“We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down…”

I’m no stranger to wildland fires. Longtime readers may recall that my own home had the threat of wildfires here in Chico, California this past summer, as did many Butte County residents who not only were threatened, but lost homes.


View from my home on June 16th, 2008

The recent fires in Australia and the loss of life and property were apparently compounded by a draconian policy that prevented people who lived in the fire threat zones from cutting trees and brush near their properties. We witnessed something equally tragic in Lake Tahoe fire in 2007, owing to similar eco driven government stupidity forcing heavy handed policies there. Residents couldn’t get permits to cut down brush and trees, the result was a firestorm of catastrophic proportions.

A family in Australia saw the threat, decided on civil disobedience, cleared a firebreak, and got fined $50,000. They feel vindicated now, because their house is one of the few in Reedy Creek, Victoria,  still standing, the only one in a two kilometer radius. Good for them.

The quote from the homeowner that is the title of this entry really does say it all. Here’s the story from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Fined for illegal clearing, family now feel vindicated

Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie
February 12, 2009 – 12:03AM

Paul Rovere

After suffering court action that cost the family $100,000, Liam Sheahan believes clearing trees saved his home and his family. Photo: Paul Rovere

They were labelled law breakers, fined $50,000 and left emotionally and financially drained.

But seven years after the Sheahans bulldozed trees to make a fire break — an act that got them dragged before a magistrate and penalised — they feel vindicated. Their house is one of the few in Reedy Creek, Victoria,  still standing.

The Sheahans’ 2004 court battle with the Mitchell Shire Council for illegally clearing trees to guard against fire, as well as their decision to stay at home and battle the weekend blaze, encapsulate two of the biggest issues arising from the bushfire tragedy.

Do Victoria’s native vegetation management policies need a major overhaul? And should families risk injury or death by staying home to fight the fire rather than fleeing?

Anger at government policies stopping residents from cutting down trees and clearing scrub to protect their properties is already apparent. “We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down,” Warwick Spooner told Nillumbik Mayor Bo Bendtsen at a meeting on Tuesday night.

Although Liam Sheahan’s 2002 decision to disregard planning laws and bulldoze 250 trees on his hilltop property hurt his family financially and emotionally, he believes it helped save them and their home on the weekend.

“The house is safe because we did all that,” he said as he pointed out his kitchen window to the clear ground where tall gum trees once cast a shadow on his house.

“We have got proof right here. We are the only house standing in a two-kilometre area.”

At least seven houses and several sheds on neighbouring properties along Thompson-Spur road in Reedy Creek were destroyed by Saturday night’s blaze.

Saving their home was no easy task. At 2pm on Saturday, Mr Sheahan saw the nearby hills ablaze.

He knew what lay ahead when the predicted south-westerly change came.

The family of four had discussed evacuation but decided their property was defensible, due largely to their decision to clear a fire break. It also helped that Mr Sheahan, his son Rowan and daughter Kirsten were all experienced members of the local CFA.

“We prayed and we worked bloody hard. Our house was lit up eight times by the fire as the front passed,” Mr Sheahan said. “The elements off our TV antenna melted. We lost a Land Rover, two Subarus, a truck and trailer and two sheds.”

Mr Sheahan is still angry about his prosecution, which cost him $100,000 in fines and legal fees. The council’s planning laws allow trees to be cleared only when they are within six metres of a house. Mr Sheahan cleared trees up to 100 metres away from his house.

“The council stood up in court and made us to look like the worst, wanton environmental vandals on the earth. We’ve got thousands of trees on our property. We cleared about 247,” he said.

He said the royal commission on the fires must result in changes to planning laws to allow land owners to clear trees and vegetation that pose a fire risk.

“Both the major parties are pandering to the Greens for preferences and that is what is causing the problem. Common sense isn’t that common these days,” Mr Sheahan said.

Melbourne University bushfire expert Kevin Tolhurst gave evidence to help the Sheahan family in their legal battle with the council.

“Their fight went over nearly two years. The Sheahans were victimised. It wasn’t morally right,” he said yesterday.

Dr Tolhurst told the Seymour Magistrates court that Mr Sheahan’s clearing of the trees had reduced the fire risk to his house from extreme to moderate.

“That their house is still standing is some natural justice for the Sheahans,” he said.

He said council vegetation management rules required re-writing. He also called on the State Government to provide clearer guidelines about when families should stay and defend their property.

Houses in fire-prone areas should be audited by experts to advise owners whether their property is defensible, Dr Tolhurst said.

Mr Sheahan said he wanted others to learn from his experience and offered an invitation for Government ministers to visit his property.

He would also like his convictions overturned and fines repaid.

“It would go a long way to making us feel better about the system. But I don’t think it will happen.”

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/fined-for-illegal-clearing-family-now-feel-vindicated-20090212-85bd.html

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237 thoughts on ““We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down…”

  1. Good for Mr. Sheahan. He has undoubtedly had enough of the court system, but wouldn’t if be wonderful if he speerheaded a class action lawsuit against the governments who enacted these idiotic regulations, and against the various greenie organizations who pressure for such laws. Sadly, the greenies can never be called to account for such stupidities – they just disclaim responsibility and move on to the next lunacy, such as global warming apocalypticism. The Australian aborigines had a long tradition of deliberately setting fires. But of course, the green chattering classes addling modern society know better so that traditional knowledge was shelved.

  2. This is only the tip of the iceberg re this story. If you read today’s Australian they (green’s) also banned controlled fire clearing in 2007. Also another Australian put up a recent post at WUWT that his boss had offered various aircraft to water down the fires (before the fires) but the Victorian Government (or greens in parliament refused because “those planes” contributed to too many emissions….There you go… very very sad and very very stupid

  3. I think the best example of wildlife/natural habitat mismanagement state side is Yellowstone. Its a shining display of pure stupidity.

  4. Trees seem to be valued higher than human lives and getting permission for the average citizen to remove native vegetation legally is next to impossible here in Australia. So this man did what he believed in and the proof is in the result – will he get a fine refund? Not bloody likely. Good on him.

    The evidence is that the standard small cleared zone around houses (around 30m) in the bushfire zones meant nothing to the firestorms, really significant clearance like this man achieved, obviously had a result. Seems fairly obvious.

  5. When Greenshirt political agendas are allowed to override common sense, society is doomed. Today Australia, tomorrow the world.

  6. Good for them.

    Thing is, we *knew* all this going back all the way to the devestating Yellowstone fires in the 1980s. They were quick to put out any brushfire, and heaven forbid they clear anything lest they destroy the natural beauty. What they learned is fire is natures way of spring cleaning. And when you let all that crap build up and not let nature get rid of it, there will be hell to pay. The resulting fire at Yellowstone was so massive and consuming, the burned trees were still visible when I did a snowmobile tour in 2004.

  7. The natural life-cycle of Eucalyptus trees favour bush fires cleaning out debris that builds up under the trees and these trees survive typical bush fires. Lightening strikes cause regular bush fires within Australia and so makes the environment a perfect habitat for Eucalyptus trees. So the obvious decision is do not build a dwelling surrounded by these trees unless you are also surrounded by a large firebreak. Thus making firebreaks illegal is an extreme act of stupidity.

  8. Australia’s national parks are dense eucalypt forests because that is supposedly “natural”. However it seems that before Europeans arrived the native population kept the country as open woodland with continuous burning (hence the prevalence of fire-friendly eucalypts). Before humans arrived the megafauna kept the country as open woodland (mostly not eucalypts), in the same way that elephants still do in Africa. It would be nice to get back to that, but presumably it would be a lot more expensive than managing with fire [at the moment we don't manage at all].

  9. Seems we are condemned to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Looking at the news coverage, I couldn’t believe how much “bush” was left around homes in these areas. Allowing thousands of people to build homes in fire interface zones without insisting on some form of fireproofing is simply tempting fate. Sooner or later, all the conditions for a catastrophic fire will occur- it’s just a matter of time. Insisting that people cannot fireproof their residences demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of fire ecology. Unfortunately, effective fire control has lulled the public into believing that forest fires are an unusual phenomena confined to remote areas and linked to global warming. Sorry, it’s mother nature doing her thing as she has for thousands of years. Glad to see one independent thinker do the right thing. Too bad so many others had to pay such a terrible price.

  10. The council’s planning laws allow trees to be cleared only when they are within six metres of a house.

    I’m assuming many trees were removed by the fires, most of which were more than six metres from any house.

    My question is: who or what will be charged with breaking these planning laws?

    Mother Nature?

    Gaia?

    Greenpeace?

    Space Time Continuum?

    Pacific Decadal Oscillation?

    Anyone producing carbon dioxide?

    Don’t polar bears produce carbon dioxide? Or do they get a pass because of cuteness offsets?

    Who will represent the defendants?

  11. No clearing beyond six meters? That’s only about 20 feet. Astounding. Our fire people tell us that ignition can take place at a hundred feet from the flames, which is likely an underestimate. Someone has been misleading these poor people intentionally.

    I read a couple of personal accounts from AU folks who escaped with their lives that said the local fire council had told them they could defend their homes with garden hoses and buckets of water placed around the perimeter of the house. The garden hoses melted, and the buckets, well, who’s going to stand out there with a tree burning 20 feet away. It can’t be done without protective gear.

    The trees they cleared were Eucalyptus. I use extracted Eucalyptus oil for keep the gnats away during the summer, here in CA. Works well for a couple of hours, but it’s hard on the skin and extremely volatile, probably moreso than gasoline. The heat from the burning from these trees must have been very intense.

    Bulldozing a ring around your house is a little extreme, but I’d clear a wider swath than 20 feet, and make sure my insurance premiums were paid on time. $100,000 can buy a lot of insurance, and your house can be replaced. You can’t be.

  12. We have the same problem here but for opposite reasons. We have rich hippies moving up Lostine Canyon, building fancy log homes amongst tall fir, pine, and tamarack, who REFUSE to cut a firebreak of ANY width. They really like the Earth Muffin mood of a log home in an evergreen forest…that hasn’t been cleaned for decades since the Forestry Department blocked fire wood cutters from keeping the floor clean. Back then, the COUGH “wisdom” was that dead snags, fallen logs, and brush was nature’s way of recycling and fertilizing the rich forest soil. Had they bothered to dig down through said layers of soil, they would see it streaked with charcoal every few years. Some of these Earth muffins have left because apparently the brochure didn’t include having to plow your own driveway three times a day. The rest we figure have a death wish, or at least the desire to have a really big bonfire. You bring hotdogs, I’ll bring beer.

  13. I’m no stranger to this type of event, having lost my house in the 1991 eucalyptus tree-fueled East Bay Hills inferno in N. California. I moved to a new place about 8 miles away, also in the hills. It is now mandated by the city that we clear brush and grass from within 90 feet of the house. I do way more, for obvious reasons relating to my mental health.

    Given that the Australian government, as I have read, have called this a mass murder (pointing the finger at the arsonists), will they themselves now step up as accomplices and plead no contest to the lesser charge of manslaughter ?? I doubt it.

    Bad science and bad interpretation of data ALWAYS leads to bad things and, in my experience (over 30 years as a professional scientist), having observed this type of “consensus” behavior before, the bad things come out of nowhere – they are totally unpredictable as to source, as with this “mass murder”.

    Today we cannot predict how many people will die because of the bogus, no-accountability (YET), pseudoscientists pretending to do important planet-saving science. I’m predicting it will be millions, maybe tens of millions. IMO, individually duped young people are not responsible for this, but we sure as hell know who is. If living with the knowledge that you are the only person in history to get both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize under false pretenses isn’t bad enough, how about adding up your fractional involvement in “mass murder” on a daily basis on top of that ??

    Another great article. There should be no doubt why this site was voted the best science blog on the internet.

  14. California (indeed the entire Western Hemisphere) has been home to humanity for at least 13,500 years and probably longer. Human habitation predates Holocene vegetation. The most prevalent tree and plant species today migrated in after the Wisconsin glaciation from 12,000 to 6,000 years ago (depending on the species and location).

    During the entirety of human occupation anthropogenic fire on a landscape scale has been the norm. Frequent, seasonal, human-set fires have modified plant communities, and indeed dictated vegetation types in many regions. Prairies, savannas, and forests have been burned on a regular basis since inception following the retreat of the ice sheets.

    In the absence of that traditional stewardship over the last 150+ years, not only have fuels accumulated but entire ecosystems have been transformed. Where fires were once light burning and beneficial, they are now catastrophic and deadly to vegetation, wildlife, and resident humans.

    Fuels management is not sufficient; restoration to heritage conditions is required. That means removing excess biomass AND prescribed burning in the fall when conditions allow fire control. Without scientific restoration to heritage conditions of fire resiliency, catastrophic fires will continue to plague the West in particular.

    Misconceived enviro-legal barriers to landscape restoration engender destruction to natural and human environments. Many towns and cities, as well as rural areas, have suffered such destruction in the last 20 years, including Chico, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Los Alamos, Bend, Ketchum, and numerous others. The largest and most destructive fires in state history have visited CA, OR, WA, ID, CO, and AZ in recent years.

    It’s not climate change; it’s the fuels, and restoration stewardship is the antidote.

  15. If everyone in Australia cleared all the trees within 30 metres of their houses, there’d hardly be a tree left in the Eastern half of the country. We’ve got exteme drought because over 70% of the trees in Australia have been cleared since the Europeans arrived – clearing more trees ain’t gonna fix the problem.

  16. Murder.
    Pre-meditated murder, clear and simple.
    Prison isn’t harsh enough for those politicians.

    Call me cynical but I’ll bet they all get re-elected too.

  17. Once again, draconian “environmental” legislation leads to the reinforcement of the view that any attempt to legislate an improvement of the balance between civilization/development and natural wilderness is misguided. IMHO the same thing happens with the AGW scare. Legitimate environmental protection causes are damaged by the focus on AGW.

  18. I live a few hundred meters from the edge of a national park in Victoria. Every fire season I slash the paddock between me and the park in the hope the bare ground will stop or slow a fire before it gets to my house.

    I’ve lived here for over ten years now and the thousands of hectares of park have not had one single cool burn so it is choked with deadfall, bark and leaf litter. The local park administration is too busy chasing gold fossickers and people riding horses or mountain bikes out of the park to bother conducting controlled burns.

    Last Saturday temperatures soared to 45C with a northerly wind gusting over 90 kilometres an hour – the park is directly to my north so I was extremely apprehensive as I worked in my home office whilst listening to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s excellent fire commentary.

    It’s a bit like the blitz – the radio station broadcasts warnings which start with a siren sound then a voice saying things like “…all residents in the Kinglake area are advised a large wildfire is burning towards the town – those who choose to leave their homes must do so now, those who choose to remain and defend their homes must stay where they are and not leave the area until the fire front has passed…” etc etc etc.

    I heard the calls for assistance from people in the midst of the biggest fires as they rang the radio station to tell their stories. “…house gone, wife and daughter burnt to death…”, “…all my sheep are dead, house gone, family killed in car trying to escape…” – it became worse and worse as the afternoon dragged on.

    As I worked I kept an ear out for the name of my district amongst the growing list of areas affected by fire and then I heard it “…all residents be advised a large fire is burning across hills to the north and properties in areas to the south are likely to be subject to ember attack…”

    I popped outside as I had been doing regularly during the day to see a huge column of smoke had suddenly appeared behind the hills near our property blotting out the northern horizon and the smell of burning beginning to fill the air.

    I stood straining against the burning wind for 20 minutes or so watching and waiting – my fire pump was primed and hoses laid out, gutters blocked, air conditioners turned off and I was dressed in heavy cotton work clothes ready to attack spot fires which would have been ignited by burning embers flying in front of the main fire.

    Then suddenly the northerly stopped as if someone had shut a door and a period of calm engulfed the valley for a few moments before a new wind storm sprang up from the south – the temperature dropped more than 15 degrees instantly and the large column of smoke was pushed back away from my property.

    The danger was over for the moment.

    Towns to the east suffered enormous losses with several small communities losing every building and all their infrastructure – no water, gas, sewerage, power or phone lines left – just smouldering heaps of corrugated iron and cars with the glass in their windows melted and congealed on the ground next to them.

    When I first moved to Victoria in February 1983 I was pressed into fighting the ‘Ash Wednesday’ fires which occurred in similar weather conditions.
    After the main fire roared passed the town my group was defending I saw many dessicated charred people dead in their cars or lying in paddocks where they had tried to run from the fires – it must be a horrible death and this year it has happened again to many more.

    After the Ash Wednesday disaster great advances were made in the command and control of emergency services and better equipment was purchased for fire-fighters, but the ‘green malaise’ has afflicted local government and national and state park administration.

    No matter how many shiny fire engines are supplied, if state forests continue to be mismanaged and if planning restrictions on clearing bush from near houses are not rescinded it will happen again and again.

    It’s cool today, perhaps 18C with a strong south east wind carrying a smoke haze from fires 250 kilometres away – the radio features talk of politics and ‘stimulus packages’ but still I hear regular crosses to reporters in far off valleys describing wild fires and warning residents of towns to be ready to flee.

    The forested hills to my north are still primed and ready to burn – the slightest spark is all that is needed and the weather forecast for next week includes temperatures in the high thirties with dry thunderstorms and gusty northerlies.

    I’d better keep the pump primed…

  19. I write from South Australia. The treatment meted out to the Sheahan family was
    not only grossly disproportionate, but also the manifestation of ignorance from little people elected by their own ilk to positions of power far beyond their competence.

    The Sheahans are owed a most public and full apology from the same elected members of council. One would suspect this will not be forthcoming, lest it trigger compensation for the family. But perhaps more likely is the complete lack of any good form in that particular class of persons.

  20. Here is how County of Los Angeles, California, handles firebreaks around buildings.

    Note, the default clearing distance is 30 feet. However:

    “3. When the fire code official or commissioner finds that because of extra hazardous conditions, a firebreak of only 30 feet around such building, structure, or apiary is not sufficient to provide reasonable fire safety, the person owning, leasing, controlling, operating, or maintaining the building, structure, or apiary shall maintain around or adjacent to any building, structure, or apiary an additional fire protection or firebreak made by removing all brush, flammable vegetation, or combustible growth located from 30 to 100 feet from such building, structure, or apiary, as may be required by the fire code official or commissioner. Grass and other vegetation located more than 30 feet from such building structure, or apiary and less than 18 inches in height above the ground, may be maintained where necessary to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.

    317.2.3 Extra hazard. The governing body finds that in many cases because of extra hazardous situations, a firebreak around buildings, structures, or apiaries of only 30 feet is not sufficient and that a firebreak of 50 feet or more may be necessary. If the fire code official or commissioner finds that because of the location of any building, structure, or apiary and because of other conditions, a 30-foot firebreak around such building, structure, or apiary as required by Section 317.2.2 is not sufficient, the fire code official or commissioner may notify all owners of property affected that they must clear all flammable vegetation and other combustible growth or reduce the amount of fuel content for a distance greater than 30 feet, but not to exceed 200 feet. ”

    http://www.ordlink.com/codes/lacounty/index.htm

    Title 32 Fire Code, Section 317

    This is not legal advice, merely quoting a portion of the freely-available Los Angeles County Code.

    However, the Los Angeles County’s approach seems just a bit more common sensical than what the Aussies must endure.

    PS: Thank you to all the Australian fire fighters who flew to California to help us with our recent extreme wildfires. Good on ya, mates!

    I can only hope that our California fire fighters are there to help you in your time of need. Sadly, I have not read anywhere that any went. Apparently, President Obama on Feb 10th called Prime Minister Rudd to offer US help in the fire fighting effort. Good for him. My question is, why haven’t the US firefighters already landed and begun work?

