Claim: Aussie Fire Chiefs “gagged”, Ordered not to Talk about Climate Change

Link between climate change and drought
h/t JoNova – a slide from Professor Pitman’s presentation in June 2019. Note Pitman later qualified his position by stating there is no “direct link”, though it is not clear exactly what he meant.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Decorated former firefighter Greg Mullins thinks fire chiefs are being prevented from talking about climate change.

‘Some things were out of bounds’: Fire chiefs ‘gagged’ on climate change warnings to government, inquiry told

Decorated former firefighter and climate action advocate Greg Mullins says current fire chiefs have been effectively gagged from raising the bushfire risks created by global warming with politicians.

Mr Mullins said he had “deep concerns over climate change”, which was fuelling “unprecedented” bushfires in evidence to a Senate inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfire season on Wednesday.

Asked by Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson if he thought “the current serving fire chiefs are gagged in some way”, Mr Mullins replied: “yes”.

Mr Mullins, a former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner, said when he was in the role “some things were out of bounds and often climate change was one of those issues, even to the point of having to work around it when preparing documents, and I think that is a tragedy”.

Read more:

This issue is more complex than it might seem.

There is a 20 year drying trend in Australia, which fire chiefs operating in those areas would have noticed, so I understand fire chiefs being concerned about climate change. But some parts of Australia are getting wetter. And on a 100 year timescale, there is no trend.

There is also very little correlation between temperature and bushfires. From Roy Spencer’s post;

First, if we correlate the yearly temperatures in Fig. 2 with the bushfire land area burned in Fig. 1, there is essentially no correlation (-0.11), primarily because of the huge 1974-75 event. If that year is removed from the data, there is a weak positive correlation (+0.19, barely significant at the 2-sigma level). But having statistics depend so much on single events (in this case, their removal from the dataset) is precisely one of the reasons why we should not use the current (2019-2020) wildfire events as an indicator of long-term climate change.

Secondly, while it is well known that the CMIP5 models are producing too much warming in the tropics compared to observations, in Australia just the opposite is happening: the BOM temperatures are showing more rapid warming than the average of the climate models produces. This could be a spurious result of changes in Australian thermometer measurement technology and data processing as has been claimed by Jennifer Marohasy.

Or, maybe the discrepancy is from natural climate variability. Who knows?

Read more:

But what if Roy Spencer is wrong? (just kidding Roy!) If the risk is getting worse, even on a 20 year timescale, what should be done about it? An obviously solution is to remove tracts of forest which pose a danger to people, and cut bigger firebreaks. But in Australia, there appears to be a strong relationship between land clearance and reduced rainfall, so removing too many trees might actually increase the risk of the rest of the woodlands burning.

But lets assume for a moment, despite the lack of evidence, that anthropogenic climate change is causing a problem. What should be done about it?

Embracing renewables is not a solution. How much forest would have to be cleared to power all of Australia from wind and solar energy? What impact would all this land clearance have on rainfall and fire risk? How much overcapacity would be required to eliminate the risk of blackouts, assuming this is even possible? How much water would be needed to clean the solar panels – in dry, dusty country, solar panels have to be washed regularly to stop the dust blocking the sunlight, just like house windows have to be cleaned to let the light in. The thousands of square miles of solar panels (see calculation below) which would be required to have any chance of powering Australia from renewable energy would consume a lot of water.

Nuclear power is the only zero carbon energy source which has a hope of replacing fossil fuel. But I doubt you will see Climate Council contributor Greg Mullins and his friends advocating for more nuclear power plants anytime soon. Like many green groups, the climate council is dead against zero carbon nuclear energy.

Calculation: how many solar panels would be required to power Australia?

Australia consumed 6,172 petajoules of energy in 2017-18. or 6,172 x 10^15 / (1000 * 3600) = 1714 billion kw/h. Using land art generator’s generous 400kwh / year / square metre, Australia would need 4.3 billion square metres of panels, or 4286 square kilometres (1654 square miles), an area equivalent to a square 66km (40 miles) on each side. Of course the real amount of land required would be far higher; my calculation assumes unlimited capacity 100% efficient energy storage and transmission, and no gaps between panels for access and maintenance.

