were drastically reduced'
    This is just bot distributed misinformation.
    The real figures:
    'Since November, authorities in NSW have charged or cautioned 183 people for some 200 bushfire-related offences – malicious and otherwise. Of those, 24 people have been charged with deliberately lighting bushfires. Another 53 were charged or cautioned for failing to comply with a total fire ban and another 47 with discarding a lit cigarette'.
    (https://www.news.com.au/national/crime/shocking-number-of-arson-charges-in-bushfireravaged-regions-indicate-sinister-start-of-blazes/news-story/be73567276fcbb39b8e7f58bf79268cb)

  3. I'm not sure about bot-distributed misinformation but The ClimateDiscussionNexus article says "around 100" and links to an article about Queensland. The article says that 98 people have been "dealt with" for "deliberately setting fires". This means arson I think.
    The article you link refers to 24 arson charges and quite a few lesser charges and cautions. But, it leaves 59 unaccounted so perhaps these are related to the "unassigned" which, as per the article, are usually considered to be arson. That brings us a lot closer to "around 100". But, it doesn't matter anyway since this was for New South Wales, a completely different state in Australia from Queensland. So I guess that there may be more firebugs kicking around down under than we might have thought by reading just one of the articles. Regardless of bots.

  4. We The people need to take back our country and stop the government this criminal murderous treasonous out of control government that serves us we do not serve it
    And until this happens we are heading for destruction
    It is all done by design people that doing this on purpose some of the small towns will never recover they want everyone in the cities to control them with the 5G great have a look what they done in China it’s Total control over their people
    You go along with the government or you get blacklisted rounded up and killed
    Coming to a city near you soon are than you think
    So wake up and tell these murderous Treasonous lying criminal bastards they serve us we do not serve them and let’s charge them with murder and treason and lock the bastards up

  5. Hi Al Ponik
    The figures are for the entire country over a 12 month period including the period well before the current fires and has been acknowledged by a number of publications who are delivering straight news. I have no idea where the 100 figure in the article comes from. I have not seen it before and I have no confidence in it. What has been made clear by the police is that there have been 24 people only charged with arson. That is not very many compared to the number of fires. Those wishing to distract from the ultimate cause of the fires (climate change) have been running misinformation about arsonists and greenies and that has been picked up by some less scrupulous media outlets.
    Below is a link to a Guardian story from today discussing the problem of how Murdoch media have been pushing misinformation and distortion on the bush fires:
    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/jan/10/news-corp-employee-climate-misinformation-bushfire-coverage-email

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