    Roger E. Sowell
    Marina del Rey, California

  21. I live in Colville, Washington. We have a power plant here that uses chipped wood. All of the wood live cut, and unfit for boards. What in the WORLD keeps us from cutting all the DEADWOOD, here, Schizofornia, Oz, where ever and chipping it for use in power plants. Duh. This stuff was grown from oxygen and carbon right here, now. The consumption of the floor rot, tree falls, beetle kill, root rot, for energy does NOTHING more than release the energy from the sun, and return the carbon to the cycle. Oh, we need some jobs for the unemployed???? Give them chainsaws and axes, and start hauling dead wood to the power plants….

    Oh..and end these INCREDIBLE FOREST FIRES. I’m an old man, now. I can remember when farmers in Schizofornia fired the woods in the winter to burn off the chaparral…kept the forest floor accessible to the fauna. I can remember reading (I’m an American Colonial history buff) how shocked Europeans were about how well the eastern forests were “groomed” by controlled fires. The “savages” (yeah right)) were burning and tending the woods so their animal spirits could flourish. Thus the incredible Kain-tuck-ee (a reserved area where all the nations hunted their needs without fear of any inter tribal competition) was drooled over by occidental colonists…money to be made with property, screw the savages.

    I’m going to lay a lot of blood on a lot of hands right now, here. And no one gives a shit!!! I lay Columbine blood at the hands of the gun control psychotics. I lay the huge fires of OZ, and the deaths there at the feet of the environmentalist kooks. On it goes…

    The environmentalism religion has done the same thing to humanity that was done by the inquisition, the Conquistadors, the Salem Witch psychotics, and A L G O R E.
    Oh, should I include the people whose hearts were removed by Incan priests….

    This must end.

  22. I think that people are allowed to buy and build in fire trap country because it is not recognized as a guaranteed conflict of interest when land speculators and real estate people are allowed to run for local gov. positions and planning board positions. I spent an morning in the Southern California brushlands with a professional fire ecologist while training to be a Basic Mountaineering Instructor. He used terms such as ‘tons of fuel per year per acre’ and ‘mean time between fires’. He changed how I look at the woods around my place.

  23. Greens kill. I’ve seen it in Malibu, where people couldn’t clear around their house to save a rare type of rat. The rats and the people burned together.

    I’ve seen it in Tahoe where dead trees couldn’t be cleared to save spotted owl habitat. Owls and people burned together.

    And now in Australia…

    Environmentalism is a grave threat to people and wildlife.

  24. great story PeterW – thank you.

    We have all grown up with brooms – to us a dirty floor that hasn’t been swept is untidy.

    The aboriginals of Australia grew up with a similar idea that if it wasn’t burnt and cleared, it was untidy.

    To them we live in an untidy countryside.

  25. 1. Make homes unsafe by forbidding brush cleaning and firebreaks

    2. Homes get burned (and hundreds of people too)

    3. Step in with money for the survivord

    4. Tax people to pay for the assistance money

    5. Repeat so as to make the bureaucrat’s empire building ever larger

  26. Maybe a class action against the councils is what it will take to make them sit up and take notice and allow back burning to clear the rubbish.
    Good luck to Mr Sheehan, he deserves to be refunded his money plus legals.
    Some of these gum trees shed huge amounts bark, small branches and leaf litter and it is just to dry to compost.
    Back burning does not seem to destroy, days later the seeds are shooting up, and gum trees put out new green shoots, amazing to see how quickly it happens.
    Years ago I had a small win against a council, we were told we had to lay a concrete crossing before we could develop a property. I went and saw them and said “the concrete trucks crossing will break that up” their reply thats right, and you will have to repair and relay again. I thought about it, went to the car wreckers yard and got a bunch of old springs, found as much reinforcing as I could lay my hands on and all went in the concrete crossing to help. Later concrete truck drivers were amazed when they drove over and nothing happened, I just smiled. Hope the council in later years had no reason to cut into the crossing with their diamond saws, good luck.

  27. Tex McGowan (20:53:17) said “If everyone in Australia cleared all the trees within 30 metres of their houses, there’d hardly be a tree left in the Eastern half of the country. We’ve got exteme drought because over 70% of the trees in Australia have been cleared since the Europeans arrived – clearing more trees ain’t gonna fix the problem.”

    I’m sure if you do the math you will find this is surely not the case. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports about 2 million household in Victoria which has an area 0f 227,416 square kilometres. Even if you count the large number of houses in towns and Melbourne city the area of each house cleared to a 30m radius would only total about 7,200km2. This is only 0.3% of the land area of Victoria and I would think a small price to pay for an insurance policy which would go as long way towards protecting homes from future fires of this type.

    Tex may also be aware that trees can be replaced by grassland, sports fields and crops. Native vegetation can be preserved in the vast areas of Eastern Australia which do not have human occupants. Residents of country towns and isolated farms should be permitted to protect themselves and should not be hindered by draconian green policies which have pervaded many of Victoria’s local governments.

  28. SoCal fuels management is no great shakes of a worthwhile example. Just last year the Sayre, Marek, and Freeway fires blew out the thick chapparal and burned homes in Santa Maria, Sylmar, and Yorba Linda. The Tea Fire ravaged Montecito.

    The year before that the Witch, Poomacha, Harris, Rice, Ranch, Canyon and many other fires burned hills and homes in SoCal.

    In 2003 the Cedar Fire in and about San Diego burned 750,000 acres, destroyed 3500 homes, and killed 22 people.

    We need to learn a lesson from all those fires. Defensible space must extend to the furthest reaches of the watershed. Dinky fuels breaks don’t do anything. Or worse, they give false confidence, and when the big fire hits, result in fatalities.

  29. Tex McGowan (20:53:17) :

    “If everyone in Australia cleared all the trees within 30 metres of their houses, there’d hardly be a tree left in the Eastern half of the country.”

    People shouldn’t be given permits to build in these wooded areas unless substantial fire breaks were required. But it looks to me like there is plenty land to plant houses on where cutting massive amounts of trees down isn’t needed.

    From Google “Reedy Creek, Victoria” I easily spotted Sheahan’s place, go southeast from where google hits the target to
    37^16’36.46’S 145^09′.75’E

  30. The largest fire in terms of area burned in Victoria occurred in 1851 in conditions almost exactly the same as the present disaster.
    The smoke was blown across Bass Strait to Tasmania and was so dense there that candles were required inside at lunch time.
    1851 was less than 20 years after the first white settlers had arrived. But the aboriginal population which had fire-managed the forests for thousands of years had recently (1780s) been decimated by smallpox and then, with the arrival of Europeans, had abandoned their traditional lifestyle.
    So over maybe 50 years fuel had been building up in the forests which at that time were more extensive than they are today.
    The result was that up to a quarter of the land area of Victoria was incinerated, most of it in a single day according to contemporary writers.
    Subsequent major fires were carefully investigated by government-appointed panels of experts who heard evidence from biologists, botanists, firemen and others with first-hand experience.
    Most of these inquiries recommended reducing fuel loads and for many years it happened.
    However as many have commented above, we have now turned our backs on the accumulated wisdom of Old Australia and embraced the philosophies of the New Age.
    We have paid a heavy price but I doubt even the horror of this past week will bring about the reforms needed.
    One expert commentator estimated that up to a million birds and animals, the very life-forms our stupid environmental laws are supposed to protect, have perished. Even so the greens, through clever manipulation of the political arena, will probably prevail.
    I pray that I am wrong!

  31. Some believe you can source the massive infestation, and resulting devastation of the forests of British Columbia, Alberta, and eventually the Northwestern United states by the bark beetle to the same kind of lunatic environmental controls which encourage the recent spread of wild fires.

    It’s interesting that forest practice mismanagement may be the initial cause in both cases, but once the spread begins warm weather aids the spread. So these eco-nuts cause both tragedies, but they can blame global warming.

  32. Down here in OZ the green movement has completely influenced council decisions and policy for many years. I live next to a national park face fire threat every year being unable to cut any tree down on my property without risk of fine !

    In another type of such incident…
    Several years ago a man tried for seveal years to get permission to cut down a large gum tree overhanging his house. After several years of refusal by council the tree fell during a storm killing the man and destroying his house, leaving his family in complete grief. The story made news headlines and the council was put under some pressure to explain their policy, but all to no avail as no charge was laid and no change to the policy was made.

    You can draw your own conclusions here !
    History will repeat again, and again, and again !

  33. “We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down…”

    But what about the trees? The Sheahans killed over 247 trees, a masacre that will live in infamy!

    Oh Gaia, forgive us our trespasses against you, for we know not what we do. Except that Sheahan bastard. He probably did it just out of spite. Hate, even.

  34. Most people have a common sense conservationist orientation that they mistake as environmentalism. This is benevolent. No one wants to see trash accumulating, rivers polluted, smoggy air, etc. But these average folks also see themselves rightly as coexisting with their environment. They want to conserve a forest so they can enjoy it, and that’s where it ends.

    But there is a whole class of real environmentalists that are essentially man haters. They believe in rights for trees and animals. They believe that arson for large houses in rural areas is noble. They challenge a property owner’s right to build, by labeling every puddle a wetland. They use force and litigation to stop new power plants, and to destroy existing dams. And they campaign for massive and stifling carbon cap and trade legislation.

    These enviroextremists must be stopped. And I agree, any tree hugging legislator in Australia that helped tinder this conflagration, is now a mass murderer.

  35. Most of the people in these communities actually want to live in a more natural environment. It is not as simple as many seem to profess and there are statement made that lack the knowledge necessary to make them.

    I am not criticising any one statement and indeed there are many good points made. While the police and authorities investigate and relief organisations do everything possible, it simply is just not the time yet to blame. There are over 1000 homes destroyed. Many more thousands displaced. Over 180 people are dead and this figure will almost certainly rise. 180 dead less than a week ago while still many are missing.

    The time now is one of response to the needs of these people, these communities. There will be a time and I am sure it will be soon but for now statements of the Greens are at fault, Bureaucracy have much to answer for, local council have brought this upon… whatever. To me, these arguments lack information, they lack compassion and the lack integrity. It is just not the time yet for this type of public debate.

  36. We humans have a veritable treasure chest of wisdom carried down through the millenia by our ancestors, widom and knowledge hard won through bitter experience and stuggle is now ignored and derided as useless in this ‘modern age’.
    The Australian tragedy could so easily have been avoided had they listened to the native aboriginies and taken lessons from the western USA wildfires, common sense with a respectful view to the generations that came before us is essential and this goldmine of knowledge has been wilfully ignored.
    I saw Rudd on TV as he tried to express his thoughts about the people who set the fires calling them mass murderers, it would be far better if he at least acknowledged the role of those who laid the foundations of the disaster that was so very easy to foretell with even the basic minimum of common sense.
    Its sadly plain to see that the authorities will be fully engaged in the inevitable coverup and will minimise the terrible role of the greens in this wholly avoidable tragedy, its entirely possible/probable? that lessons will not be learned and the tragedy will repeat itself.

  37. As unbelievably stupid as environmentalists have sounded so far in this thread, I can top all of it. On the TV News here in New Zealand, they managed to blame the excessive fuel load on global warming. Yeah, I know.

    The story went that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere led to much greater plant growth, as plants love extra CO2. So there was a lot more vegetation in the forest because of the extra CO2 and that’s why the fires were so large and hot. It’s all global warming’s fault.

    Yes, that’s really what they said. No, I’m not making it up. I really, really, really wish I was making it up, but I’m not. The reporter even said it with a straight face.

    It was simply the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

  38. Tex McGowan (20:53:17) : What absolute rubbish! People outside of Australia might believe what you are saying but some of us bloggers live here in Australia also.The majority of Australians do not live in the bush but on the coast. The nearby oceans have a habit of falling as rain on us coast dwellers thereby dampening the foliage. Even in bad droughts, the coastal areas are never in danger of bushfires such as the ones we have just had.

  39. Not only the bureaucracy and politicians are guilty but so are the courts that have so devastatingly failed to protect individuals’ rights to live safely on their own land without oppressive and fatal interference from the state.

    They deserve utmost condemnation.

    We now have the control-freak Victorian bureau-morons declaring the people will not be allowed to rebuild in such a dangerous place as the countryside and any that do will have to spend at least $20,000 more to comply with yet more regulations on building standards.

    The usual downward spiral. When regulations suppress common sense disastrously, the political solution is more regulations to save the bureaucratic butt.

  40. In the UK we never have sufficient heat or drought for these types of fire to be a problem. However woodland managment has been practised successfully since at least the middle ages and is a benefit to both people and wildlife. It provides firewood and timber for all sorts of uses and allows continuous regeneration of the woodland which is a benefit to both plants and animals. Fortunately greenies have so far not tried to interfere, although I have seen townies come into the countryside and label the ancient practice of hedge-laying (to create a stock-proof barrier) as environmental vandalism. Unfortunately such ignorance is fairly widespread. Nevertheless I continue to do woodland coppicing and hedge-laying on my property. I just hope that these ancient practices are allowed to continue. The people of times-gone-by who lived intimately with nature knew what they were doing.

  41. Oh dear Nancy! You can’t see the wood for the trees……..

    Gaia? In Australian terms Gaia should mean,

    Give Aboriginee Intelligence Authority

    but in reality, Greenie Attitudes Invoke Apocalypse

  42. Well said PeterW.

    The story on the Sheahan’s has been one of the lead stories on the TV news in Australia. There is a groundswell of feeling that green policies limiting tree clearing in bushfire prone areas has been a major factor in allowing these huge bushfires to develop.

    To readers in the States and elsewhere in the world. If you haven’t seen a bushfire in a Eucalypt forest, you ain’t seen nuthin’. The volatility and sheer explosiveness is incredible.

    I can identify with the Sheahan’s to some extent. In October 2006 there was a large fire in the Bathurst Area of NSW (called “Billy’s Fire) that burnt out a huge area of Eucalypt forest. My property was right in the middle of it all and the whole 400 acres of my property was burnt out along with 1000’s of acres. My wife evacuated. I stayed behind to fight the fire and my house survived. I had fires burn up to 5 metres from my home. But I was well prepared with firebreaks, planned roads as firebreaks in the directions of prevailing winds, 50,000 litres of water in metal tanks, underground piping, pressure pumps, firefighting pumps, electric generators, protective clothing, etc.

    The polices of the greens in not allowing trees to be cut is criminal. The policies of Councils and National Parks in not performing controlled burns to limit leaf litter and fuel accumulation is also criminal. The Australian Aboriginal people used fire as a method to promote grass growth for Kangaroos etc for thousands of years and the Australian ecosystem has adapted to be an environment that can handle a burn every few years. The green policies have resulted in years of accumulated fuel growth. The result, destructive fires.

    The other main issue is that many opportunists in Australia in the media are using these terrible fires in Victoria to promote Climate Change scare messages saying that we can expect more of these kind of events and extreme weather due to climate change. I have told numerous people that I consider it immoral to try and gain Climate Change capital on the backs of all the people who have suffered and died in these fires. But this is what the media is doing. Sure it was hot and windy last Saturday in Victoria, occasionally that happens and Victoria has had a near record hot spell, but there was little talk of Global Warming when late November last year much of SE-Australia had record cold weather (I even had snow) almost unprecedented 4 weeks before Christmas in Aus. Using weather events to promote the cause of Climate Change is happening by some but it’s always one sided.

    Unless something happens the owls, bugs, birds and fungus are going to reign supreme in Australia. With the Green’s using Climate Change as a “Cloaking Device” for their policies we have an uphill battle.

    My thoughts and prayers to all those in Victoria who are suffering.

  43. RE Tex McGowan, Nancy and James Allison. Im sure that the families of the victims will be very happy with your opinion. You Go tell them that the trees are more important than people. You can always plant another tree a bit further down the road…Perhaps you might like to advocate a similar technique for the dead people!!!. As for Nancy accusing them of “murdering trees”…Get a life for gods sake. On the other hand I support measures that prevent people from building in fire prone areas, and if they do then they do so at their own risk. Planners need to take a more holistic look at what they advocate in their district plans.

  44. If the Sheahans couldn’t clear the trees on their property legally, one wonders why they didn’t just clear out the dead grass, leaves, and so on, which would fuel any fire.

  45. According to CSIRO and now being parroted by politicians the fires are the result of climate change and we need to be prepared for an increasing frequency regime of devasting fires as global warming increases our summer temperatures.

  46. My mistake re Nancy…….Give me a gun, a BIG one

    Reply: Uh, sure looks like Nancy was being facetious to me. ~ charles the moderator

  47. I must say if some of the language being used here was used by a ‘greenie’ I suspect a rapid ban would be in order. ‘mass murderer’, sheessh, just think what you are saying some of you! I don’t think anyone is mass murderer for having a view about the management of the environment – be you ‘greenie’ orHummer driver!

    I really would like to hear the other side, the, yes, ‘greenie’ view. But, I must say it’s hard to feel able to post offering even the criticism of posts so far I have for fear of a torrent of abuse. So, I suspect, as per usual, all we will get is more of one side hurling insults at ‘greenshirt’ and ‘idiots’ and little enlightening debate about how to live in a tinder dry, extremely flammable environment.

  48. @ Jeff B. (23:10:17)

    Very well said.

    Despite the guilt trip environmental activists try to lay at everyone’s feet, most folks would never want to rape and pillage the environment. Most seek a balance between their lives and the environment, they seek a small ‘footprint'; the overwrought activists want no footprint, as though mankind is to be viewed as unnatural.

  49. don’t live out there if you no this could happen. & if you say you no that they did not even cut down the trees,,[snip],,
    build a [snip] bunker on your propatey then..
    but you did not like they did not cut down the trees,,, do you get that…
    you did not think off that & they are flat out thinking of million of thing

    Reply: I thought about deleting this one. I decided to clean it up instead. Please refrain from profanity (and maybe sober up) ~ charles the moderator

  50. Then there was 48-year-old Gordon Timbs, of South Nowra, killed by a 25-metre gum tree which fell on his house while he slept one night in 1998. For two years, Timbs had begged Shoalhaven City Council for permission to cut down the tree, which he thought was unstable. But the council refused, with fatal consequences.
    His wife sued Shoalhaven Council and eventually succeeded in winning. the award verdict “In lieu thereof in action 7547/01 verdict for the plaintiff in the sum of $202,685 and in
    action 7547/01 verdict for the plaintiff in the sum of $541,091, each to date from 4 December 2002.
    I live in the Shoalhaven NSW Australia and this verdict against them forced the council to change its tree preservation law. One can now cut down a tree if it could fall on a house, the so called 45 DEG rule.
    I have lived in fire prone areas now for the last 35 years. There is only one way to stop these wildfires and that is to reduce the fuel by MANDATORY fuel reduction when the fuel load is high.
    The situation in Victoria was made worse because the local council only granted building permission if the applicant PLANTED trees close to the house so as to make the district “more forest like” IMBECILES!!!!!!

  51. If these Greens don’t realise that nature’s used fires for millenia as a healthy part of the ecosystem lifecycle then they’re completely dippy doo.

    I’d make a fairly strong bet that Aborigines moved away from the fire-threatened regions during fire seasons and spent their time there in the winter…..COMMON SENSE.

    As the bloke said, common sense isn’t very common any more…….

  52. Well done bringing this item to everone’s attention! My introduction to Australian bushfires was in 1952 and ever since then I have been very aware of fire risk. I have been a volunteer firefighter on many occasions, and I was one of the first outsiders to arrive in the razed township of Macedon on the day after the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983. I find it too emotional to talk about that, but let me say this- All my experience has shown me that houses in the ‘bush’ as the eucalypt forests of Australia are called, can be made fairly fire safe. The eucalyptus tree would be one of the most combustable of green vegetation in the world and that needs to be understood.

    Firstly a house needs to have an area of cleared land around it. That does not mean absolute bare ground, a nice garden and non-native shrubs can be very attractive. Beyond the clear area, plant quick-growing deciduous trees. What happens is this- the fire will ‘crown’ in the native bush and travel at a tremendous pace, tree top to tree top, the ground fire follows it. Flying burning leaves and bark are filtered by the deciduous trees, so limiting spot fires beyond. It takes quite a while for their leaves to shrivel in the heat and they resist burning until most of their water has evaporated, unlike the gum trees. While this is going on, the deciduous trees also minimise the radiant heat impinging on anything beyond them, including the house.