Even if we stick with the idealised calculation, building the required solar system would still be impractical. A 4m^2 outdoor clothes hangar I recently installed in sandy clay required a recommended 40kg of concrete to stabilise the pole. Since solar panels can’t be furled in high winds like a clothes line, they would require a lot more concrete and structural support.

Assuming an optimistic weight of 50kg / square metre (concrete foundations, metal supports, panels, wiring, step up transformers, cleaning system, maintenance roads), building the array would require 4.3 billion square metres x 50kg = 215 billion million tons of concrete, refined silicon solar panels, wiring and metal supports. Australia currently produces 10 million tons of concrete, and 1.5 million tons of alumina per year, somewhat short of the required amount. A 20-100x increase in mining and heavy industry to produce the required concrete, metal and silicon panels would require a substantial upward revision to Australia’s 6,172 petajoule annual energy consumption number, which in turn would increase the area of solar panels which would have to be built.

Correction (EW): the calculation is 215 million tons of material, not 215 billion tons. The rest of the calculation is correct AFAIK, 215 million tons is 20-100x Australia’s current heavy industrial production of relevant material like concrete and alumina.

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May 27, 2020 10:12 pm

Eric great article!

Reply to  Eric Worrall
May 28, 2020 1:36 am

Fire chiefs should be giving evidence about frequency and extent of fires, problems with fuel removing controlled fires, etc. They should NOT be attempting attributions to “climate” of which they are neither data collectors nor competent experts.

Any “knowledge” they think they have about climate likely came from media or the general hysteria on the subject. Unless they have some specific drought or temperature data which they collect, they have nothing to report. That is why they have to avoid mentioning it reports: because they have no competence, not because they are “gagged”.

They probably have problems with funding , equipment, man power ( especially for controlled burning during the working week ). That is what they should be giving evidence on.

Reply to  Greg
May 28, 2020 12:19 pm

My thoughts exactly. I’m not aware of any climate science training required for firefighters so they are opining and nothing more. Further the way the questions read seems to be an all too familiar approach where a political individual (Paterson) asks a pre-loaded question of a presumed expert (Mullins who may be an expert in fire but is assuredly not in climate) to get an expected answer. Rehearsed comes to mind. Scripted also.

Melbourne Resident
Reply to  Greg
May 29, 2020 1:38 am

Exactly – they are not competant to understand what influences climate or drought – the real problem all along was not carrying out sufficient control burns as the State did not see it as a priority and local councils were scared to risk planned burns getting out of control (which does happen) and destroying property. Victoria only burned around one quarter of the area recommended for the years leading up to the fires. The matter was compounded by Greenies preventing low level burns in the forests as it might impact the animals, whilst the fires we now had have destroyed those very forests and most of the animals in them. There is a complete misunderstanding of the cause of droughts – if it was simply temperature – we would have deserts at the equator. What matters is dought – dryness – and that comes with cold weather as cold air holds less moisture. What starts fires is at least 50% or more human action. It is kind of convenient for the fire chiefs to blame climate change (which they have done) rather than their own failure to do sufficient prescribed burns – Rant over

Reply to  Warren
May 28, 2020 1:24 am

Updating my post of 10May2020:

Planting was ~one month across the Great Plains of North America for the past two years 2018 and 2019. In 2018 the growing season was warm and the crop recovered, but in 2019 there was a huge crop failure across the Great Plains; however the harvest was good in the USA East and South. In 2019 fully 30% of the huge USA corn crop was never planted because of wet ground. Much of the grain crop across the Great Plains was not harvested because of early cold and snow in the Fall.

By Allan M.R. MacRae and Joseph D’Aleo, October 27, 2019.

Hope we have a good grain crop this year, but don’t bet on it. Here is why:

The Nino 34 SST Anomaly has crashed from almost +0.7 on April 18th down to almost MINUS 0.6 on May 26th. a decline of ~1.2C. in 5 weeks.
comment image

5. UAH LT Global Temperatures can be predicted ~4 months in the future with just two parameters:
UAHLT (+4 months) = 0.2*Nino34Anomaly + 0.15 – 5*SatoGlobalAerosolOpticalDepth (Figs. 5a and 5b)

by Allan M.R. MacRae, June 15, 2019.

