Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Dr. Willie Soon; Nature predicts decades of worsening bushfires, and urges Australia to “show us what climate action looks like”.
Australia: show the world what climate action looks like
The fires are a wake-up call. The country’s leaders must now act on overwhelming evidence and public opinion.
The top priority is to protect lives and ecosystems. But the nation’s leaders must surely realize that they not only need to talk about climate change, but also need to act decisively to reduce the emissions that are driving it.
Australia’s leaders have known for many years that climate change would make bush fires worse. They were warned in an independent report commissioned by the national and state governments in 2008 that from 2020 onwards, fire seasons would start earlier, end later and be more intense.
But as Nature has frequently reported, the country’s politicians delayed meaningful action through a wasted decade of arguments over whether human activities are causing climate change — in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that they are. Undoubtedly, one reason for this is that Australia — which is the world’s largest coal exporter — has repeatedly prioritized the coal industry’s needs over the planet’s.
Australia’s tragedy is that more-extreme fires are already forecast. Centuries of greenhouse-gas emissions have locked the world into several decades of warming, even if global emissions were to drop to zero now. If the Morrison government continues its current trajectory, then the country is likely to experience even more severe droughts and fires.
…Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00152-y
Just one problem with this prediction – what exactly would these “more extreme fires” burn?
Once a forest suffers a severe fire, it takes years of regrowth before fire becomes a serious threat again. If climate change is causing droughts to worsen, if Australia is steadily drying and heating up because of climate change, there would not be a lot of regrowth. The tracks of the extreme fires which do burn would eventually function as massive firebreaks, preventing further large scale conflagration.
My point is, predictions that fires will get worse apparently without limit are absurd. Not only would these predicted superfires fairly rapidly run out of trees to burn, if all else fails, eventually people would bulldoze any trees which threaten humans, and cut firebreaks on a sufficient scale to contain any fires which do start; something the Australian government arguably should be doing anyway.