    Less radiant heat allows the householder to fight the small spot fires that will occur in any grass and weeds, or the garden if it has dried out, and also the house will not have absorbed a lot of heat, therefore reducing the chance of it catching.

    Every home owner under those circumstances should also have a refuge of last resort. If all else fails, they need somewhere to shelter. On a farm, a dam is a good spot, years ago farmers would have a dugout made like an earth cave to shelter in, but if all else fails, then get into a clear area and cover yourself/selves with wet blankets.

    Drive around some of our beautiful bushland and see how so many people build their houses- gum trees to the door. Partly due to the fact that they are not allowed to cut the trees. See the festoons of dried bark hanging from those trees, just waiting for the fire! Live in some of those areas and try to plant a ‘European Tree’ and the green element will destroy it.

    I hope that current events make government and councils re-think the whole situation and that they realise that the ‘vocal green’ is certainly not a real concervationist. It is so sad, that it will have taken the death of so many people to make them see some sense.

  53. Weve been warned for years that this would happen, yet those in positions of responsibility have been negligent to the point that the current disaster was sooner or later to be expected. We now have the possibility that what has happened in Victoria is likely under the right conditions to be replicated all across Australia.

    ………………………………

    In 2006 the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) in Victoria indicated it needs extra funding to conduct more fuel reduction burns. “There is an auditor-general’s report which clearly states that fuel reduction burning targets are consistently not met, so this is a function of a failure on the part of those responsible to ensure there is this outcome that targets are met,”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/australia/vic/bendigo/200602/s1564272.htm

    The Victorian disaster had its origins about a decade or so ago when so-called ‘environmentalism’,’sustainabi lity’ and fire protection became mixed.

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/bushfires

    Project Vesta demonstrated that hazard reduction by prescribed burning will reduce the rate of spread, flame height and intensity of a fire and reduce the potential for spotting. These effects may persist for a considerable time (up to 20 years) in forests containing rough-barked trees and shrubby understoreys

    http://home.vicnet.net.au/~frstfire/docs/ProjectVestaBrochure.pdf

    “Wildfire hazard abatement is one of the major reasons to use prescribed burning. Computer simulation, case studies, and analysis of the fire regime in the presence of active prescribed burning programs in forest and shrubland generally indicate that this fuel management tool facilitates fire suppression efforts by reducing the intensity, size and damage of wildfires”

    http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WF02042.htm

  54. In 1994 the area I live in Sydney (Sutherland Shire) came under threat of fire. I remember standing there watching a whole hillside of over 100 houses burning down. As I designed many of the new houses to replace the old I saw the terrible destruction – power tools liquefying and running down the footpath, houses turned to nothing but ash. Then as now many years of fuel buildup contributed to fire storms and yet now our governments are even more lax in reducing fire risks than what they were then.

  55. ATTN: Joseph M

    Vigorous fire supression in central BC since ca 1920-30’s have resulted in a vast mature lodgepole pine forest that has been recently destroyed by the mountain pine beetle, which has killed an area the size of Vancouver Island. If there is a dry spring and summer this year, this whole region will go up in flames and Yellowstone will look like a small campfire..

  56. “Gerard (00:42:15) :

    According to CSIRO and now being parroted by politicians the fires are the result of climate change and we need to be prepared for an increasing frequency regime of devasting fires as global warming increases our summer temperatures.”

    Yup! The media are now milking it for all they can.

  57. Dane: To a true believer, the fact that his ideology has caused hundreds of deaths proves nothing. It just goes to show that people have yet to do it right — it’s always the fault of the imperfect followers, never the fault of the ideology itself.

    A former friend of mine once insisted to me that the death tolls of the USSR and the PRC proved only that they weren’t real communists… hence the term “former”.

  58. There are odd aspects of this case, Here is the original newspaper report. They actually cleared 100 metres around their house, which is certainly a large firebreak. They may have had other motives. You can see from the photo that after the clearing, there are still a number of large eucalypts around the house.

  59. I normally comment with my full name, but in this case I wish to avoid involving others. My land is on the mid-north coast of NSW. Earlier this year, an accidental burn in nearby state forest was maintained using aviation fuel until two compartments were burnt out.

    In the peculiar conditions of the last few weeks, we experienced wind, heat and humidity without rain while fires were raging in the south of the continent. (I say peculiar, because the wind was constantly from the north and north-east, unlike heat-wave conditions experienced in recent decades, which have been dominated by inland westerlies. PDO? Back to the fifties?)

    The burning of those two compartments meant I was relatively safe through the dangerous period. It also replicated in a rough way the kind of systematic burn that aborigines used for millennia. The notion that eucalypts could be protected beyond six metres is startling, especially in southern states where crown-fires have an unimaginable potential for destruction. There is nothing “natural” about unfired bushland, as certain of my aboriginal neighbours would confirm. These massive “hot” burns are tragedies for humans, flora and fauna, and have no place in any natural scheme.

    The disaster of the Canberra fires some years back should have taught us that our green masters are self-hating leftists without a clue or a conscience.
    Let’s roll these mullahs.

  60. twawki, I too, saw those houses burning from my verandah at Woronora Heights! Many of them burnt from the inside because of the radiant heat through the windows set the furnishings alight.
    A firefighter has just stated on the ABC television that it can take up to 2 years to receive permission to hazard reduce. 2 bloody years! Words fail me.

  61. I don’t remember any other comments section on WUWT with this much raw emotion, and well deserved.

    There is no “other side”. The “greens” are wrong. Period.

    People who live in an area prone to burning should be able to defend their lives and property. Telling them not to live there is just…. retarded. I’ve never heard anyone tell city dwellers that they’re responsible for UHI and they should move, or farmers in tornado prone areas they should move (that would pretty much include most of North America).

    We have opposable thumbs and are tool users. We adapt our immediate environment to make ourselves comfortable and safe. We cut down trees around our property to protect our lives and our homes. Why is this difficult?

    I also have heard some of my “green” leaning acquaintances spouting their opinions, and they disgust me. Not using firefighting equipment because of emissions? For crying out loud, how much CO2 was emitted getting REPORTERS to and around the scenes?

    The insanity of the last 20 years of “green” crap will have to get worse before the mainstream realizes it was a failed idealism. I hope enough of us survive.

  62. VG (19:56:06) :

    This is only the tip of the iceberg re this story. If you read today’s Australian they (green’s) also banned controlled fire clearing in 2007. Also another Australian put up a recent post at WUWT that his boss had offered various aircraft to water down the fires (before the fires) but the Victorian Government (or greens in parliament refused because “those planes” contributed to too many emissions….There you go… very very sad and very very stupid

    I asked an australian friend about that. His response was:

    “The real problem with this sort of large aeroplane is the huge recycle time. It has to land on a proper airstrip, fill with water, take off, then fly CONSIDERABLE distance to the fire. You could be talking a 15 – 30 minute cycle. That’s futile.

    The heavy choppers (Sky Cranes) we use for fire-fighting stay near the fire. They hover over a dam or a pool, suck up water in something like 30 – 60 seconds, and then fly for maybe 30 – 60 seconds to the fire front and dump. They are carrying a fair bit of water each time, and cycle fast. We have a LOT of these choppers, and use them intensely.”

  63. Nick Stokes (03:14:22) :

    There are odd aspects of this case, Here is the original newspaper report. They actually cleared 100 metres around their house, which is certainly a large firebreak. They may have had other motives. You can see from the photo that after the clearing, there are still a number of large eucalypts around the house.

    IT’S HOT IN AUSTRALIA. Shade from trees directly next to the house is welcome, and needed. Having a good sized firebreak between those and the surrounding woodland is JUST GOOD COMMONSENSE.

  64. “A Department of Environment spokeswoman confirmed yesterday it had received a public submission to list controlled burning as a “key threatening process” – the same category that applies to climate change, land clearing and feral cats, pigs and foxes.”

    “The federal Environment Department’s spokeswoman declined to name the applicant behind the proposal to list controlled burning as a “key threatening process”.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25042644-5018722,00.html

  65. Hey DJA yeah I got the wife and kids out and the fire hit the top of my valley in Kareela another 5 minutes and my street would have gone. Then a wind change occurred – a southerly buster came through and took out the adjoining suburbs of Como West etc. When walking around with those who lost their homes later they talked of how for years they had asked Sutherland Council to back burn the growing fuel of leaf and branch litter up to 10 feet deep and were ignored. When the fire hit and raced up the hill the radiant heat was so intense it caused flash point in many houses that caused the explosions you saw. Yet when I look around now in the Shire and up the Blue Mountains (have friends up there) the fuel load is much higher than Ive ever seen it.

  66. That Nancy evidently sees the 247 trees “killed” as a more heinous crime than the 181 (and counting) of her fellow human beings that she and her rabid ilk have sacrificed to Gaia is, to me, the most disturbing thing I have heard this last week.

    If such views continue to carry even a modicum of influence over policy formulation at the Federal, State and local level, we are doomed to revisit this horror.

    Liam Sheahan stands as a monument to those of us who take a more considered approach to sustainability and rail against brainwashed greenies and criminally incompetent bureaucrats.

    Nonetheless, the spotlight will remain on the hunt for and prosecution of “mass murdering arsonists” who, while deserving to suffer the full extent of the law, only serve to shift the focus from the true culprits.

    Nancy can best serve Gaia (a concept, incidentally, she clearly misunderstands by presupposing a separation between it and us) by offering herself up as a nutrient source for her beloved trees.

  67. Dear Code Tech,

    Have you asked your greenie acquaintances if they would decline a call out of fire services if their own property was burning – and spare themselves the embarrassment of all those CO2 emissions being expended upon them ?

    A personal sacrifice they would be prepared to make for future generations ?

  68. “The contractors were out working on the fire lines. They put in containment lines and cleared off some of the fire trails. Two weeks later that fire broke out, but unfortunately those trails had been blocked up again [by greens] to turn it back to its natural state … Instances like that are just too numerous to mention”

    “Near Dubbo two years ago, as a bushfire raged through the Goonoo Community Conservation Area, volunteer firefighters bulldozing a control line were obstructed by National Parks and Wildlife Service employees who had driven from Sydney to stop vegetation being damaged.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/green-ideas-must-take-blame-for-deaths-20090211-84mk.html

  69. I southern Spain, where similar fire risks pertain, there are large, maintained firebreaks cut along ridges and across hillsides. Not as pretty as nature intended, but a lot prettier than a massive fire devastated area. There was a fire burning on the side of Puig Campagna as i flew into Alicante 3 weeks ago. They were using army personnel to tackle it, and aircraft carrying water. The firebreaks made their job easier, and much safer.

  70. There have been at least two Royal Commissions into “bush fires”. None of the recomendations as an output from those commissions have been implemented (Apparently).

  71. I grew up in the country – my family were pioneers in our area in the mid 1800s – so I’m sympathetic to the Sheahans as we were always told to clear any burnable material away from houses – but to be blunt if they wanted to live in bare paddocks they shouldn’t’ve bought a forested block. There’s lots of bare land in Australia if that’s what they wanted.

    No doubt the denizens of this board would love to be able to blame the “greenies” – whoever they are – for the fires, but the allegations being aired on this board are derived from at best third-hand sources – internet links to a brief media report of a single comment at a community meeting alleging that the council hadn’t allowed the person in question to clear trees. There has been no independent evidence offered that Nitmiluk shire did have the alleged policies forbidding tree clearing or that any Green party was responsible for those policies if they did exist. But for a lot of people unsubstantiated allegations seem to be good enough.

    And as one expert noted in today’s Age, given the strength of the firestorm – the ferocity of which I doubt anyone here can even comprehend – even massive clearing wouldn’t’ve helped. There was a property noted in today’s Age that had 16 hectares of cleared land around it and the owner had proper fire pumps and a full dam, and he still died and the house was still destroyed. The smaller fire that started next door to my parents’ farm was jumping 200m at a time – so a clearance of 30 m still wouldn’t help much.

    The real problem in the area north-east of Melbourne is that over the last 20 years lots of people have been allowed to move into very dangerous forested areas and to build substandard, non-fire proof housing in those areas. There have been plenty of warnings about the issue, but succcesive governments have apparently been determined to ignore it in the interests of having cheap housing for people who couldn’t afford housing closer to Melbourne. This policy failure was compounded by a “leave early or stay and fight” policy that just didn’t work in this instance because of the extreme conditions. And, it has to be said, a lot of people just didn’t take the situation seriously enough: there’s been lots of comments about TV footage broadcast last Friday of some locals drinking beers while playing a garden hose around their roof – that attitude just won’t cut it in 48 C / 80+ km winds, after 12 years of drought (caused by climate change) and a week of 40+C weather.

  72. “I don’t remember any other comments section on WUWT with this much raw emotion, and well deserved.

    There is no “other side”. The “greens” are wrong. Period.”

    Close down this blog, there is no need for debate ‘codetech’ (whoever he is) has spoken!

    “People who live in an area prone to burning should be able to defend their lives and property. Telling them not to live there is just…. retarded. I’ve never heard anyone tell city dwellers that they’re responsible for UHI and they should move, or farmers in tornado prone areas they should move (that would pretty much include most of North America).

    We have opposable thumbs and are tool users. We adapt our immediate environment to make ourselves comfortable and safe. We cut down trees around our property to protect our lives and our homes. Why is this difficult?

    I also have heard some of my “green” leaning acquaintances spouting their opinions, and they disgust me. Not using firefighting equipment because of emissions? For crying out loud, how much CO2 was emitted getting REPORTERS to and around the scenes?

    The insanity of the last 20 years of “green” crap will have to get worse before the mainstream realizes it was a failed idealism. I hope enough of us survive.”

    A lot of the opinions here today have been vile, your rant offers little more than the kind of ‘I’m right, you lot are idiots’ nonsense we often see on the net bar some extra fury and invective. Go easy, and try to behave towards those you disagree with with a modicum of respect else you’ll blow a gasket!

    REPLY: Peter, since you say nothing other than your disagreement with this particular comment, then are we to assume that you agree with the decisions of the councils there? – Anthony

  73. tallbloke (03:33:58) :

    The heavy choppers (Sky Cranes) we use for fire-fighting stay near the fire. They hover over a dam or a pool, suck up water in something like 30 – 60 seconds, and then fly for maybe 30 – 60 seconds to the fire front and dump. They are carrying a fair bit of water each time, and cycle fast. We have a LOT of these choppers, and use them intensely.”

    OK the chopper travels 120 miles an hour. So from a dead stop in 30 to 60 seconds they can travel 1 or 2 miles. Even in Eastern Canada it can require travel of 10 to 20 miles for a body of water large enough for a refill. How far in an arid region under drought?

    Sorry but the excess emissions excuse sound more like bull emissions, and not the methane.

  74. Alan Wilkinson (23:50:53) :

    “any that do will have to spend at least $20,000 more to comply with yet more regulations on building standards.”

    Alan

    That was a single comment in a single article in the Age, quoting an unsourced comment – I have the article in front of me:

    “Experts say that forcing residents on Melbourne fringe to build high-tech, fire resistant housing could add $20,000 to the cost of a home”.

    – which experts? The Age didn’t identify any.

    – where did these experts say it? There’s been nobody in the media saying anything of the sort.

    – “high-tech, fire resistant housing” – actually fire-resistant housing doesn’t have to be high-tech: there’s nothing “high-tech” about hebel brick or steel building frames or fly-screens over gables. The thing is that Victoria has been allowing buildings that aren’t allowed in NSW – I was in Sydney on Monday and the local press were noting that a lot of the housing that burnt so quickly wouldn’t’ve been permitted in NSW or, as I understand it, any other state.

    And as the Age noted, the proposed changes would “[end] the common practice of building flammable houses in fire-prone bush”.

    – “could add $20,000″ – how was this figure arrived at? Is that a percentage amount? Or was it just plucked out of the air? It reminds me of the articles I see saying that green houses (e.g., solar passive) cost more – how is that possible when green houses are mostly about proper orientation to the sun, not materials?

  75. Don’t forget the Polar Bears! If we cut down the trees what will happen to the Polar Bears! or the baby Seals.

    (You know that argument is coming)

  76. oh, Nancy, my heart bleeds for your stupidity. Liam Sheahan is not a bastard, we have the same mother and father,God rest his soul, and they were married. My brother is a highly intelligent, capable, christian man with no hate in him. He has a wealth of fire brigade experience and knew what he was doing. He cleared with an intent to replant with fire retardent species. this had recently been completed, hundreds of tubestock natives had been purchased and planted. If you look carefully in the background of the photo you can see the remnants of the protective sleeves from around the plants. He cleared only 3% of his land. I am prud to be his sister and I am a horticulturist, we consulted on this subject for some time and looking out for the environment as well as fire protection had equal priority. God Bless all those affected.

  77. Anthony, I’m not an Australian, so I’m trying to learn what is going on. What is currently going on here on this blog atm is a series of pretty damn obnoxious ventings and precious little light shining.

    Lets, please, hear the justification for some of these ‘greenie’ policies. Lets see if what is said of the ‘greenies’ by those who so clearly really detest (or worse) such people is actually right. Lets hope a ‘greenie’ speaks and, lets hope the verbal assault on them that, clearly, will follow isn’t too violent.

    I don’t, ever, convict anyone on the basis of the case for the prosecution. yet, all we have heard so far is the shouted case for the prosecution. It simply can’t be as simple as ‘they are idiots’!

    REPLY: Sometimes in the case of government actions, ‘they are idiots’ is in fact the most apt description. This may be one of those cases. Here in California the greens have gone about their business as if nothing ever happened when confronted with policy issues related to the Lake Tahoe fire. – Anthony

  78. thanks for providing the original article.

    looks like these points are important and haven t been discussed so far:

    In a letter tendered to the court ,the Sheahans told the complaining resi-dents and the council to ‘‘getstuffed’ ’when asked to explain the clearing.

    and

    Sheahans bulldozed 295 trees, some 40 years old, without applying to Mitchell Shire for a permit.

  79. Ed MacAulay (05:12:11) :

    tallbloke (03:33:58) :

    The heavy choppers (Sky Cranes) we use for fire-fighting stay near the fire. They hover over a dam or a pool, suck up water in something like 30 – 60 seconds, and then fly for maybe 30 – 60 seconds to the fire front and dump. They are carrying a fair bit of water each time, and cycle fast. We have a LOT of these choppers, and use them intensely.”

    OK the chopper travels 120 miles an hour. So from a dead stop in 30 to 60 seconds they can travel 1 or 2 miles. Even in Eastern Canada it can require travel of 10 to 20 miles for a body of water large enough for a refill. How far in an arid region under drought?

    Sorry but the excess emissions excuse sound more like bull emissions, and not the methane.

    Actually, a lot of individual properties in australia have their own dams and pools.
    Check the photos on the thread where my friend commented.

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=12706&startat=260

  80. Arapiles wrote: but the allegations being aired on this board are derived from at best third-hand sources – internet links … snip
    … after 12 years of drought (caused by climate change) and a week of 40+C weather.

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    An Australian claiming that drought and +40c weather is somehow new to the continent? 12 year drought due to climate change? Real climate change would equate to Melbourne receiving 2500 mm of rainfall each year for 12 years.

  81. Yeah, its the greens fault that Southern Australia has been in drought for the last decade isn’t it. Maybe, just maybe it could be a hint that the theory of AGW has some basis.

    But of course with all these greenies around, we’ll be up to our armpits in owls! You people really need to stop listening to the same old conservative BS.

    Actually I have something to confess. I currently work for a state government Wildlife Service/EPA in Australia and the consensus around the office is amazement at the lack of fire breaks, especially around the small rural townships that were devastated. And to a certain degree I do agree that some greens can go over the top.

    In the organisation that I work for (different state) there are comprehensive systems for managing and analysing controlled burns and wildfires on the parks and forests. These burns are carried out with the utmost care and impose a considerable financial burden to the organisation.