Four months from this rapid cooling of Nino34 SST’s is mid-August to mid-September 2020 – harvest time.
No volcanoes needed – depending on future Nino34 SST’s, cooling may already be locked in.

May 28, 2020 6:39 am

This should be a WUWT published article!

May 28, 2020 10:38 am

I see signs of cooling in many locations. One interesting example can be seen in the Himalayas. Temps across the mountain range have been substantially cooler then in previous years as seen when comparing screenshots from previous years with today’s view. Is this caused by the atmosphere deflating during this solar minimum? …,40.07,672/loc=94.312,32.534

Today for the first time a portion of the Himalayas has shrugged off the freezing temps. For the two years where I have saved pics of the mountain range the first warming started in late April or early May. So this is approximately a 3 week delay in warming from previous years.

Then there is the very large region of cold surface waters in the North Atlantic, and the freshly developing La Nina which will kill NOAAs claim for 2020 being another top warm year. That is good news to my ears as I have had my fill of their harping on the warmest years ever, stuff. If one looks at good high res temp graphs of some length, then it can be noted that the drop off points during Warm Periods can occur rapidly. I think that we are about to witness such a rapid change over the course of the next 3 years as temps in the Pacific drop as sunspots reemerge predominantly in the northern hemisphere of the sun. I am a bit surprised though at the depth of this rapid change in the 3.4 regions. Today’s 3.4 graph by Tropical T is down to 0.6 C. My forecast is for the 3.4 region to reach – 1.0 C or lower by the end of August. That may occur earlier than I thought.

May 28, 2020 11:05 am

I just spoke with my friend Joe D’Aleo – he says that planting in the Midwest is ~1 week or more EARLY this spring – so maybe the harvest be OK. Let’s hope so.

Reply to  Warren
May 28, 2020 1:31 am


In 2002 co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton, Ottawa and Allan MacRae wrote the following which are correct to date:

1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

2. “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

Allan MacRae published on September 1, 2002, based on a conversation with Dr. Tim Patterson:

3. “If [as we believe] solar activity is the main driver of surface temperature rather than CO2, we should begin the next cooling period by 2020 to 2030.”

Allan MacRae modified his global cooling prediction in 2013:

3a. “I suggest global cooling starts by 2020 or sooner. Bundle up.”

Reply to  Warren
May 28, 2020 7:24 am

Eric, what efficiency were you assuming for the solar panels?
Also were you assuming that the panels would receive 100% of the sun’s energy for 12 hours per day?

May 27, 2020 10:19 pm

Police think that about 42% of bushfires in Australia are caused by Arsonists. There is a lot more mileage to be gained from increased education, vigilance and policing than from looking at climate change. Fires occur where the fuel load is and not just where the temperature is up. Recent opposition by Green Groups to fire hazard reduction and firebreak clearing have resulted in many worse fires in some areas than would have occurred with proper preparation in the off-fire season. This sort of misguided concern over the cause of bushfires actually results in worse fires. The Green’s search for a “Climate-Change’ solution to bushfires actually results in worse fires.

John McC
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
May 28, 2020 4:54 am
September 20, 2019

Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid to prevent wildfires
Scientists and engineers worked with state and local agencies to develop and test a long-lasting, environmentally benign fire-retarding material. If used on high-risk areas, the simple, affordable treatment could dramatically cut the number of fires that occur each year.

May 27, 2020 10:32 pm

“How much forest would have to be cleared to power all of Australia from wind and solar energy?”
None. Zero. Zilch. Forest is a small fraction of Australian land, and if it were cleared, it would be valuable for agriculture. There are huge tracts of dry treeless land that can be used for solar and wind. I know of no such developments that required forest clearing.

“The thousands of square miles of solar panels…1654 square miles”
Australia’s area is nearly 3 million square miles. A lot is very sunny and too dry for agriculture, hence very cheap per sq mile.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 27, 2020 10:47 pm

Yep tracts not so close to any major city.

Bryan A
Reply to  Warren
May 28, 2020 10:47 pm

And where it isn’t very easy to keep battery backup systems cool either

Melbourne Resident
Reply to  Bryan A
May 29, 2020 1:40 am

and not sufficient water to keep the dust off those solar panels

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 27, 2020 11:18 pm

Australia’s area is nearly 3 million square miles.