    I’m afraid that green bashing is only going to make conservatives appear more and more out of touch especially as the effects of AGW become more and more irrefutable.

  82. “Sadly, the greenies can never be called to account for such stupidities – they just disclaim responsibility and move on to the next lunacy, ”

    Time to start shootin’ yet?

  83. Who did start in the world all this green madness?. I think WUWT is the proper place to post the historical facts around this pseudo religious movement. If more steps are taken “against global warming” or “climate change” more people will die, while others profit on it.

  84. Philip Bratby

    “Nevertheless I continue to do woodland coppicing and hedge-laying on my property. I just hope that these ancient practices are allowed to continue. The people of times-gone-by who lived intimately with nature knew what they were doing.”

    So do we! And, as you must know, many County wildlife trusts also do such things in their reserves. To try and imply that ‘greenies’ in the UK might want to ban such practices is quite absurd.

  85. sod (05:56:00) : Let’s discuss those points, Sod. Do you think the people should not have cleared a fire break around their house on their own land? Do you think trees are more important than people’s lives?

    You do realize that fires there are part of a natural cycle, right? If those trees were 40 years old, it’s because the Green-influenced government has been supressing fires and preventing fire breaks for years. Fires happen; trees burn.

    Anyone who advocates not allowing fire breaks around homes in fire-prone areas should “get stuffed”. If the government wants the land as a nature preserve they have only to buy it, otherwise they are morally bound to let the owners defend their own lives from the inevitable fires.

    This was so very predictable that local officials should prosecuted for manslaughter.

  86. kinda makes you wish those who pass and enforce those laws were caught in a brush fire without a bulldozer.

  87. Peter Hearnden:

    I’m sorry you don’t “get it”.

    The natural state of most forest is growth, burn, growth, burn. As we encroach into forested areas it is a requirement to control the burnable parts, either by deliberately setting small fires or clearing areas to protect our structures. It’s not optional.

    Unfortunately, the “greenies” as I derisively call them think that the “natural state” is “sustainable”. Somehow they forget the “burn” part of “natural state”. Debris from trees and underbrush pile on the forest floor, dry out, and create a fire hazard. This must be removed somehow, or it WILL burn eventually. Yes, even in the “natural state”.

    We all know these people. They live in a fantasy world. They want log homes nestled within the uncleared forest, because it’s “natural” and feels good. The city equivalent would be building a gasoline moat around your home. In order to maintain this “natural state” they ban others from clearing or protecting.

    Again I ask, why is this hard? It’s a ridiculously simple concept, and yet you seem unable to comprehend why anyone here is upset!

    If you owned a home surrounded by inflammable fuel, with your family and belongings in that home, I guarantee you’re not going to allow someone else to tell you that you can’t remove fuel or clear a space around your home. If you had that gasoline moat around your house, I guarantee you’ll spend a lot of time watching out the windows to make sure passers-by don’t throw their cigarette butts in your direction!

    The frightening and ANGERING part about this is that this isn’t even a simile, and it’s not hyperbole! These homeowners were FORBIDDEN to do the most basic protection of their own lives and property! They were NOT ALLOWED to disrupt someone else’s idea of a “pristine” forest!

    Again… why is this hard? What “other side” is there? People DIED, houses and priceless possessions were lost. The forest doesn’t care a whit about the efforts to “maintain it” or keep it “pristine”, it did what it will always do.

  88. ““We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down…””

    You gotta love his style, direct and to the point, and totally irreverent. Good for him!

    Governments are run by crooks and morons. If more people understood that we’ve have a lot less government. And that would be a great benefit to the people.

  89. Time for greenie / enviormentalists to answer some hard questions about their positions. I’m tired of the well it’s a drought excuse or he broke the law.
    Remember Vistoria

  90. I see a class-action lawsuit in the making. If I were these folks who’ve lost loved-ones and property you bet your a– that I would be getting together with my neighbors and starting a lawsuit. Also Mr Sheehan should get involved to get his $100,000 back plus interest. Also these “dickheads” should be impeached or thrown out of office.

  91. What is debate?

    45 Years ago Aussie wildland fire/building interface regulations addressed one common sense value – after the fire. No CLEARANCE no rebuild (thru their FEMA) help. My limited viewing of today’s fire lose in these deadly Australian events, via satellite mapping, the images of burned out homes and space looks identical to those in California 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 etc. etc. Not enough clearance, poor Interface housekeeping.

    Pre 49er days in California the inhabitants of this mediterranean climate understood “don’t play with fire unless you know Prometheus”. This included living in a severe fire hazard zone. Most of these earliest users of the land, without formal academic preparation or written language, would handle the application of forest modification to increase food production, interpreting weather, farming ‘acorn orchards’. All through the use of fire.

    Newer citizens began the use of timber harvesting. The same ridge tops that the first users kept OPEN for food gathering and travel were kept relatively the same with timber logging. There were some timber-sustained yield abuses, all fixable by 1960. Not all were fixed even by 1990. Fifty yrs ago a California forester spent 75% in the forest, 25% in the office. Today????? 75% at a computer.

    California scientific-political managing of open space Sonoran-Conifer Zones began in the 1980’s. The Sonoran zone was managed by fire with the first users, then post 1849er days grazing with cows/sheep. ‘Open’ ridge tops were kept open with more grasses than ladder fuels. Unwanted fires may only be stopped on open ridge tops and in most cases a ‘ground fire’. If these ridge tops have severe fire-fuel loading-ladder fuels ( left to nature), no fire will be stopped. A grazing experiment in Southern California post WW1 to maintain open ridge-fuel breaks occurred. Interestingly the only problem is that sheep and goats did not understand “stay and eat within 100 ft of the ridge line”. Another study in 1977 (earlier study flawed said experts, participant people were “not fully prepared to analyse data”) and their conclusion the sheep and goats (cost of transportation $1.5M) did not understand “eat only within 100 ft of the ridge line”. There is currently a NEW concept of using sheep and goats to create fuel breaks around urban interface S. California. Will a study precede such an odd NEW idea?

    Yellowstone fire in 88′ followed the bug kill (mostly lodge pole). There are Fed aerial maps before and after that substantiate the event burn pattern. Once these fires over-taxed logistical potential of fire suppression, there would not be any containment until the snow came.

  92. NEWS RELEASE #09–32 February 16, 2009 DNR News (803) 667-0696

    PRESCRIBED BURNS AT JOCASSEE GORGES
    RESTORING HABITAT, IMPROVING SAFETY

    Many species and ecosystems require fire periodically to ensure their survival, and that’s why prescribed burns are a part of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ management of the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges. People in the Upstate might see smoke signals emerging from the mountaintops north of SC 11 in Pickens County in the next month or so.
    “The objective of the prescribed burns going on this winter is to maintain the ecological integrity of these lands,” said Mark Hall, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologist and forest planner, “and to provide for human safety by reducing the amount of fuel, thereby reducing the chance of catastrophic wildfire. For many of these ecosystems, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ they will burn, but rather ‘when.’ We like to choose the ‘when.’”
    Burning will be done when the weather is suitable to allow for a safe burn, including the rapid rising and dispersal of smoke, Hall said. Once weather conditions are right for the burn, it should take four to eight hours for the active burning to be completed, although scattered stumps, logs and dead trees may smolder slowly through the night. Fires will be surrounded by fire breaks, which include existing preserve roads, streams, plowed fire breaks and breaks put in with hand tools in sensitive areas.
    “Through the centuries, many native plants, animals and habitats in the southeastern United States have adapted to the presence of recurring fire,” Hall said. “Many species and ecosystems are now rare because of fire suppression, and they actually need fire to ensure their survival. We’ve burned about 2,000 acres in the last four years to help restore natural process in the system.”
    Hall emphasized that since controlled burning requires careful timing and a thorough knowledge of weather and fire behavior, highly trained fire personnel with the DNR and S.C. Forestry Commission will manage and conduct all aspects of the controlled burns.
    “Besides the ecological benefits of prescribed fire, it also has the added benefit of reducing fuel on the forest floor and lessening the chances of a catastrophic fire, which can threaten homes and people,” Hall said. “Because fire has been suppressed for so long in some places, you get dangerous buildups of fuel and increase the chances for a wildfire that can destroy property and lives. The wildfires we’ve seen across the United States in the last 15 years, due in large part to past fire suppression, underscore the need for prescribed fire.”
    By using a controlled burn—when wind, temperature and humidity conditions are appropriate to remove some of the forest fuel like leaves, pine needles and twigs—fire managers can greatly reduce the chances of a catastrophic wildfire. After controlled burns are completed, the homes and properties close to Jocassee Gorges will be much less likely to be in the path of a wildfire, because the fuel is reduced or eliminated.
    Optimal weather conditions will be chosen for smoke dispersal, but Hall advised that during these controlled burns nearby residents will certainly see and smell smoke. The smoke usually disappears by the end of the day.
    “People become upset when there is smoke in the air if they don’t know the reason for the fire,” Hall said. “That’s why we’re trying to get the word out about prescribed fire. If we carefully plan and conduct a burn when weather conditions favor smoke dispersal, this reduces smoke-related problems. Dealing with a little bit of smoke now is infinitely better than trying to control a raging wildfire later.”
    DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people. Find out more about DNR at http://www.dnr.sc.gov.
    #

  93. Re:Smiley (06:31:03) :

    So the conservatives will come out looking bad and not the greenies? What kind of weed are YOU smoking? You’ll be lucky if you have a job after this debacle!

  94. Yet another case of the enviro-weenies’ foolishness costing human life. Heaven forbid we cut down trees (which get burnt down anyway) rather than save people’s lives and property!

    It would be nothing if not fitting if the moronic bean-counters prosecuting this brave family died in a fire…

  95. Anyone who has ever BEEN in a fire, knows the folly of leaving dead brush standing. Anyone who has made their living outside understand TRUE land management.
    Agencies full of people who stop responsible land management are busy bodies.
    Come out & live on the land a while & see how it REALLY is.
    I applaud this man & his family.
    My brother in law’s ranch in the Kraft Springs fire in E MT some years back almost burned the whole property down.
    Forest service was reluctant to come & help & area ranchers had to do most of the work before the slurry planes came in.
    Guess who started the fire?
    Forest service. Oh, accidentally of course.

  96. @Peter Hearnden (05:31:00) :
    “Lets, please, hear the justification for some of these ‘greenie’ policies.

    It simply can’t be as simple as ‘they are idiots’!”

    It usually is, regardless of how many words the justification uses.
    A small example this brings to mind was a new law in the 80s in (parts of) Germany that greatly restricted the felling of trees by homeowners. Danger for a house was not going to be an easy excuse (and if I remember correctly, trees above a certain size would be considered particularly protected).
    I don’t remember the justification blather, other than that it didn’t address the fact that insurance still wouldn’t pay if you knew that a tree was at risk of falling on your house but you didn’t fell it (regardless of legal obstacles).

    In my parents’ woodsy neighborhood, there was binge-felling of trees between announcement and effective-date of the new law, as anys tree that had any chance of perhaps soon becoming a risk (and, if I remember correctly (see above) very tall trees) were now being cut down just in case while it was still legal, rather than illegal with a tiny chance of getting special permission.
    Unintended consequences, and then some.

    (Different from most of their neighbors, my parents were able to continue to slowly cull (i.e. whenever needed) iffy trees around the majority of their property which wasn’t not visible from the road… In 2007, windstorm Kyrill (100+ mph) hit the area and broke vast numbers of trees, incl. onto buildings, cars, and roads. My parents lost only 2 of their 50+ trees, causing damage only to one paddock fence, no building damage, and no tree-on-tree damage)

  97. The same happens in the US: No one can cut down their trees unless it obstructs the view from an oceanside, 7,000 square ft mansion in the Hamptons or Cape Cod, or it is situation on a ski slope in Jackson Hole or Wyoming. Oh, and you have to vote democrat and not pay taxes. Then you are allowed to cut down your trees, because you nephew drives a Prius.

  98. A man who takes a stand on his own property is a criminal? Greenshirted EnviroNazis would much prefer to see people die. They don’t seem to be able to grasp the fact that many fires start from lightning strikes.

    There exists a species of pine in the western U.S. which bears a cone that withstands every force on earth except one: fire. The heat of a fire causes the cone to open. No fire, no new trees.

    God bless Liam Sheahan, and those like him, who are good stewards of the earth.

  99. Nothing will change if the people in government that do such a bad job are fired or held financially responsible. It never happens. The worst that happens is the government agency pay out and the responsible people get a promotion or retire at 85% of their last salary. Not much of a penalty for screwing up and in this case actually killing people.

    First we ~snip~ the government employees and then the lawyers–jukin’s mod to the great Bard.

  100. How do the morons get into the position to terrorize an average Joe who appears to be much wiser than the idiots calling shots and making law. They should be shot then hung to make sure they are of no further danger to the average Joe,public..

  101. The “dickheads” should be charged with the murder of every person who died in the fires and they should be executed. Nothing less is justified.

  102. The fools who passed the law and the fools who ruled against this family should be named publicly and prosecuted for murder.

    The fools had the power. They are responsible and should be punished for their decisions.

  103. BWitt (09:40:26) :

    Good to see South Carolina is operating good stewardship of their forests.

    I’m an environmentalist, NOT an Environmentalist, there’s a difference.

    I’ve had the argument about wildfires being caused by excessive fire suppression too many times now. I don’t want to see this happen ever again, unfortunately I will.

    I offer my deepest sympathy to the people of Australia for this devastation and hope someone will learn the lessons.

    DaveE.

  104. It comes to my mind the expression: “GREEN – GO” (invented when Mexicans wanted green dressed american soldiers to go out from his territory) which could be applied to the new greens invading science, and peoples’ private territory.

  105. You know what will happen now, don’t you? They will order his house be destroyed to be fair to those who lost their homes for following the law. It’s not fair they followed the law and lost, while he gets to keep his home after breaking the law.

    It wouldn’t surprise me one bit. People all over the planet seem to be losing their minds, and we keep giving them power over us. I hope we wake up before it is too late, though I suspect it already is.

  106. Global warming activists like Tim Flannery and Clive Hamilton have been quick to blame the extreme weather conditions that helped turn Victoria’s bushfires into a fire storm solely on increased levels of carbon dioxide. This simplistic argument has been shown to be false by research at the University of Queensland led by Dr Clive McAlpine that demonstrates that 150 years of land clearing has added to the warming and drying of eastern Australia leading to increases in temperature and decreasing humidity. Australian native vegetation holds more moisture than broadacre crops and improved pastures, and this moisture evaporates and recycles back as rainfall and also raises humidity. It also reflects less shortwave solar radiation into space, and this process keeps the surface temperature cooler and aids cloud formation. As high pressure systems slowly pass the southern part of the continent over summer the air they draw down from the north, over cleared land, has been getting hotter and dryer and helps explain this summer’s heat wave that probably made these bushfires more intense than those of Black Friday in 1939 and Ash Wednesday in 1983.

    Reducing the chances of future extreme weather events then does not solely depend on reducing CO2 emissions but in restoring vegetation to critical parts of New South Wales and Queensland. Use of CO2 as a scapegoat for extreme weather events has blinded us from looking for the real influences on regional climate systems. Clearly Tim and Clive are spending too much time jet setting about the climate change conference circuit and should be spending more time in the library.

    For a copy of the journal article see:
    McAlpine C. A., J. Syktus, R. C. Deo, P. J. Lawrence, H. A. McGowan, I. G. Watterson, S. R. Phinn (2007), Modeling the impact of historical land cover change on Australia’s regional climate, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L22711, doi:10.1029/2007GL031524. http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2007GL031524.shtml

  107. 13times (06:21:57) :

    “An Australian claiming that drought and +40c weather is somehow new to the continent? 12 year drought due to climate change? Real climate change would equate to Melbourne receiving 2500 mm of rainfall each year for 12 years.”

    There are no precedents for this drought or the temperatures we had last weekend. The previous extremes, set in 1939 in similar circumstances, weren’t slightly exceeded – they were smashed. An official temp of 48.8 C at Hopetoun? Avalon getting to 47.8? Do you have any concept of what those temperatures feels like or how far from normal they are?

    Feel free to keep on seeing climate change as a greenie/commie/lefty plot, the rest of us will get on with dealing with reality.

  108. Jesus! I thought women glowed and men thundered in the Land Down Under. I guess it was just a song. What a bunch of government mandated wimps they’ve become. Sorry to all the manly men in Austrailia.

  109. Interesting too how the Extremist Enviros are choosy about which natural threats they fear. If it’s the eucalyptus trees in the Ozzie Outback, well then they must be protected at all costs, even if that endangers humans. And those outbackers, well, they should be living in urban high rises anyway.

    But if it’s the Gulf floodwaters entering New Orleans, LA, well, then we need huge new bureaucracies to build dykes, levies, walls, and other protection and warning systems to save each and every house. Especially those in the “poor” wards.

    So let’s see:
    Trees = Good, Water = Bad, CO2 = Bad, Glaciers = Good (except in Antarctica), Animals = Good, Humans = Bad, etc.

    Any other simplistic Enviro Extreme reductions I need to add?

  110. I sensed the AGW alarmists were getting desperate, but I never dreamed they’d advance their cause by enacting laws that ensured massive Australian bush fires, and thereby adding heat to the atmosphere. These people are even more devious than I thought.

  111. WRT the current Australian Drought Conditions.

    An article at

    http://www3.aims.gov.au/docs/publications/waypoint/003/headlines-03.html

    Spells out that dry periods of up to 20 years have occurred in Australia back in the 1600s, well before industrialisation. As a consequence the current drought (in SE Australia – I doubt that someone living in the current Queensland Floods (NE Australia would claim “drought” conditions ref http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/queensland/north-queensland-floods/2009/02/04/1233423294938.html ) can not be confidently attributed to climate change (I assume that your are actually referring to AGW caused by man made emissions of CO2).

    Mind – the data is based on a coral core proxy, the idea being that the corals are impacted by the amount of fresh water coming out of the rivers, with more Fresh water in wet years and less in dry years.

    The http://www.aims.gov.au/ site is somewhat politicised towards AGW – so to have them suggest long dry periods have occurred in the past that can’t be attributed to increased CO2 actually lends some weight to the idea.

  112. WRT the current Australian Drought Conditions.

    An article at

    http://www3.aims.gov.au/docs/publications/waypoint/003/headlines-03.html

    Spells out that dry periods of up to 20 years have occurred in Australia back in the 1600s, well before industrialisation.

    As a consequence the current drought…

    (Principally in SE Australia – I doubt that someone living in the current Queensland Floods, NE Australia, would claim “drought” conditions ref http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/queensland/north-queensland-floods/2009/02/04/1233423294938.html )

    …can not be confidently attributed to climate change (I assume that posters claiming the current drought conditions are attributed to climate change are actually referring to AGW caused by man made emissions of CO2).

    Mind – the data is based on a coral core proxy, the idea being that the corals are impacted by the amount of fresh water coming out of the rivers, with more fresh water in wet years and less in dry years.

    The http://www.aims.gov.au/ site is somewhat politicised towards AGW – so to have them suggest long dry periods have occurred in the past that can’t be attributed to increased CO2 actually lends some weight to the idea.

    Dry conditions, hot Northerly winds (off Central Australia) are common place in Victoria during summer and have been for as long as records exist. These sorts oif factors need to be accepted and planned for.

    Eucalyptus forests are perfect for bushfires.

    A lack of effective “Fuel Control” is without doubt a major contributing factor to the intensity of the current fires.

    The very fast, hot winds exacerbated the speed of the fires which made responding to them in time extremely difficult. No one waits around to be burned by a bushfire. Local reports say that the fires went from smoke on the Horizon to “here” in 2 minutes.

    The loss of Human life is absolutely tragic.

    Born in Victoria, Current resident of Melbourne, and I’ve lived most of my life in the state.

  113. It’s okay there are plenty of dickheads in the united states that are doing the same thing, forcing forests, parks and people to keep from creating firebreaks because of a field rat or some other moronic cause. Leave it to Green and Envirotards to cause death and destruction from their misguided idiocy.

  114. Arapiles (12:58:35) :

    There are no precedents for this drought or the temperatures we had last weekend. The previous extremes, set in 1939 in similar circumstances, weren’t slightly exceeded – they were smashed. An official temp of 48.8 C at Hopetoun? Avalon getting to 47.8? Do you have any concept of what those temperatures feels like or how far from normal they are?

    Try a 20 year dry spell starting in 1640 Ref http://www3.aims.gov.au/docs/publications/waypoint/003/headlines-03.html …Or did the AGW mouthpiece “Australian Institute of Marine Science” get it wrong?

    Regarding temperatures in Australia – you have records going back to when???

    Unprecedented???? How on earth would you – or anyone – know if it has not been hotter than 48.8C any one day in the past 1000 years, past 10,000 years, etc…

    Assertions of “Unprecedented” are simply not warranted – you don’t know – you have no evidence on which to form a valid position.

  115. If there is a class action lawsuit brought by the people who lost their homes in the Australian bush fires, will James Hansen scurry to Australia to testify; and if so, who will he testify for: the law breakers who cleared their lands to protect their homes, or the law abiders who didn’t clear their land and saw their homes (and loved ones) go up in smoke?

  116. As Barry Brook and Australian scientist notes (http://bravenewclimate.com/)….

    This was the hottest day on record on top of the driest start to a year on record on top of the longest driest drought on record on top of the hottest drought on record the implications are clear…

    The sceptics are done for in Australia now. Even the blind can see what is happening to our climate.

    AND as this moves into the courts and a Royal Commission the sceptics inability to publish science papers will be laid bare.

  117. The Storm King fire is our worst wild fire in terms of fatalities here in Colorado (also known as the South Canyon Fire) here in Colorado ( July of 1994) which killed 14 firefighters from Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon when it “blew up” during a weather front passage.
    (“blew up” or “blow up” as applied to a wild fire, is a common wild land firefighter jargon for the sudden explosive growth of a fire due to changing conditions here in the U.S.)

    About the time of the Yellowstone fires, I was working with the Office of Emergency Management as an emergency planner. During that time I took the training for a “red card” to become a wild land fire fighter, and began some research on the topic of wild land fires in built up areas as a result of events in Yellowstone. We were concerned about wild fire exposure here in Colorado as much of our forest are “fire species” such as lodge pole pine that need fire to open their pine cones and release seed.

    http://www.conifers.org/pi/pin/latifolia.htm

    In the course of that investigation for the plan development, I went out to talk to a forester for the Colorado State Forest. I brought up the issue of our beetle kill forests due to the western Pine beetle, and built up areas just west of the Metropolitan Denver Area. As luck would have it he had studied that forest area near the Evergreen and Genesee areas, and I asked him what the historical burn cycle for that forest was. His response was about every 75-80 years. At that time it had been about 75 years since the last major burns in the early 1900’s.

    We have a history of fast moving wild fires due to Chinook wind events and very low humidites in summer weather here, due to our low annual rainfall and high altitude. Fire fighters were absolutely stunned during some of the fire briefings a few years ago when they were told humidities were in the middle single digits ( no that is not a typo 6% – 8% humidities in summer temps of 80+ deg F. at 9:00 in the morning)

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,477749,00.html

    http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/06/15/colorado.wildfires/index.html

    http://denver.rockymountainnews.com/photography/fires.shtml

    Luckily we have limited our losses mostly to homes and property with the exception of the 14 fire fighters killed at the Storm King fire.

    At the time we got a bit of traction for what is called Urban Fire Interface management, where local fire protection people would go around and have public meetings or even, upon invitation, audit peoples homes and recommend to them measures they could take to protect their homes.

    The items at the top of the list were:
    (these are just off the top of my head points I have not been an active plan developer for 14 years now — retired in 1992)

    Fire equipment access — don’t force the fire equipment to drive down long narrow drives flanked by heavy brush, especially if there is not turn around room for large trucks at the end of the access road. They will simply put your house on the “not defensible list” if you do.

    Build a defensible zone around the home, circular driveways around the home and primary buildings and clear zones at least 2x the height of the local fuels. Wider if possible on the down slope side of the home. Are easy to do and use of the drive keeps it clear of brush with no real effort by the home owner.

    Trim ladder fuels on your property. (remove low hanging brush and materials that can carry fire into the tree crowns.) This prevents crowning fires and keeps natural fire in the ground cover to burn off the hot fast fuels like grass and low brush without killing mature trees.

    Manage your fire exposure:
    * Screens on all ground level entry points like crawl spaces – this keeps burning rabbits and other panicked animals from seeking refuge under your home and lighting it off , if they get caught in the fire.
    * Put screens over all eaves and gutters to limit pine duff and trash from collecting in gutters.
    * Never store firewood under your porch or patio, place it in a wood shed clear of the home.
    * build a fire cistern or pond near the home so fire trucks can draft water near your home — this could be the tie breaker if they have to decide which home to defend and which to let burn.
    * use non-combustible shingles, to prevent fire brand ignition of the roof.
    * Have fire shutters you can use to cover windows to prevent radiant heat ignition of interior furnishings. (if more than about 10% of the view out a window can be alight at one time, it will develop enough radiant heat to ignite interior furnishings.
    * place stone walks, low retaining walls, gravel drives and other non-combustible barriers so fire fighters have safe paths to retreat from a fire and stand to defend the home.

    As you can see by this report below, it is an on going project where some citizen resistance to sensible fire codes still exists. Especially when proposed fire codes bump up against home owner association rules that mandate things like cedar shake shingles.

    http://www.colofirechiefs.org/CSFCA%20Documents/2007_Fire_Code_Report.pdf

    http://dola.colorado.gov/dem/mitigation/plan_2007/Wildfire%20Mitigation%20Plan%20Update%20Draft.pdf

    Perhaps our friends in Australia can find useful information in the process we have used and the plans that were/are being developed.

    It is so sad to see so much preventable death and destruction, but wild land fire and intelligent fire management is a tough nut to crack if the local community does not get this sort of a wake up call.

    Larry

  118. Paula (05:28:36) :

    My apologies to Paula. “Nancy” doesn’t exist and is a simple character created. As noted above by a couple of people, Nancy is a parody.

    No malice or disparagement of your brother was intended. Stay safe and God bless.

    “Reply: Uh, sure looks like Nancy was being facetious to me. ~ charles the moderator”

    “Pamela Gray (07:14:54) :
    Nancy, me thinks you’ve got your tongue in cheek!!!”

  119. Interesting thread. Lotsa heat & not enough light. Too much stereotyping.

    Upfront, I’m a green, but NOT an Apocolyptic Green. FWIW, for those who know him, I’m a friend of Bob Brown and have known him since the early 70s. OTOH I’m offside with many in the green movement for being a sceptical rationalist and philosophical libertarian.

    The tragedy in Victoria was in all likelihood entirely avoidable. We have known for many long years how to avoid such losses. In the aftermath of Ash Wednesday (1983), we had many seminars for firies where we discussed what we had learnt. AFAICT not much of that has ever been implemented.

    The most important, and unexpected discovery was that weatherboard houses were no more likely to burn than brick veneer. The variable that counted was whether the house was occupied, or not. Only one occupied house burnt (at Macedon) and that was occupied by a very elderly couple.

    The leader of the seminar showed two aerial shots of the home of a “crazy greenie” who owned a partially-completed house in the middle of Cockatoo and surrounded by tall eucalypts. In the before shot it was surrounded by intact houses and afterwards by mostly burnt houses. This was his own home. He and a visiting firie from California waited for the fire front to pass. They estimated it was running close to 100 megawatts per metre. Afterwards, (20-30 minutes) they went outside to put out the embers that had accumulated under the unfinished eaves with string mops dipped into buckets. (High tech stuff this). The gutters were filled with water some time before. Mostly, it’s that simple.

    Stuff that helps: stainless steel flywire, or shutters to reflect radiant heat that cracks window glass and thus allows flying embers into the house interior. At that time there was no evidence of radiant heat alone causing interiors to burn and I’m sceptical of such current claims.

    If you are likely to be caught in a vehicle, you should carry woollen blankets. Five (IIRC) firies at Cockatoo saved themselves by crawling under a large woollen blanket laid on the ground while the firefront passed. Their truck was totally destroyed.

    I spent 13 years in the volunteer fire brigade after moving to the bush nearly 30 years ago. I well remember a newcomer calling us out to a fire in the spring one year. We stood and watched the bush near her home burn. She asked why we weren’t “doing anything about the fire”. I explained that we were doing something; we were admiring it. She angrily asked why we thought that would do anything useful. I explained that we thought it most admirable that this little (3-4 MW/m) fire meant we didn’t have to come back and save her house from burning in that summer, or several summers for that matter. She still wasn’t happy with us for refusing to put the fire out.

    Sadly, those who have posted about the tragic loss of trees, stock and wildlife caused by high level burns are correct. It always dismays me when the birds fall dead out of the sky and we find wallabies, sheep and cattle dying in agony.

    One poster said it wasn’t greenies that voted for the greenie councillors who have shut down hazard reduction burns thus contributing to the bushfire tragedy. That’s simply not true! I’ve never heard of a rural council election where there were only green candidates.

    F Rasmin said: “Even in bad droughts, the coastal areas are never in danger of bushfires such as the ones we have just had.” That’s also not true. Perhaps he has forgotten the 1967 bushfires that ravaged Hobart. He probably never heard of the fires at Dover, or Verona Sands, also in Tasmania. The latter was my first experience of bushfire fighting. To my surprise and disgust, the locals sat in their beach chairs watching us save their homes. They were townies at their beach shacks. A couple of dozen of bikies out on a ride stopped and helped us for several hours, beating out spot-fires in the paddocks with their jackets.

    The shack-owners didn’t even offer us a beer, though St Johns and the Salvos gave us tea and sandwiches. We drank beer with the bikies at the nearest pub. I can’t recall much of what happened that evening so I imagine we enjoyed it thoroughly :-)

  120. Reed Coray wrote:

    “If there is a class action lawsuit brought by the people who lost their homes in the Australian bush fires”

    No class actions in Oz I’m afraid. It will have to be individuals. I suspect that councils’ professional indemnity insurance companies will need to be sued and they are very good at holding out until the plaintiff’s money/willpower runs out.

  121. Reed Coray (14:14:36) :

    If there is a class action lawsuit brought by the people who lost their homes in the Australian bush fires, will James Hansen scurry to Australia to testify; and if so, who will he testify for: the law breakers who cleared their lands to protect their homes, or the law abiders who didn’t clear their land and saw their homes (and loved ones) go up in smoke?

    I guess he might be prepared to testify on his view of the effects of AGW. That means he could testify for either of the groups you distinguish.

  122. Whilst the warmists claim its because of global warming, Sydney is currently freezing;

    “The city is in the middle of at least a week where the temperature stays below 25 degrees. The likely number of days is nine, with next Wednesday being the first day warmer than 25 since last Sunday.

    This will make it the longest February stretch below 25 degrees since the 1950s.”

    http://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/where-did-sydneys-summer-go/11184

    Melbourne also has been seeing temps about 6 d celcius below average this week.

    So if it was hot last week it was global warming that caused the bushfires but if its freezing this week its weather!

  123. Pompous git parts of what you say make sense but scientifically the facts are there – a build up of fuel increases the intensity of a fire. The increased fuel load can make the difference between a hot and cold fire and the extent of devastation. There are lots of variables of course, whether someone is home or not, fire protective measures on the house, availability of water source, closeness of bush fire zone etc but the point remains that had their been hazard and fuel reduction then regardless of the heat and drought the intensity of the fire could have been greatly reduced and as such property and life losses could also have been reduced.

  124. We lived in California when they had the big fires in Laguna Beach. I got my work boots at the only Red Wing store in that part of the county. (Not too many red necks out there.) Anyway, all of the local fire men also got their safety boots theres I was able to hear the “rest of the story”.

    The previous winter was extremely wet so the brush and grasses were very abundant. The city Fire Chief had wanted to hire herds of goats to clear the undergrowth (a common method). The City Council turned him down, I suppose because they wanted the landscape “to be natural”.

    The predictable result was that much of the town up on the ridge burned.

    The entire city council was turned out of office. It appears that they went to Australia

    By the way, I understand that the Fire Chief quit his job and became partners with the Goat Company.

    Regards,

    Steamboat Jack

    PS
    I got the story third hand. If anyone has more direct knowledge, I would like to hear it.

    PPS
    Charles the Moderator:
    I got (snipped) once and have the scar to prove it. I learned my lesson!

  125. To Ed (14:39:04)

    I’m another one who took the “Nancy” post as a parody, though it wouldn’t hurt to include smileys.

    To Paula (05:28:36)

    Thanks for the info.

  126. DJ there is such a thing as regional warming and cooling as well as naturally occurring global cycles of hot and cold. That Victoria had extreme weather for a week (or an extended drought) does not prove global warming is occurring. Neither does it prove that CO2 is the culprit. To put it in context the warm weather was a result of a stationary high pressure system over the Tasman sea that redirected hot air from the north down south. If you can prove that CO2 caused this weather system then maybe you have a point. In terms of heat weve seen much worse, in terms of drought weve seen much worse. That we had both occur whilst we have policies that exacerbate the threat of fire devastation to life and property is the tragedy of this situation.

  127. [quote]At that time there was no evidence of radiant heat alone causing interiors to burn and I’m sceptical of such current claims.[/quote]

    Extensive testing of the fire spread process occurred following WWII in the civil defense program.
    The following is quoted from the August 1990 edition of the Nuclear Attack Environment Handbook, in the section that discusses fire spread post attack, it specifically addresses fire ignition by radiant heat exposure from flame exposures.

    page 77

    More precisely, the rate of heat energy received at a distance by radiation depends entirely on the fraction or proportion of the “field of view” that is occupied by flames. As an example, because wood can be ignited by heat input rate of about 0.4 calories per square centimeter per second, whenever the flame area from a neighboring fire occupies more than about 10 percent of the field of view, heat ignition of wood by heat radiation can occur

    They also noticed the obvious relationship between surface color (absorptivity) and ignition in their fire studies, with white objects being undamaged but black or dark colors objects buring. If time permits white washing exposed surfaces can drastically reduce radiant ignition as can light colored drapes that tolerate high temps like clean white cotton or fiberglass fabric rather than dark colored synthetic fabrics.

    Likewise intumescent paints that bubbles under high heat exposure to form an insulating layer reduces ignition likelihood.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intumescent

    Scattering light colored sand on a roof can also help reduce fire brand as well as radiant ignition, as well as slow burning rate after ignition to allow evacuation or fire suppression by occupants.

    Rather than trying to drive away in a car, it is better to take shelter in any structure until the main flame front passes, and then exit the structure before you get trapped by fire if it ignites and take what fire suppression action you can to keep the structure from burning.

    Fire rates double about every 3-7 minutes after ignition, so you have a small window of time that even if the house ignites in some areas, you can knock that fire down before it becomes uncontrollable if you have the means at hand.

    Wildland fire fighters have survived being overrun by fire by taking shelter under their truck (for radiant heat shelter), rather than in it (drivers area will flash over due to radiant heat gain), and then getting out from under the burning truck after the fire front passes.

    In rural areas expedient fire shelters can be built quite quickly by digging a trench (or making use of an existing depression), covering it with doors or roofing tin and a layer of dirt to protect during the fire front passage.

    Larry

  128. The city Fire Chief had wanted to hire herds of goats to clear the undergrowth (a common method)

    Do goats get minimum wage? That ain’t hay, ya know. ;)

  129. twawki (15:42:12) :
    “So if it was hot last week it was global warming that caused the bushfires but if its freezing this week its weather!”

    I think you are getting the gist of it!
    Also very cool in Adelaide this week, thankfully.

  130. twawki (15:49:19) wrote:

    “Pompous git parts of what you say make sense but scientifically the facts are there – a build up of fuel increases the intensity of a fire. The increased fuel load can make the difference between a hot and cold fire and the extent of devastation.”

    I’m not sure where in my rather long rant I referred to being against hazard reduction burns. Perhaps you misinterpreted what I wrote. Rather than failing to refer to the intensity of different fires, I expressed fire intensity in terms of megawatts per metre of firefront. Is that unscientific? What’s a “cold fire”? Never came across one myself.

  131. Thx for the info Larry (hotrod).

    We don’t have trouble with cinders on roofs; infammable roofs are illegal here. Most are corrugated steel, or tile. Unfortunately, cinders can fly into the roofspace if it’s not well-designed. This was the issue with my greenie friend’s house at Cockatoo; the eaves were yet to be protected.

    My home’s roof is steel and the walls are too. My main protection though is a deciduous windbreak 50 metres from the house. The bluegums I planted 25 years ago are 100 metres from the house.

    My own experience with being near (30 metres away) a 100MW/m firefront includes first degree burns to my face through the truck window. The paint also came off the side of the truck. We had to chainsaw trees down to make our escape and push start the truck because the electrics failed. A bit scary that time.

    What got me to unvolunteer as a fireman was not being allowed to undertake hazard reduction burns. We’d get approval, start the burn, then some [use your favourite expletive here] desk-jockey in the city would tell us to put it out because they deemed it unsafe. Us on the ground supposedly nor knowing what we were doing. So it goes…

  132. My own experience with being near (30 metres away) a 100MW/m firefront includes first degree burns to my face through the truck window. The paint also came off the side of the truck. We had to chainsaw trees down to make our escape and push start the truck because the electrics failed. A bit scary that time.

    Yes a close encounter with a wildfire front is very instructional. Many years ago, I happened to look out the window of the farm house I was renting to see my neighbor trying to control a grass fire. I grabbed a pillow case off of my pillow soaked it with water and drove down to the the fire. When I got there his father (too old for that sort of heavy work) left to call the fire department, and the two of us held the tall grass fire at bay as best we could until the pumper trucks got there. We were able to keep it from jumping the road or getting to the outdoor propane tanks that heated my place, but at the cost of some facial hair, and burns.

    That was my first up close and personal encounter with a large flame front and it taught me an indelible lesson. Even in small light fuels like knee deep grass and brush you cannot stand in the face of the fire, and it can move as fast as you can run when the wind currents are right.

    Later when doing the research on wild fire in Colorado I stumbled across first person accounts from pioneers in the tall grass prairie of Nebraska telling of prairie fires that burned across 10’s of miles wide fire fronts and ran for 50-100 miles in a single day destroying everything in their path when the area was first settled.

    Today the farmers get hassled for burning brush in the ditches in the spring and winter. Years ago you would see farms on the prairie on the plains east of Denver with a 20 ft wide plowed barren area tilled around their crops as a fire break. Just in case some moron tossed a cigarette out of a car or a dry lightning strike lit the prairie during the summer. That sort of common sense fire prevention is getting rare here too, and we will see such wild fires here again in the U.S. as well, it is simply a matter of time and circumstance.

    Larry

  133. >Whilst the warmists claim its because of global warming, Sydney is currently freezing;

    January in Sydney was significantly warmer than average (day time temperatures +2C above average) and February is running well above average (+1C).

    Currently its 20C in Sydney which is only a little below average.

    This stuff is easily checked.

  134. Cassandra King (23:27:29) wrote: “The Australian tragedy could so easily have been avoided had they listened to the native aboriginies…”

    Doubt it, M’am. They lit fires as hunting instruments, but even then only from fire they had scavenged from lightning strikes. Lightning then was the primary cause of fire ~ and the gods are still making lightning. Attributing intent to fire in Australia before the white man is dubious at best, and rates with The Noble Savage dreaming of those who lack the capacity to face their own realities of the day.

    We most certainly could stand remembering that without fuel there is no fire; but that is self-evident and does not require listening to any past, however noble or however savage. We live with what is; not what was (or what was thought to be).