I just hate it when Nick is right. On the other hand, I’m not sure what the difference between getting intermittent, unreliable (and atrociously expensive to back up) power from cleared forest versus desert is.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
May 28, 2020 6:25 pm

Correct Eric and vast areas of those trees are national parks. Can’t see greenies allowing their parks to be flattened for renewable energy.
But on the other hand it would help solve the problem of dealing with the build up of fuels on the forest floor that exacerbated the bush fires in the first place. Sarc.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 27, 2020 11:38 pm

Heh, you’ve never traveled Australia, have you Nick?

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 12:28 am

If one were serious about becoming zero CO2 and it’s economically feasible to connect up thousands of inland solar and wind generators (Germany has over 30,000 wind turbines) with consumers mainly in cities it would be more sensible in the long run to build inland uranium processing and nuclear power plants with supporting accommodation, airports etc. and supply the entire east coast and SA using local ore.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 28, 2020 3:25 am

Good comment.
Also small reactors could be combined with desalination plants.

Bryan A
Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 28, 2020 10:51 pm

Not so sure about Inland Nuclear plants, especially in central Australia, lots of water is needed for cooling

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 12:44 am

Wind farm also require power lines to get from the distant treeless place to the city.
Re Robbins wind farm in Tasmania
From Bob Brown website.
“And to feed the power to the grid a 170km long, 60 metre wide easement is required for the high voltage transmission line, complete with access roads to the 400 transmission towers will be required. This easement will cut through both farmland and forests, including existing conservation reserves and areas recommended for National Heritage listing. These areas are home to Masked owl, Tasmanian devil and Spot tailed quoll.”

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 12:49 am

Nope… Nick is full of it, as usual.
The “good for farming” land was mostly cleared over a century ago. The forest that remains in high rainfall areas is in areas that are either too steep, too stony or too prone to flooding.

The vast areas of lower-value grazing land are so remote from th3 major population and industrial centres that the cost of building transmission lines and the power losses involved in transmission over those distances have made power generation out there even less economic.

The reality is that solar farm proposals are springing up all over good cropping and grazing land close to population centres and existing transmission infrastructure. My property is in 650mm rainfall country and valued at around $10,000 per ha, but the solar companies have been applying for sites here, not the $10/ha country out past Innaminka.

Reply to  PeterW
May 28, 2020 1:56 am

“The reality is that solar farm proposals are springing up all over good cropping and grazing land close to population centres”
Well, looking through the list of projects, largest first:
Limondale, Balranald shire
Bungala, near Port Augusta
Daydream, near the old Collinsville power station, back of Proserpine (fairly dry country)
These are not on high quality farmland, or near population centres.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 2:43 am

There are staff that are paid to DAILY wash the panels in Collinsville because of the dust that constantly covers them!
Thats efficient! FFS.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 3:06 am

Nope, nowhere near ANY major population areas.

Take your foot off the keyboard, Nick !!

Old Cocky
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 2:59 pm

Good grief, Nick.

Are you seriously saying that the MIA is not prime agricultural land?

If that’s the case, there isn’t any in Australia

Reply to  Old Cocky
May 28, 2020 4:16 pm

“MIA is not prime agricultural land?”

Yes. Griffith gets less than 400 mm rain a year. The MIA is, wait for it, an irrigation area. A very limited region can be irrigated with the water available. The rest is very suitable for solar power. You can even wash the panels.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 3:53 pm

Nick is a typical Green Propagandist.

I live between two of the largest regional cities in the country -places that Nick denies are “population centres”. The nearest development application was 3 minutes down the road. I know the landholder who wanted to sell the land. I know his done who was bloody outraged. I know the neighbours who were “consulted”.


I have friends and acquaintances at Finley. Farming land there is worth thousands of dollars per hectare. It is also closer to Australia’s second-largest city and industrial centre -Melbourne – that the Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme. Colleambally is a major irrigation area.

Port Augusta has major INDUSTRIES. (Typical of a troll, Nick “refutes” an irrelevant criteria and hopes that you won’t notice the relevant ones)

Collinsville is located in tropical Queensland. What Nick calls “fairly dry country” has over 50 inches of rainfall.