  135. I’m an old Aerial Firefighter,Douglas DC6/7 airtanker Co-Pilot.Spent a lot of time fighting fires in California,Montana,Oregon and All of the Southwest and a bit in Texas and a season in Alaska.My heart goes out to all in that mess in Oz. I lived on the South
    Coast of Oregon for twenty some years, in a fire ecology that was much like northern Ca.I lived in a development that called for shakes-#1 firestarter shakes. I and others tried to get this changed,but to no avail.There were holdouts that would not change the covenants.-Even after their neighbor’s house went up with a roof fire-that was in the
    winter.No, you weren;t allowed to clear the brush,either.The city had property next to that area also,(Coos Bay,or.) No, they would not clear their brush either.Winter blowdown was spectacluar there. I moved last year to a Metal Roofed,concrete composite sided on a big square green lot in NE Oregon’s LaGrande.Oh and the city
    does allow firebreaks….

  136. Aragapiles, actually I read a different Age article:

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/fasttrack-rules-to-make-houses-safer-20090211-84td.html

    It certainly wouldn’t be hard to add that kind of cost increment through blanket regulation. The Housing Industry Association is named in the article and is a likely source of the estimate. It also mentions cost considerations have in the past inhibited implementing these regulations.

    $20,000 seems an entirely reasonable guesstimate to me and the article above adds (“or more”) to that number.

    Obviously that change would also create problems for people with “replacement value” insurance since they would have to find the extra money themselves.

  137. To Nancy (23:06:49) :
    Mr Sheahan pointed out to the court that thousands of trees still stood on his property (though most of them don’t any more).
    The court obviously sided with Gaia.
    What makes it very hard to understand is that trees have about the same intelligence as a lettuce. But I guess that’s a bit more than some of our public officials have.

  138. To Roger Carr (19:38:15)
    “They lit fires as hunting instruments…”
    One professor who did a study on river red gum forests told me he had been shown by aboriginal elders how they used fire to “ringbark” big trees as future firewood depots. He said they only allowed a couple of trees per mile to grow along the river banks, something that is also documented in the writings of early settlers, notably the squatter Edward Curr. He understood what they were doing and was one of the first to refer to it as “firestick farming”.
    They certainly did use fire to keep the forests open.
    They also kept their family campfires burning 24 hours a day (in case of no lightning strikes perhaps) which would have used a prodigious amount of forest floor debris and this too (perhaps inadvertently) reduced the fire risk.

  139. DJ (14:17:07) :

    “As Barry Brook and Australian scientist notes (http://bravenewclimate.com/)….

    This was the hottest day on record on top of the driest start to a year on record on top of the longest driest drought on record on top of the hottest drought on record the implications are clear… ”

    Barry Brook is wrong.

    From part of the detailed investigation into the 2003 Canberra fires:

    “The first record of bushfire impact in white man’s history was in 1851.
    The bushfire occurred in Port Philip on 6 February (Black Thursday), a day when the temperature in Melbourne rose to 47°C at 11 am.
    The Melbourne Town was in grave danger of destruction by the encircling bushfire. Approximately 12 lives, 1,000,000 sheep and thousands of cattle were lost”

    Note the temperature.

    Over 150 years later, another extreme weather event reached the same temperature in Melbourne, following similar drought conditions, with the same result.

    The main differences with 1851 are that considerably less area was burnt this time, and there is a vastly increased rural population.

    It’s called extreme summer weather, not climate change.

  140. To MarcH 12:53:29
    “150 years of land clearing has added to the warming and drying of eastern Australia leading to increases in temperature and decreasing humidity.”
    This is an interesting argument but if you refer to my post above (22:49:35) you will note that the great fires of 1851 were similarly fierce, yet very little land clearing had been done at that time.

  141. To David Joss (21:04:17) (Responding to my post of (19:38:15) ). Thanks, David. I can accept the general tenor of what you say even as I reject the simplistic “The Australian tragedy could so easily have been avoided had they listened to the native aboriginies…” I responded to. (Smelling the smoke from the fires in the house right now.)

  142. >Barry Brook is wrong.

    No he is not. Melbourne observations start in 1855 – http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_086071.shtml

    The 47C is a piece of fiction. Prior to 1910 the observations were in hotter glaisher stands and other primitive enclosures, but are still far below the 2009 observation. There are no paper records from 1851.

    Feb 7 saw the hottest temperature ever recorded in a modern instrument in the state of Victoria and the hottest temperature by far ever recorded in Melbourne.

    The times is up for the sceptics in Australia.

  143. Roger Carr (19:38:15) wrote:

    Doubt it, M’am. They lit fires as hunting instruments, but even then only from fire they had scavenged from lightning strikes. Lightning then was the primary cause of fire…”

    So we go from the noble savage to the stupid savage. As usual, the truth lies between the stereotypes. The Abs certainly used fire and carried it with them wherever they went, lighting fires along the way. They didn’t hunt with fire, so much as farm with it. When the settlers saw the midlands of Tasmania, they were surprised because there were no sheep even though it looked just like sheep pasture.

    The Abs fired the grass to provide lots of succulent fresh grass growth to fatten their prey: wallabies and kangaroos. It was the fire that destroyed young tree seedlings.

    See Geoffrey Blainey’s “Triumph of the Nomad” for a full account.

    [satire]

    Mr Ab: When’s dinner ready?

    Mrs Ab: We’re still waiting for a lightning strike. It’s late as usual.

    Mr Ab: Bloody witchdoctors. Can never believe their forecasts!

    [/satire]

  144. Crazy. Its been a while, but this drives me to comment.

    It is just crazy to me how different laws are in different places. Especially those regarding how you can treat your property. Here in Iowa I can’t see any reason why you’d be forbidden to do anything with land you held title to except for perhaps bury toxic waste on it. For all I know you could demolish every piece of vegetation on your land and leave it as bare dirt all the time without any law to stop you. While this is a terrible extreme, it would certainly seem that prohibition of clearing brush from around your land in a fire-prone area is the complete opposite and equally disturbing extreme. All of this in Australia is too bad since we know of policies that could have at least reduced the magnitude of the fires and prevented people from dying.

    Secondly, I’ll give another perspective on liability of those that make policies. Coming from a background with training to be a civil engineer, it would seem to me that those that allow such public policies that promote the danger of such fires should be held liable. If an engineer is complicit in designing a faulty structure or process, he or she can be held liable for deaths that result from a faulty design. How is that much different than those policies that disallow clearing of vegetation around homes? And also, couldn’t any engineers, if they were involved in planning of these communities, also be held liable for placing a development in an area prone to fire and not providing for recognized countermeasures?

  145. MarcH 12:53:29 wrote:
    “150 years of land clearing has added to the warming and drying of eastern Australia leading to increases in temperature and decreasing humidity.”

    According to CSIRO data, Australia’s average pan evaporation rate has decreased since 1962. That would seem to indicate an increase, rather than decrease in humidity. The data also indicate less drought in the second half of the 20thC when compared to the first half. Part of Western Australia and the northern Midlands of Tasmania are the only two areas that buck the trend. Not that the trend is statistically significant.

    Oh yes, land clearance started here in Tasmania in 1803, somewhat longer than 150 years.

  146. JBeatty has it exactly right – “The main differences with 1851 are that considerably less area was burnt this time, and there is a vastly increased rural population.”

    If the present population density had existed in 1851 no-one would be talking about any records on this occasion.

    In relation to the claims by Barry Brook also it seemed to me that he was attributing the disaster to global warming factors (or at least threatening more of the same as a result of global warming), and I wondered if in fact the scenario he pictured was true.

    If records were set, a degree or so probably made little difference in the circumstances – the winds, the dry bush etc was set for disaster which might well have occurred whether or not the actual temperature was a ‘record’. Furthermore, where were these ‘record’ temperatures measured? In Melbourne? Why would one think that a record in Melbourne meant that there was a record elsewhere? All of this is just loose talk and speculative posturing in the interests of the agenda.

    It also appears that some of the fires were lit by arsonists – in what sense is that attributable to global warming?

    The causes are more complex than the green crows on the fence, who are jumping on a very tragic event to further their political publicity campaign, would have us believe. Frankly, they disgust me!

  147. All of 6 meters? 20 feet? That just gives enough distance for the turk to drop big limbs on your head! The rule I learned was ‘clear as wide as the tree is tall’. For a big gum, I’d put that at 60 – 120 meters…

    So who will fly in to testify for him in his ‘civil disobedience’ ??

    I love trees, especially eucalyptus, but we’re not talking landscaping here, we’re talking survival in a very hostile environment. He owns the land, they are his trees. (Why ‘councils’ and ‘zoning boards’ ought to be told to ‘stuff it’ on residential rules.)

    We have a rule that prevents redwoods from being cut down, even if you planted them, without a special permit, that is often unavailable. The Committee will decide your fate. Strangely, this has resulted in folks being unwilling to plant redwood trees… Folks ‘rogue out’ little ones before they grow large enough to come under the rule. And it always seems that ‘problem trees’ develop strange symptoms or just up and die unexpectedly… one of the few reasons that result in a permit without a fight. Redwood planting down, Roundup sales rising. Great rule…
    /sarcoff>.

    I would love to have a redwood, but I’ll never plant one. I now preferentially plant ‘weed species’ since you can always take them out any time they need it… and here Eucalyptus are considered by the greens to be an introduced ‘weed’ to be removed. Go figure…

    So the net of their two rules is fewer redwoods and more ‘weeds’.

    Why is it so hard for some people to understand that power is not control and that liberty works better than tyranny for social order?

  148. Joseph Murphy (20:02:52) : I think the best example of wildlife/natural habitat mismanagement state side is Yellowstone. Its a shining display of pure stupidity.

    I thought it was Yosemite a few years ago when the “don’t control forest fires” rule resulted in half the park burning up… and a subsequent rule change.

  149. @PeterW (21:19:48) :

    May luck be with you.

    But fate favors the well prepared: I made up a set of sprinklers that can go on my roof in about 1 minute. White PVC heavy gauge pipe with overlapping sprinker heads (that also put water on the hose approach)

    It’s basically just a single long pipe that runs along the roof peak about 1/2 meter back. Every 3 meters or so I have a “T” to a 1/2 meter long pipe, elbow, pipe, cap; that make a kind of ‘hook’ that hangs over the peak to hold it all in place. Next to the first “T” here is second “T” with a sprinkler head on a small vertical.

    While you do need the water to drive it, it’s much easier to turn a strategic valve on and off as needed rather than be running around in the radiant heat with a hose in hand… And it leaves you free to deal with any unexpected ‘hot spots’.

    I originally developed this for an alternative to air conditioning (one family member gets migraines and AC vibrations can be an issue…) but realized it would work well in a fire. (Things folks in California deal with…)

    If you are in a low water area, connecting the gutters / downspouts to a recycle pump would be a ‘nice touch’.

    Also, ‘iceplant’ or other desert friendly succulent plants store a heck of a lot of water and tend to stop a fire cold. Nice alternative to bare dirt vs fuel…

    Final note: There is a company here that has developed a foam additive powder that sticks the water / foam to the structure. It ought to be commercially available to you. They have sprayed down homes and had them survive fires an hour later. Saw an interview with the firefighters and they said they could treat 10 times as many homes with the water in their tanker as they could defend without it AND that it did a better job too! I’d invest in a ‘magic dust’ blending foam nozzle if I lived in a place near a forest…

    Be well.

  150. Oh, and I had hung a ‘mister hose’ from hooks under the eaves. Worked OK but made the walls wetter than I wanted… would be a feature in a fire…

  151. Ozzie John (23:06:32) : In another type of such incident…
    Several years ago a man tried for seveal years to get permission to cut down a large gum tree overhanging his house. After several years of refusal by council the tree fell during a storm killing the man and destroying his house, leaving his family in complete grief.

    An amazing amount of growth can be removed from a tree without ever getting a ‘removal’ permit by the simple expedient of quarterly pruning … for the health of the tree, of course!

    5% / pruning. 20% / year. 5 Years…

    Pain in the… but considering the alternatives, not so bad.

  152. Manfred,
    Your link is very interesting. Who is the author, and what is the source of the various data etc etc?

  153. DJ (23:19:40) :

    “No mention of 1851 in that report. Perhaps you might provide a reference in future jbeatty?

    I look for to reading your source.”

    The source is the introductory comments from a report prepared for the ACT Coroner by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Center:

    http://www.bushfirecrc.com/research/downloads/ACT%20Bushfire%20CRC%20Report.pdf

    Enjoy your reading.

    “>Barry Brook is wrong.

    No he is not. Melbourne observations start in 1855 – http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_086071.shtml

    Yes, but observations of temperature, particularly following catastrophic events were occasionally recorded. The 1851 bushfires was one such occasion.

    “The 47C is a piece of fiction. There are no paper records from 1851″

    I believe The Melbourne “Argus” is the (news)paper record from which the ACT Coroners report is based. Why don’t you look it up?

    “Prior to 1910 the observations were in hotter glaisher stands and other primitive enclosures”

    Yes, the less sophisticated 1851 shaded thermometers set amongst dirt streets probably almost balance the UHI effect which bias modern Melbourne CBD tarmac level enclosures.

    “but are still far below the 2009 observation”

    They were exactly the same, after 150 years.

  154. Michael, Virginia, USA (10:20:25) : They don’t seem to be able to grasp the fact that many fires start from lightning strikes.

    I once got to see a map of California showing active fires and lightening strikes. There were dozens of fires and hundreds of ‘hot spots’ from strikes. This was absolutely normal (when asked, the ranger said it was a ‘slow time’ with fewer than typical…)

    There exists a species of pine in the western U.S. which bears a cone that withstands every force on earth except one: fire. The heat of a fire causes the cone to open. No fire, no new trees.

    It’s worse (or better) than that. Google “smoke seed germination” and you will get:

    Results 1 – 10 of about 584,000 for smoke seed germination.

    There are whole ecologies that depend on compounds in smoke to stimulate seed germination. These places (California, Australia, Spain, etc.) have had regular annual fires for tens of thousands of years. Long enough for plants to evolve specific enzyme systems sensitive to smoke. What is unnatural is to have NO fires!

    To the folks worried about ‘green bashing': I like to think that I’m ecology and preservation oriented. I was, at one time, a contributor to or member of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and The Sierra Club. I would like to see us take the present 1/3 of the land area that is largely unoccupied and expand that to 1/2 (I have reason to believe that we could easily fit all our use on the other 1/2 and that the world would be better for everyone if we did). I want a world where no single species is ever lost at the hand of man. Where my children and their children will know polar bears, tigers, etc. in the wild. But was happened here was lunacy. It deserves no quarter.

    Eucalyptus is one of the fastest growing tree groups in the world. It is superbly evolved for a heavy drought area. (No, the drought here is not due to Global Warming. The very existence of Eucalyptus tells you that drought is the norm here.) As a consequence of these two facts we have:

    Up to 50 tons / acre (about 125 tons / hectare) of growth PER YEAR of a species that has little water in it, but compounds substantially like diesel oil or gasoline. That is HOW it resists the droughts that it evolved with.

    Much of this fuel load is in the form of finely divided structures intimately mixed with air. (Leaves / twigs). It burns explosively (and that is not an over statement) and the fire travels as fast as a car on a highway. You can NOT just drive away when the fire heads your way. Many times it’s just too late.

    The notion that this ought to exist any closer than 100 meters from a home if the homeowner does not want it is simply criminal. It is committing murder by proxy. That is not an emotional statement, it is a rational assessment of the facts.

    It is that fact that overrides my love of bunnies, my desire for native old growth forests to be preserved, my wish for ‘wild places’ for everyone to visit and share.

    These folks have a fundamental right to life and pursuit of happiness, and that involves an unhindered right to self preservation and the free enjoyment of their property as they see fit. And if that means clear cutting the whole place because they have a fear of forest fires (rational or not), so be it.

    If the community at large wishes a pristine forest, let them buy the land.

    FWIW, I did a stint as a forest fire fighter one summer long ago. Only lasted a few days. Its hard work. On one occasion I was using a Pulaski fire axe to clear a break. The dozers were busy in the hardest part and my line was working an ‘easy’ part (trees under 1 foot diameter). We wanted to get it 8 feet wide if possible in about 4 hours (the weather suggested the fire would be there by then and we needed to be on the other side of a break or…)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulaski_(tool)

    We all knew 2 things. 8 feet would not stop the fire and 4 hours was not enough time. There was talk of laying explosive cord to ‘assist’ but there ‘were issues’. A wind shift saved us from ‘an interesting day'; and a couple of lovely large planes dumped red stuff all over our line (yay!! huza!!)

    Why mention this? When you have been nose to smoke with a forest fire, and nothing but an axe is likely to keep you safe, you get a new perspective on things. What matters. What doesn’t. The transitory nature of nature and life. That there is no such thing as a pristine forest, only one in transition. That a forest fire is more devastating to the furry things than anything puny people can do. That in a major fire, everything dies.

    That forest are not pretty things to be played in and preserved. They are complex death traps full of threats, that are pretty and to be protected; some times by burning down parts of them.

    (During the turn in the wind, the fire pot guys got to set a backfire line, from where we had cut, to burn out the other side. We got to do ‘spotting’ by running around putting out embers from the backfire when they jumped our line to ‘our side’. “Used canteen water” was the weapon of choice, but a shovel of dirt if you were all dried out was acceptable. ;-)

    All you need to know to judge is in the pictures. Fire. Woods. Trees too close for comfort. Dead. Living.

    It doesn’t take any more than that to know that whoever let 10’s of tons per acre or 20’s of tons per hectare per year of explosive fuel build up is at minimum criminally negligent and probably much worse. To think otherwise is not to understand the woods … or fire… or human rights.

  155. Arapiles (12:58:35) : There are no precedents for this drought or the temperatures we had last weekend. The previous extremes, set in 1939 in similar circumstances, weren’t slightly exceeded – they were smashed. An official temp of 48.8 C at Hopetoun? Avalon getting to 47.8? Do you have any concept of what those temperatures feels like or how far from normal they are?

    There is no record from a long enough period of time to know what is ‘normal’ and what is unprecedented. What were the temperatures 6000 years ago, or even during the Roman Optimum or the MWP?

    Yes, I do know what 47-48C is like. Where I grew up (near where Anthony lives in Chico) would get to 43-44 C many times each summer. HIghest I remember personally was about 48C, but I didn’t always watch the temps. Highest I’ve been in was somewhere about 52C – 53C (Phoenix, a couple of times including when the airport tarmac melted and a couple of times in Death Valley in mid summer …)

    The bottom line is simple: A massive fire needs massive fuel. Temperatures make it go a little faster, but fuel load is dominant.

  156. Very interesting indeed, Manfred (02:22:26).
    And the last line: “For these reasons it appears to be very difficult to make allowances for any UHI effects when analysing temperatures and therefore difficult to dismiss the possibility that UHI effects are creating a false impression of global warming.”

  157. That is the same problem California has. 20 years ago when they first enacted legislation to prevent people from clearing bush it was fine, but now you have 20 years of undergrowth that burns more easily than paper. In states like Arkansas where you have even more trees, and periodic drought without extreme fires because they control the underbrush.

  158. I thought it was Yosemite a few years ago when the “don’t control forest fires” rule resulted in half the park burning up… and a subsequent rule change.

    http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/wildlandfire.htm

    There was a gradual recognition of the need for fire in the wilderness, that eventually lead to the elimination of the classic smokey the bear public service announcements that ran in the 1950’s. Yellowstones fire season of 1988 was after they had adopted a natural burn policy about 1972, but there was still unnaturally high fire load in much of the park.

    You don’t need global warming to have massive firestorms only fire load and favorable conditions. The U.S. had its worst mass fire storm in 1871 which killed between 1200 and possibly 2000+ people on October 8, 1871 in Peshtigo, Wisconsin.

    The fire was so intense it boiled people alive who took refuge in a water tank, most survivors took shelter in major rivers or lakes. The fire storm winds were intense enough to toss around large objects like railroad cars according to some survivors.

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=51595

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JZS/is_5_22/ai_n24983543

    Larry

  159. Pompous Git,

    for all your tagging Bob Brown as a friend you sound like a relic green who doesn’t really recognise the demographic change that’s swept the over the movement perverting its meaning & purpose. I find it hard to say the same about Mr Brown.

  160. Quoted from Sydney Morning Herald, February 10, 2009

    ‘Scientists warned us this was going to happen’

    If seeing is believing, then it’s time to accept climate change, writes Freya Mathews.

    IT IS only a couple of years since scientists first told us we could expect a new order of fires in south-eastern Australia, fires of such ferocity they would engulf the towns in their path.

    [Death toll: 181 (so far, but still rising). Houses lost: ~750 so far, but towns still under threat. Area burnt: ~400,000 ha SO FAR. RNC]

    And here they are. The fires of Saturday were not “once in 1000 years” or even “once in 100 years” events, as our political leaders keep repeating. They were the face of climate change.

    They were the result of the new conditions that climate change has caused: higher temperatures, giving us hotter days, combined with lower rainfall, giving us a drier landscape. Let’s stop using the word “drought”, with its implication that dry weather is the exception. The desiccation of the landscape here is the new reality. It is now our climate.

    ===================================
    The Sydney Morning herald has lost the last shred of credibility it had, (which wasn’t much)
    In other news:
    Man charged with arson.
    “Words can’t describe how I feel about them,” Halyburton told The Associated Press at a relief center in nearby Alexandra. “I’m a Christian, but I don’t think to kindly of people if they go light a match and destroy people’s property and lives. They don’t have a brain in their head.”

  161. Fined $50,000 for saving their home LOOK WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE EVIL GREEN NAZIS make stupid laws and regulations its like what i read about in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA where a family ignored the CALIFONIA DEPT OF FISH & GAME and the U.S. FISH & WILDLIFES orders to not clear brush about their home becuase some endangered critter ENVIROMENTALISM IS A NEW KIND OF EVIL

  162. The early 1900’s in the Western US were very nasty too. The “Big Burn” of 1913 ran trough most of the west-I keep thinking that this could happen again-in the name of
    “protecting the environment” and not doing something about excess fuels.But the greens have the driver’s seat now.’07 at Tahoe was an example.I worked a fire on the North End of Tahoe in ’04-even then there were calls to clean things out.The trees
    were packed close from a reforestation done in-1914.The Greens were yelling like a mashed cat then,about the need for thinning.’07 was an example…

  163. I haven’t read all the comments but if Rudd wants to prosecute for murder some who started the fires deliberately, why not start prosecuting for murder all those who had a hand in setting this stupid policy.

  164. “Climate change” did not cause the fire; the climate always changes. Constantly. And the current rate and extent of change is normal and natural. The problem can be laid directly at the feet of the government, which stopped its policy of clearing brush and fire breaks.

    In October 1991 there was a similar fire in the Oakland/Berkeley hills east of San Francisco. Uncleared brush fueled the inferno. 3,354 single family homes were completely destroyed in 72 hours.

    Hot, strong winds spread the fire. Over 1,500 firefighters from Oregon, Nevada and Southern California were called in. But until the winds suddenly died down they were unable to contain the fire at all.

    I still remember all the helicopters and aircraft fighting the fire. One helicopter hovered over my swimming pool and emptied about half of it in one gulp with a giant bucket suspended underneath. It took about ten seconds – and it took an hour and a half to refill the pool.

  165. Brian BAKER (09:57:37) :

    “I haven’t read all the comments but if Rudd wants to prosecute for murder some who started the fires deliberately, why not start prosecuting for murder all those who had a hand in setting this stupid policy”.

    I am pretty confident that is exactly what’s going to happen.

    1. The law has to be changed.
    2. The people that have been fined in the passed must have their money back.
    3. The people who have lost everything must be compensated.

    Government is liable.
    Why?
    Because there are many reports pointing out the dangers of the “Green” policies.
    The Government therefore was warned.
    Despite the warning the Government did not change their act.
    It will not bring back the dead but it will prevent future casualties.
    Therefore the Government has to be brought to court.

  166. Found on: http://heliogenic.blogspot.com/2009/02/national-secretary-of-australia.html

    February 13, 2009
    National Secretary of Australia firefighters union is a true believer
    During the last decade the planet has been cooling but fuel has been building up in the Australian bush because of “green” policies preventing fuel clearance, leading to tinderbox conditions and the recent disastrous wildfires. See here, here, here, and here. In spite of these facts, the National Secretary of the United Firefighters Union of Australia blames the wildfires on “global warming”, relying on the alarmist CSIRO “Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report” (DECR):

    “Research by the CSIRO, Climate Institute and the Bushfire Council found that a “low global warming scenario” will see catastrophic fire events happen in parts of regional Victoria every five to seven years by 2020, and every three to four years by 2050, with up to 50 per cent more extreme danger fire days. However, under a “high global warming scenario”, catastrophic events are predicted to occur every year in Mildura, and firefighters have been warned to expect up to a 230 per cent increase in extreme danger fire days in Bendigo. And in Canberra, the site of devastating fires in 2003, we are being asked to prepare for a massive increase of up to 221 per cent in extreme fire days by 2050, with catastrophic events predicted as often as every eight years.” “Face global warming or lives will be at risk”

    Apparently the National Secretary hasn’t read David Stockwell’s posts taking apart CSIRO’s DECR.

    Posted by jblethen at 2/13/2009
    Labels: climate models, Hansen – NASA GISS – NOAA – HadCRU – CSIRO

  167. mick (06:42:58) wrote:

    “for all your tagging Bob Brown as a friend you sound like a relic green who doesn’t really recognise the demographic change that’s swept the over the movement perverting its meaning & purpose. I find it hard to say the same about Mr Brown.”

    Actually Mick, I do recognise the change in the Green movement. For example, way back in the beginning, we were in favour of plantation forestry. I still am and the Greens are against. OTOH I am in agreement over the concept of restoring Lake Pedder. Despite my political differences with Bob, it would be curmudgeonly of either of us to allow that to poison our mutual respect for each other.

    Just as Patrick Moore was excoriated by Greenpeace for his involvement with forestry, I am excoriated by most Greens in the organic movement for hobnobbing with farmers and agricultural researchers — they are The Enemy. I was happy to help them reduce pesticide use by 95%, but that wasn’t good enough for most Greens. So it goes…

  168. It occurs to me that perhaps we might make more headway with hazard reduction burns if we referred to them as “excercising the Precautionary Principle”.

    I watch very little TV (I much prefer Climate Audit & this place), but last night heard a Green saying that we shouldn’t be allowed to live in the bush and put our lives in danger! Fantasists!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Tasmanian_fires

    Fifty two of the 62 lives that were lost were in the city of Hobart.

  169. “I was happy to help them reduce pesticide use by 95%, but that wasn’t good enough for most Greens. So it goes…”

    How much did the yield suffer?

  170. Pompous Git,

    ok, that must be why it confuses me – you’re calling yourself green in the same sense as a turn of the century gent catapulted into the present still straight-facedly describing himself as gay when he means he’s happy. What you’re basically advocating are sensible land practices that the green movement never really had a monopoly on in the first place.

  171. DJ said

    Currently its 20C in Sydney which is only a little below average.

    This stuff is easily checked.

    Weatherzone said;

    Where did Sydney’s summer go?
    Brett Dutschke, Thursday February 12, 2009 – 20:34 EDT

    About one week after western suburbs endured its hottest four-day heatwave in 37 years; Sydney is likely to be heading for it coolest February period in more than 50 years.

    The city is in the middle of at least a week where the temperature stays below 25 degrees. The likely number of days is nine, with next Wednesday being the first day warmer than 25 since last Sunday.

    This will make it the longest February stretch below 25 degrees since the 1950s.

    Sydney also had nine days in-a-row below 25 in February 1953 and eight in 1996. The last time there was a longer stretch was in 1950 when there were 13.

    The extraordinary turnaround from last week’s heat is a due to plenty of cloud and showers being blown in by persistent onshore southeasterly winds.

    When will the summer warmth return? The middle of next week as winds turn warmer northeasterly, but it will only be brief, just a few days.

    The city is likely to reach the high 20s, possibly the low 30s, but a cooler change late next week will put an end to that warmth. Western suburbs will hit the low-to-mid 30s before the change.

    Frequent cooler changes for the rest of the month will the chances small of a prolonged heatwave.

    – Weatherzone

    © Weatherzone 2009

  172. A ‘cold’ fire is one hat does not give out excessive heat, such as one used in winter for backburning. A hot fire is one which verges on a fire storm and destroys everything in its path. When cold fires are used in winter for fuel reduction they reduce the frequency and intensity of hot fires in summer.

  173. “Pandering to the Greens” is right. You must remember that it’s not actually the Greens who are in power. The mainstream parties implement half-assed approximations to Greens policies to stop a drift to the green side of politics, then blame the Greens for resulting disasters.

    The actual Greens policies on fire (e.g. http://www.nsw.greens.org.au/policies/bush-fire-risk-management) include scientifically designed back-burning. The kind of indiscriminate burning the logging industry advocates selects for fire-adapted vegetation. Fire-adapted vegetation burns hot and fast as its competitive strategy for wiping out the competition, then comes back fast. Burn too big an area too often, and you end up with a more flammable system.

    This is bad enough with indigenous undergrowth but when you add into the mix highly fire-adapted African grasses that have no local wild predators, introduced to improve pasture, and you are pretty far off from pre-settler conditions.

  174. Especially in the case of Euc’s, thinning and removal make a major difference. Here they are obviously non native, so I say, they are weeds. Obviously in their native land, a different story. But given their dangerous levels of explosive aromatics, aggressive management of them is clearly needed.

  175. mick (12:47:38) wrote:

    “Pompous Git,

    ok, that must be why it confuses me – you’re calling yourself green in the same sense as a turn of the century gent catapulted into the present still straight-facedly describing himself as gay when he means he’s happy. What you’re basically advocating are sensible land practices that the green movement never really had a monopoly on in the first place.”

    No, the green movement never had a monopoly on anything. Yes, I am a firm advocate of sensible land practices.

    Wouldn’t a turn-of-the-century gent be 9 years old this year? :-))))

    Yeah, I’m a facetious old fart ;-)

  176. Sandy (12:26:44) wrote:

    “I was happy to help them reduce pesticide use by 95%, but that wasn’t good enough for most Greens. So it goes…”

    How much did the yield suffer?”

    During the same period, pack-out rates were improved by other changes in practice. Basically, farmers are in business and cannot afford to reduce profitability. The 95% reduction in ten years was a goal set by growers. It was achieved in considerably less time than that.

  177. David Joss (21:25:12) :

    Re your comments on the 1851 fires. There are many reasons that these fires are probably the most extensive in Victoria’s history. Not the least of which is the fact the forests were much more extensive and well connected, and the likelihood that aboriginal fire stick farming hadn’t been practiced for some time leading to an increase in fuel load. The idea is that land clearing is contributing to extreme weather conditions its not the sole cause.

    The issue is much more complicated than presented by Flannery and Co who would like to blame the extreme weather SOLELY on CO2 emissions.

  178. SteveSadlov: Another factor: in Australia, leaf litter is broken down by insects (small moths and beetles) that you probably don’t get in California, so eucalypt leaves become a major fire hazard, if the local bugs don’t like them (very likely). Here, frequent burning as advocated by the logging lobby wipes out the insects so the leaf litter also accumulates, and becomes a fire hazard.

    Pre-emptive burning is a good strategy if done right. Done badly, it increases the risk.

  179. There has been a lot of valuable comment here and unfortunately some rubbish spouted too.

    Politicians today seem to have as their main reason for being, to be reelected for the next term. That is why they have succumbed to policies put forward by the vocal ‘greens’. Whether it be at State level or at Local Government level, policies have been put in place to panda to that ‘green’ vote in spite of so many people being against those policies.

    I live on an unsealed road, only about a mile from a main road. Up until a few years ago, I would collect dead-fall wood from our roadside to take it home for firewood. The adjoining property owners endorsed what I was doing, but they didn’t need firewood. Since the local council has banned the removal of wood from roadsides, roads in forested areas are now narrow corridors passing through immense quantities of fuel. Our road runs roughly North South and there is a stand of native timber at the North end. If a fire got started anywhere near there, the roadside would become an immediate conduit for the flames, bringing them dangerously close to a couple of houses. Bear in mind that it is a North wind that is the most dangerous for fires here.

    Under those circumstances, there is no way that I could use the road as an escape from a fire. Because I have lived in the Aussie bush for most of my life, I have several contingencies available should a fire come our way. The land immediately around the house is all cleared. The trees nearby are all deciduous, we have several ‘safe areas’ available to us.

    If a gum tree decides to grow near our house, according to the authorities, because that is a native species, I have to let it grow. If I did that, then in a few years the house would be hidden in a gum tree forest. Needless to say, any such seedlings are quietly removed before they can be seen. If I wanted to remove a native tree from my property, I have to get council permission and if that permission is granted, then I have to plant something like 50 eucalyptus seedlings as compensation. Where is the logic in that? I know of some thinking people who have been through that process. In one case the householder (on 1 acre of land) arranged for the seedlings were planted on another property, miles away that he owned. In another case, the seedlings were planted, and after the inspector had departed, they suffered an accidental dose of Glyphosate.

    We need some sense in the rules around planning. We need some sense in rules about siting houses. We need some sense in roadside vegetation. Deadwood harvesting from a roadside, reduces the fuel load and costs the local authorities nothing.

    Finally, I would like to point out that our Shire Council arranged for our roadside to be slashed last year. For a while it helped because grass and small shrubs near to the road itself were removed. The slasher was inhibited where it could work because of large limbs and tree trunks lying close to the road, but at least an attempt to clean up was made. When did they do that work? In Autumn (Fall) after all threat of fire for the year had passed!

  180. I live in the Blue Mountains near Sydney in Australia which also suffers from bush fires on a regular basis. Until recently the local Green party had control of the local council and had in place laws prohibiting back burning, clearing of bush for fire breaks and the removal of trees and brush from properties. This insane policy lead to a massive build up of the fuel load in the national parks and public lands in the area and resulted a few years ago in massive bush fires that destroyed quite a few homes and lead to the death of several people and caused significant irreparable damage to the local world Heritage listed national parks.

    The Irony is that environmentalists in the Blue mountains actually thought they were saving and preserving the natural flora and fauna of the region by prohibiting the use of effective time tested methods of forestry management to reduce the fuel load of bush land areas, when in fact all they managed to do was irreparably damage the local ecosystem and cost people their lives and property when the inevitable happened as a result of their dumb ideologically driven policies.

  181. DJ wrote – “This was the hottest day on record on top of the driest start to a year on record on top of the longest driest drought on record on top of the hottest drought on record the implications are clear…”

    I find the driest start to a year comment amusing as it completely fails to mention the large amount of rain south east Australia recieved in early December.
    Where I live in south east S.A. we recieved 130mm in one 24 hour period – which is about the average rainfall we recieve for the combined months of December, January and February.

  182. Matt, I’m curious as to how the Greens had control of the Blue Mountains town council “until recently” when in the 2008 election, they achieved 23.6% on a 5.7% swing. You are telling us that they controlled the council on a vote of less than 18%. And they achieved this swing in the last election despite “insane” policies that are now no longer in place. Remarkable.

    Also as far as I can tell from trawling past news reports, the previous council of Blue Mountains had 3 independents, 1 Green, 4 ALP and 3 Liberal councillors. That makes it the more remarkable that the Greens could have been setting policy. Or did you mean the 2008 council at some point was dominated by 3 Greens out of 12 councillors?

    Here is the current policy: http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sustainableliving/bushfireandemergencies and here it is the year before the 2008 election: http://web.archive.org/web/20071107125156/www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/councilservices/bushfireandemergencies/ — I’m sorry if I am missing something but I don’t see any significant difference. Both contain wording like “It should be noted that approvals relating to open burning are not intended to apply to bush fire hazard reduction works, and do not limit a resident’s ability to undertake hazard reduction activities.”

    Matt, would you be so kind as to post links to something backing up your claims, because I’ve found nothing. Thanks.

  183. MarcH (15:39:49) :

    “The issue is much more complicated than presented by Flannery and Co who would like to blame the extreme weather SOLELY on CO2 emissions”

    Ah! yes, even Flannery says:

    “In 1790 the First Fleeters experienced the kind of summer that strikes fear into the heart of twentieth-century Australians. Temperatures rose into the forties and the wind blew from the north-west as if out of an oven. The heat was so extreme that birds fell dead into the streets and the europeans succumbed to heat prostration. At one stage a great mob of flying foxes passed by, dropping from the air as they died.
    Extract via, PP.15, The Birth of Sydney, Tim Flannery 1999, Text Publishing”

    Lets sum up:

    Extreme eastern Australian summer weather events reached well into the forties in 1790, 1851 and 2009.

    Where’s the global warming?

  184. Living in Australia, I see almost all the comments here as extremely ill-informed.

    The Greens have no power in any State, nor Federally. They cannot dictate land-clearing nor determine whether or not to do prescribed burns.

    These conspiracy theories are stupid, and are quite offensive. The fires were a terrible tragedy, that were create from a large number of unfortunate conditions.

    And comments like this are just stupid

    ““The issue is much more complicated than presented by Flannery and Co who would like to blame the extreme weather SOLELY on CO2 emissions””

    And JBeaty
    “Extreme eastern Australian summer weather events reached well into the forties in 1790, 1851 and 2009.”
    We get forty degree days almost every year. The difference this year was the length of time. Look at Adelaide, they had 7 days in a row over 40.
    To pretend that is not unusual is plain stupid.

  185. Nathan (22:08:31) :

    “Living in Australia, I see almost all the comments here as extremely ill-informed”

    Sorry we disappoint you. I live in Australia as well, and I find many comments here informative.

    “We get forty degree days almost every year. The difference this year was the length of time. Look at Adelaide, they had 7 days in a row over 40.
    To pretend that is not unusual is plain stupid”

    Have you considered the possibility of UHI skewing recent Adelaide readings?

    My posts are directed towards historic contemporary accounts of previous extreme weather events.

    Melbourne recording 47 degrees celsius is an unusal event under any circumstances, but it has happened before. We do not know for how long previous extreme events lasted because no extended records were kept. Judging by historic accounts, however, temperature extremes were clearly considerably more than single day events.

    I haven’t checked Adelaides historic records yet, but I suspect they will demonstrate that what Adelaide (and south east Australia) experienced recently could well have been matched over timescales longer than the BOM records cover. In particular, 1851.

    Why anyone would choose to live (if you can call it living) in Adelaide is beyond me. sarc/off

  186. I encourage all to look at the home video referred to in Roger Sowell (15:16:04) :

    How does anyone combat something like this. It is impossible to stop a wildfire with gale force winds and temperature in the 40’s with a very high fuel load comprised of eucalyptus debris. The speed of this fire is staggering, just a couple of minutes from horizon to spot fires on the cleared firebreak,

    It is obvious that if there is no fuel we have no fire. So anything we can do to reduce the fuel load must be done and this means regular, systematic hazard reduction based on accurate measurement of fuel loadings.

    The news is not good, there appears to be hundreds of people missing, over 2000 homes lost.

  187. jbeatty wants to know where the global warming is. It’s “global”, not at one location. Sure, you can expect that trend on the odd occasion to cause unusually warm temperatures at one place, and for that to happen more often than in the past, but the planet as a whole is not warming uniformly. No one says it is. Look at the maps at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/ and play around with different years. You will see some years it has warmed in some locations, in others cooled at the same locations. We have things like ocean heat transport that distribute the temperature around the planet, and phenomena like La Niña and El Niño that move energy in and out of the sea. Use a straw target and you will hit straw.