If Nick told me that the sun was shining, I’d look out the window to check.
Green Zealots. They can’t be trusted.

Reply to  PeterW.
May 28, 2020 4:26 pm

So was the solar farm built? How big?

Finley gets 16 inches rain a year. Collinsville gets 27 inches, but it is tropical (and seasonal), so still pretty dry. Port Augusta gets 8 inches; there is industry, but plenty of land around for solar farms.

Reply to  PeterW.
May 30, 2020 2:50 am

Nick…. You said that it was near Proserpine and that Proserpine was “fairly dry”. The BOM lists Proserpine as over 1300mm mean annual rainfall. …. So you used the wrong location and your knowledge of what constitutes “fairly dry” is obviously abysmal.

Let’s continue. At the listed 700mm per annum, Collinsville is in the wettest 20% of the Australian landmass.
Finley, at 16 inches is bang on the National average and is well inside the wettest 50% by landmass area. Good farmers are getting decent productivity and paying thousands of dollars per ha.

All of which gives the lie to any claim that solar farms are being restricted to low-value land in the drier areas of Australia. None of the country involved is low-value, unproductive desert.

As for the local proposal, it failed to meet the criteria for the subsidies required to make it economic and there are rumours – the would-be developers are not exactly free with their information – the there were errors in their assessment of the available infrastructure.

The status of three similar development applications near Culcairn, Jindera and Bungowannah (all in 500mm plus country and within 25minutes of ALBURY-Wodonga) is undetermined.

Reply to  PeterW.
May 30, 2020 3:09 am

“You said that it was near Proserpine and that Proserpine was “fairly dry”.”
No, I said it was “near the old Collinsville power station, back of Proserpine (fairly dry country)”
You can see the Google Map image here. It is non-farming country next to the power station. Notice that the solar use of land is dwarfed by the coal mining pits, at least an order of magnitude less.

Reply to  PeterW.
May 31, 2020 12:39 am

Still not dry, by and stretch of the imagination. Quit pretending. It appears that you haven’t done much farming.

Further, I looked up the Transgrid map of applications to connect to and supply the grid. Only four of the dozens of such applications in NSW were west of the wheat-sheep belt. Just two of them are out in the really dry, remote country – out near Broken Hill. These are the facilities that are proving uneconomic because losses in transmission are around 25%.

The daydream of huge areas of the outback covered in solar panels remain a fantasy.

Another Ian
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 3:03 am

And how long the power lines to get it to centres of power need?

Reply to  Another Ian
May 28, 2020 6:35 am

No longer than these

Technically achievable. The only question is whether its economic to do so.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 28, 2020 12:22 pm

Why does everyone presume that desert is dead and devoid of life? The fauna in a desert area is cryptic and mostly nocturnal, meaning lay persons won’t be aware of much of it. But we’re all perfectly ok with disrupting that ecosystem because we don’t have the faintest of understandings of it? That seems rather callous to me. Putting up tens of thousands of panels is going to dramatically alter that ecosystem. But I guess that’s ok, because we’re not familiar with it.

Also please note that a lot of Australia while being very sunny and too dry for agriculture is also incredibly remote relative to the population base. You aren’t putting panels in the Nullabor and powering Sydney.

May 27, 2020 10:35 pm

Greg Mullins says current fire chiefs have been effectively gagged from raising the bushfire risks created by global warming with politicians.

If you criticize the climate alarmists you are in the pay of Big Oil. If you don’t criticize, but don’t voice support for the climate alarmists, you are being gagged. Apparently the only evidence that the alarmists can present is conspiracy theories .

Sceptical lefty
Reply to  davidmhoffer
May 28, 2020 7:32 pm

I’ll concede the possibility that current fire chiefs have been ‘gagged’. However, when a qualified professional makes public statements that he expects to be accorded gravitas on the basis of his qualifications and status, he should feel ethically bound to confine his pronouncements to his field of expertise. If ethics are insufficient, then perhaps ‘gagging’ may be a reasonable action.
If ‘Greg Mullins, ex-Fire Chief’ wishes to expound on firefighting practices his contribution should be welcomed and weighted accordingly.
Climate change is a field rich in controversy, contaminated with funny money and infested with unsavoury characters. It is undoubtedly relevant to all of us, including Mr Mullins, but it is not a factor in practical firefighting or (at current rates) short-to-medium-term land management related to firefighting. Current fire chiefs would be well-advised to steer clear and former fire chiefs should think very hard before invoking what remains of their status to comment on this subject.