    Was the Victoria fire a global warming-related event? Possibly. A better answer is that one event is not a climate change event. Rather, a long-term average that is changing is what you need to look for. Good luck with finding one if you are determined to ignore the evidence.

  188. Peter Hearnden (00:50:17) :
    I must say if some of the language being used here was used by a ‘greenie’ I suspect a rapid ban would be in order. ‘mass murderer’, sheessh, just think what you are saying some of you! I don’t think anyone is mass murderer for having a view about the management of the environment – be you ‘greenie’ orHummer driver!
    I really would like to hear the other side, the, yes, ‘greenie’ view. But, I must say it’s hard to feel able to post offering even the criticism of posts so far I have for fear of a torrent of abuse. So, I suspect, as per usual, all we will get is more of one side hurling insults at ‘greenshirt’ and ‘idiots’ and little enlightening debate about how to live in a tinder dry, extremely flammable environment.

    Peter, I quote your comment in full here. You have a voice, you are an individual, and your view is expressed. And sometimes, 99 people out of 100 will not agree with the one lone voice. As for myself, when trying to decide which view is more useful, I don’t bother with counting numbers of people who agree. If 99 people say No and 1 says Yes, that doesn’t matter to me. If it did, I’d never be skeptical of AGW. AGW has a consensus, and AGW supporters have said that it is “irresponsible” to express skeptical views. In other worlds, that the 1 in 100 who disagrees with AGW should stay quiet and not express that view. Well, that argument has never impressed me much because I find that it is not a useful approach. I suppose it is “useful” to the majority, but it is not “useful” to the minority–and it really isn’t useful for better understanding. So you feel you would like to hear the ‘greenie’ view. If so, please express it. I for one am listening. I for one don’t care HOW MANY people express it. If the argument makes useful sense, I hope that I will listen and try to take it on board and come to understand it as you do. It is the internet; everyone can ‘publish’, even individuals. The barrier to entry is very easy. One computer, one internet connection. The rest is free, as in, provided by the owners of these sites. So please express the greenie view. Please add what we are missing. Please illuminate the discussion.
    On your last point, you say that on this thread there is, “little enlightening debate about how to live in a tinder dry, extremely flammable environment”, I gather people are saying that the traditionally well established well tried out and well experimented method is to burn off regularly, to keep the forest healthy and more abundant. Is there something you wish to add to this? Or perhaps criticise?

  189. D.nut:
    The time now is one of response to the needs of these people, these communities. There will be a time and I am sure it will be soon but for now statements of the Greens are at fault, Bureaucracy have much to answer for, local council have brought this upon… whatever. To me, these arguments lack information, they lack compassion and the lack integrity. It is just not the time yet for this type of public debate.

    In that case would you equally condemn as lacking compassion and integrity, those who are claiming that this disaster is related to global warming?

  190. Smiley (06:31:03) :
    Actually I have something to confess. I currently work for a state government Wildlife Service/EPA in Australia and the consensus around the office is amazement at the lack of fire breaks, especially around the small rural townships that were devastated. And to a certain degree I do agree that some greens can go over the top.

    So do you happen to know the real reasons why those areas didn’t have fire breaks?

  191. I am confused. If the fire situation is due to global warming, which is certainly, but not only, the mantra of Environmentalist, then in an area where historically drought, Eucalyptus trees and potentially high temperatures are endemic, not managing the fuel content of the land would be suicidal… you would think. Yes? So why then do these Global Warming Environmentalist make it illegal to clear the land? To protect the residents!!!!!

  192. Pamela Gray (20:39:01) :

    “We have the same problem here but for opposite reasons. We have rich hippies moving up Lostine Canyon, building fancy log homes amongst tall fir, pine, and tamarack, who REFUSE to cut a firebreak of ANY width.”

    Yes, in the summer I live 10 miles farther up the Lostine in the only private property between the “rich hippies” and the end of the road two miles further up.

    Just up-canyon from where the “rich hippies” live, no fire break is even possible except on private property because the Canyon has been declared “Wild and Senic”, basically to “save the Salmon” who probably can’t be saved anyway unless the whole drainage reverts to pre-dam conditions for the next 350 miles down to the Pacific, and “managed” so that no standing dead trees can be cut on this kind of National Forest. In dry times, I think I could torch up the whole canyon with one match at the bottom. My []non-electrified] primitive cabin is cleared to about 20-60 yds, depending. But I don’t think even a 100yd. radius would save it.

    We probably wouldn’t be allowed to clear the whole property because of the Holy Salmon, etc., and any fire would simply go around it anyway – I’ve thought of constucting such a break on the property so that a large part of the adjacent Wilderness wouldn’t go up in flames along with a Canyon fire, but maybe it’d be better if it did, just not for the Salmon and the other “values” the saviors assert. Yes, the saviors do indeed call things like plants and animals “values”.

    Currently the saviors want to close the old logging roads in the County permanently so as to establish “corridors for large predators”, including the Holy Grizzley Bears who aren’t there yet – apparently there aren’t enough of them in Yellowstone and Glacier Nat. Parks to save the World – and return these areas to “pre white” conditions – I’m not kidding. And, of course also to “save the Salmon”, as they must according the tenets of their “Religion of the Holy Salmon”.

    As usual, they don’t mention fire breaks.

    One thing the “rich hippies” lower down in the Canyon don’t realize is that some of them also live in a flood zone due to the occasional large flash flood/slide which starts higher up on the side of the Canyon under the right moisture conditions and can put a foot of sand and gravel long with a temporary stream right where they are living. Surprise, surprise!

  193. More Green thinking on living with Wildfires, a paper titled Safe at Home from NRDC:

    http://nrdc.org/land/forests/safe/safe.pdf

    This quote is illuminating: “A home cannot burn down unless it is ignited.”

    And this, regarding clearing high-fuel material from the forest: (emphasis mine)

    Cutting down trees away from communities—in what is called the “backcountry”—is not a proven method to reduce fire risk to homes and neighborhoods. Forest Service expert Jack Cohen states categorically that backcountry logging “does not effectively change home ignitability.” In 2005, fire scientists found that “fuels treatments have been suggested as a means to limit the size and intensity of wildfires but few experiments are available to analyze the effectiveness of different treatments.” An Interior Department publication noted in 2002 that “scant information exists, however, on the efficacy of fuel treatments for mitigating wildfire severity.” As recently as 2006, a scientific report concluded that “[r]emoving dead trees and other fuels can effectively reduce the risk of fire damage at a local scale, e.g., in the immediate vicinity of a home or community. However, the effectiveness of harvest in reducing fire risk over larger areas, e.g., a forest landscape, is less clear.” A comprehensive survey of the relevant scientific literature also found that backcountry logging was unsubstantiated as a fire reduction technique, stating that “the proposal that commercial logging can reduce the incidence of canopy fire appears completely untested in the scientific literature.”

    I do not agree with everything in this paper, just reporting it as some above requested the Green viewpoint.

    Roger E. Sowell
    Marina del Rey, California

  194. Still awaiting a response from Matt (19:02:45) : “I live in the Blue Mountains”. Sorry, mate. I’ve checked out your story further, and you are a liar. The Greens are not and have never been in control of the Blue Mountains council. As far as I can determine, they are not in control of any level of government on the mainland.

    This is the troubling thing about what’s happening in Australia today. Anti-environmental groups have not wasted a second attempting to pin blame on the Greens for the fires, with no shred of evidence to back their case.

    It is bad enough that they are doing that before there’s been time to establish the cause (which is most likely a variety of factors: arson, high temperatures, high winds, prolonged drought — plus others that I won’t list here because they should be subject to investigation). It’s worse that a number of these people are prepared to use deliberate lies.

    Fighting your personal cause by using emotive arguments spiced with untruths at the expense of victims of a major disaster is repulsive in the extreme.

    If you want to know the Greens position on a subject, look for an original source. There is no way of preventing deliberate lies from being posted on a site like this, moderation or not. Even reading a newspaper is not that safe: many do not have a culture of fact checking.

  195. Philip Machanick (03:37:35) :

    “Look at the maps at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/ and play around with different years. You will see some years it has warmed in some locations, in others cooled at the same locations”

    You can do even better than that with GISS data.

    Sometimes even previous years warm or cool as “adjustments” are made.

    Alarmists in Australia are blaming last week on global warming/climate change

    I have provided evidence that similar extreme temperature events to last weeks disaster have repeated over a 200 year timescale in Australia, and the best you can offer me is Jim Hansons thermometer?

  196. Hi Matt
    As one of the Greens Councillors on Blue Mountains City Council, I have to dispute a couple of things in your post. But firstly, I believe that this is not the time to be casting around for people to blame for such awful events, as the fires in Victoria. There will be a Royal Commission and I look forward to learning any and all lessons about managing such extreme fires that come from the inquiries.
    You said that: “Until recently the local Green party had control of the local council and had in place laws prohibiting back burning, clearing of bush for fire breaks and the removal of trees and brush from properties.”
    That is not a correct statement. Before the last Council elections, the Greens had 2 Councillors out of 12, and were rarely supported by the other Councillors. After the elections, there are now 3 Greens Councillors, and more independents. Neither of these scenarios point to the Greens having control.
    The majority of the Blue Mountains is under the management of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, not the Council. However, the Council is responsible for developments occurring in the area and there are restrictions about building in bushfire prone areas. These are taken very seriously by both Councillors and staff.
    The Council will be discussing the fires at our meeting on Tuesday night, so I encourage you to attend. I met with one of our local Rural Fire Services last week and discussions are ongoing about what we can do in the future.
    There’s a link on our NSW website to more detailed information about what the Greens’ policies are.

    http://nsw.greens.org.au/the-victorian-bushfires

    El Gibbs

  197. The Rural Fire Service Association has leading global warming advocate Tim Flannery addressing its June conference. http://www.wildfiremanagement09.com/program.asp#keynote
    So-o, does the Fire Service itself wish to blame global warming, and legitamise its ecoGreen policies? No doubt they will invite a skeptic as well, just for balance. Not.

    REPLY:
    if there in any place for public venting, that should be it. Perhaps a protest should be formed. Flannery has done quite a bit of damage and should be called on it. – Anthony

  198. tamino tried to explain the fires downunder with the help of the melbourne temperature trend.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/fire-down-below/#comment-28605

    the melbourne weather station is well known here (how not to measure temperature part 33) for it’s extremely poor siting.

    i was positively surprised that i was allowed to post a link to mcleans uhi evaluation of the melbourne site.

    however, my followup below was not allowed. “open mind” appears only to allow critical remarks, if they think to have some clever response.

    obviously, there was no clever response for this:

    ———————————————
    I think we are talking about different things right now:

    McLean was referencing the data from 1950-1990.
    He showed an uhi related increase of the melbourne data of approx. 0.7° only during this time (on top of the uhi increase of the reference stations).

    http://mclean.ch/climate/Melbourne_UHI.htm

    The Melbourne station is located in the mddle of one of the busiest streets in australia:
    Enter this in google maps : La Trobe St 2, Melbourne

    So the melbourne data may have not been the best idea to start this blog discussion in the first posting.

    @Philippe Chantreau // February 14, 2009 at 12:22 am

    you are refering to climate data after 1990.and the local upward trend after approx. 1993. this local trend has to be put into perspective with with the all-australian trend. Simply spoken, as the all-australian trend was upwards for decades, melbourne had to follow at some point in time.

    However, local trends (like melbourne and all-australia) have to be investigated first for uhi, local land use, ocean currents and other issues. Following mclean, the all-australian upward trend in the last decades was due to the change in ocean currents after 1976.

    http://mclean.ch/climate/Aust_temps_alt_view.pdf

  199. leftymartin (19:55:10) : wrote:

    “Good for Mr. Sheahan. He has undoubtedly had enough of the court system, but wouldn’t if be wonderful if he speerheaded a class action lawsuit against the governments who enacted these idiotic regulations, and against the various greenie organizations who pressure for such laws.”

    if a government is found guilty, it the taxpayer who has to pay the bill in the end. that is not very satisfactory and not helpful to do it better in the future.

    I would prefer to look for personal responsibility, such as of “greenies” in the green party or in labour party or elsewhere, who didn’t allow or sabotaged fire prevention despite experts told them to do so.

  200. El Gibbs,

    firstly, don’t you think it might be more prudent for council to wait until after the Royal Commission to discuss the fires rather than Tuesday? Someone might slip & blame something.

    You maintain there is no green influence on policy making because there have been only 2-3 greens councilors over the last couple of terms. This is not a correct assertion.

    Do small blocks come to have influence & receive policy concessions & hand outs far beyond their importance or usefulness in Australian politics? Must we examine the mechanism through which Rudd’s package was just passed? Or similar deals in our home state, NSW, let alone the administrative mechanisms through which local council organisations mold policy?

    I am sure you will find that it is not only council that takes council building & development restrictions seriously. Rate-payers feel very seriously about them too. If only you knew. Now, you are hearing just some of it, on one subject, yet the response is obfuscation.

    Lastly, you link to your political party & within that link there it is, blaming climate change for the conditions. Politicising the fires, so to speak. So, no thank you – in state I always vote NSW Shooter’s Party.

  201. “a class action lawsuit”

    I’d go for manslaughter. It must be a criminal act (whether or not it’s on the statute book) to enforce legislation that actively endangers life and property. I’m surprised the insurance companies don’t have a say in the matter.

    Planting apocalyptus trees doesn’t sound too bright, either… :-)

  202. You can use these tags : I am sure you will find that it is not only council that takes council building & development restrictions seriously. Rate-payers feel very seriously about them too. If only you knew. Now, you are hearing just some of it, on one subject, yet the response is obfuscation.

    Lastly, you link to your political party & within that link there it is, blaming climate change for the conditions. Politicising the fires, so to speak. So, no thank you – in state I always vote NSW Shooter’s Party.

    REPLY
    : The way you set them up didn’t work, had to remove them – moderator

  203. Dane in Victoria wrote

    “Politicians today seem to have as their main reason for being, to be reelected for the next term. That is why they have succumbed to policies put forward by the vocal ‘greens’. Whether it be at State level or at Local Government level, policies have been put in place to panda to that ‘green’ vote in spite of so many people being against those policies.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. The problem is both major parties chase the green vote and for that reason politics gets in the way of protection of people and property.

  204. Also of note – planning regulations regarding building in bushfire areas means houses constructed in bushfire zones have become much more expensive. However whilst those who choose to live there have to pay this cost at the demand of the local authorities, those same local authorities have not exercised their duty of care in ensuring that they minimise the fire risk to property and life.

  205. I congratulate this man who was fined for using his COMMON SENSE!

    Some of the people in these fire affected communities had requested authorisation to clear trees and vegetation in the areas of concern within THEIR PROPERTIES, and it appears to me that the system has let them down. Well, the authorities can now live with their importance of the losses. Have they ever stopped to think of how many trees will be cut down to provide the timber to rebuild the approximate 1800 destroyed homes? Don’t these communities actually employ the people in authority? I know and agree that we need to plant new trees and protect the existing ones also etc., but I believe in the safety of the Australian people and wildlife first. The true heroes in this situation are the Australian Fire Fighters and Volunteers. My thanks to you people for your huge efforts! I recommend that the position to authorise the clearing of trees and vegetation be given to the Australian Local Fire Departments and not to political organisations and local councils. After all, the Fire Fighters have the knowledge and experience, and common sense in relation to bushfires and saving lives, which is what the other authorities don’t appear to demonstrate. Additional employment by Australian Local Fire Departments would be needed for this task, and funds should be provided for this as well. It’s nice to see the Australian people helping the victims of this tragedy. What Great Spirit the Aussie’s have! I was brought to tears when reading some of the articles that were published about the victims. My heart goes out to all of those people who have suffered and lost. I wish for them the courage and help to get through this difficult time. You all take care. Rob Rosenlund

  206. To my mind, one of the most heroic acts performed during this disaster took place at the little town of Buxton.

    The quick thinking local publican “borrowed” an abandoned Department of Sustainability and Environment bulldozer and quickly pushed a firebreak around the town, which probably saved it.

    The DSE is considering laying charges.

    Observations:

    The bulldozer just did the only really useful work it has ever done, or ever will.

    The DSE has for some time been unofficially named the Department of Scorched Earth for its alleged ineptitude with fire preventative management.

    The publican (Eric Notley) deserves an Order of Australia medal.

  207. It has been estimated that the amount of CO2 released during these fires has almost equaled the entire national yearly emissions.
    Is this CO2 counted in the Kyoto Agreement?

  208. East Gippsland Wildfire Taskforce
    Inquiry into impact on public land management practices on bushfires in Victoria

    Report May 2007

    “Because of the mentality in DSE & Parks in regard to fire suppression over the last 40-50 years our bush is in perilous condition. It suffered a major fire in 1983 and unless immediate and practical approaches are taken to fuel reduction burning, 25 years of timber and fauna regrowth will be lost. This time round it will be complete devastation.”

    http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/enrc/inquiries/bushfires/Submissions/063%20East%20Gippsland%20Wildfire%20Taskforce%20Inc.pdf

  209. SUBMISSION TO COAG – INQUIRY INTO VICTORIAN BUSHFIRES

    “A SUMMARY OF SUMMERS”…… 1939 and 1983, to 2002-2003
    AND BEYOND”

    “In view of the state of fuel loadings over all crown lands, I suggest the COAG should consider sacking Alpine National Parks and replacing them with Government control. DSE should receive censure for allowing the Alpine Parks to become the Nations most fire-prone mountain area in Australia.”

    http://www.coagbushfireenquiry.gov.au/subs_word/37_ward_submission.doc

  210. The guy was wrong to call public officials d*ckheads.

    He should have called the a*holes

    Many Greens would not care that he lost 2 members of his family. They would have responded “only two?” They wouldn’t have minded if his whole family was wiped out. An estimated 200 dead? they would have been happy with 2 million dead. As one Green scientist has said “Humans are the AIDS of the Earth.”

    Greens are the new Nazis. They want to exterminate anyone they consider inferior, which is most of humanity, except for them. They didn’t start the fire, but they believe that who or what ever did was doing Gaia’s work. This fire was part of their Final Solution.

  211. Hi,

    If possible, could you please remove my recent comment from this site?

    Rob Rosenlund (09:10:05) :

    Thank you.

    Rob Rosenlund

  212. Unbelievable, I can’t believe the want to slash and burn what little is left in Australia or on the planet. In my opinion the bloke should have been fined twice as much because he cleared way too much to defend his property and was illegal. It is a clear choice. If you want to live in the bush then abide by the law and protect your property legally and the way everyone else is doing it with tanks, pumps, and sticking to the rules. And you can defend your property against it, I have and I will stand up to any one who says otherwise. If you want to live in a paddock or cleared area, then don’t buy a bush block and expect to be able to clear it because you want to build your house on the top of a hill (the worst spot from a fire behaviour perspective) to get nice views. How about some common sense both ways. VIctoria is over 70% cleared…a pretty bloody big fire break in my books with plenty of “cleared space”. I know what I am talking about too as I have lived through a megafire and successfully defended my own property and I live in amongst stringbark forest, arguably the most fire prone vegetation type on the planet. C’mon people.

  213. Why do jerks buy bush blocks and then want to clear it? It’s not as if we don’t have enough cleared land.

    With or without firebreaks, fuel reduction etc our forests go off like a bomb. If people can’t deal with the reality they should stay in the cities.

    This land has been used and abused for too long and now that we are finally stopping the onslaught we get clowns taking the law into their own hands and trying to retrospectively vindicate their criminality.

    If he’d adhered to the planning guidelines the money he spent clearing trees in excess of the guidelines could have been invested in fire fighting equipment such as a sprinkler system. The #$%@head would have been at least $80K ahead. I suspect the whole debacle had nothing to do with fire safety in the first place, he smells like an ego driven redneck maverick @#$%^& to me.

    http://www.mitchellshire.vic.gov.au/Files/12_Sept_05_Minutes.pdf

    The fires have let all sorts of lowlifes come slithering out from under their rocks.

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