Reply to  Sceptical lefty
May 29, 2020 9:15 pm

But he was appointed by that nice Mr Turnbull to the Climate Council .

May 27, 2020 10:44 pm

If that is the case, it is a Good Thing, because given the amount of coverage and airtime they HAVE received, if they had not been “gagged” there would have been no time for anything else.

Mullins is a bureaucrat, a political appointee showing all the signs of suffering from relevance-deprivation syndrome

Reply to  PeterW
May 28, 2020 12:41 am

Further, it pays to remember tgat our appalling lack of preparedness for bad fire seasons, developed on Mullin’s watch.
The more he and his cronies claim to have known that bad seasons were coming, the more responsibility they had to prepare for it.

Their own training says that we can’t put out big fires, intense fires with trucks and helicopters, but guess what they asked for?

Chris Hanley
May 27, 2020 10:47 pm

Even if Australia were 100% reliant on wind and solar, does Greg Mullins think that would create some dome of weather tranquility over the country, like it was in ,say, 1950 when the atmospheric CO2 concentration was ~ 315 ppm⸮

May 27, 2020 10:51 pm

I think it was Mullins who said that the fires were due to climate change and that fuel reduction activities were mainly useless.

In reality, Australia has had 20 years of drier climate which is entirely normal but our fire chiefs don’t seem to have any knowledge of history and most were shrieking climate change.

5 minutes in wiki would have shown them that the fires didn’t kill the most people , didn’t destroy the most property and didn’t burn the most acreage.

They often said that fire seasons were getting longer because of climate change, as if this is the new normal but when the drying trend finishes and fire seasons become shorter, nothing will be said.

Reply to  Peter
May 29, 2020 12:40 pm

It was and he is an eco-activist loon who just so happens to have been a fire fighter. He hangs out with the rest of the fools at the climate council (

Chris Hanley
May 27, 2020 11:04 pm

“But some parts of Australia are getting wetter. And on a 100 year timescale, there is no trend …”.
I would say there is a trend, the longest available data from 1910 indicates most of Australia is getting wetter, or less dry.
comment image

Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 28, 2020 6:40 am

There is most definitely a wetter trend

Here, from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ie. the horse’s mouth)

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
May 28, 2020 1:18 pm

Here, from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ie. the horse’s mouth)

I rather think that you have attributed the wrong end of the horse for that particular organisation.

May 27, 2020 11:17 pm

just a small point…”cut bigger firebreaks”.

Firebreaks don’t stop fires, they are there to provide safe access for fire fighters and their equipment.

As an example when large fires threatened Kalgoorlie some years ago firebreaks 4 chains [approx 80m] were bulldozed through the bush north of the city. The firebreaks didn’t halt the fire as burning rabbits hopped across the break spreading the fire south.

Closer to my home in 2011 a fire pushed by strong northerly winds jumped across a river 200m wide and continued on its merry way. Among the houses destroyed were two large houses equipped with state of the art fire mitigation systems. The combination of fire, flammable scrub close to the houses and wind could not be countered, even by water bombers.

Old Cocky
Reply to  GregK
May 28, 2020 3:16 pm

I don’t have any experience with forest fires, but grass fires are fought by starvation.

Ploughed or graded fire breaks are the anchor point for burning back onto. A line of fire is started a small distance upwind of the break, It quickly burns back onto the break and runs out of fuel on that side. Any small fires which start on the break are extinguished by the tanker. Meanwhile, the fire slowly burns its way upwind to widen the fuel-free section.
If necessary, the exercise can be repeated upwind of the now wider break.

Coeur de Lion
May 27, 2020 11:30 pm

Do brushwood clearing homeowners get fined in Oz?

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
May 28, 2020 1:51 am

After the 2009 bushfires Victorians in fire zones were given exemptions to clear around their homes.
Generally, trees 10m from existing house and vegetation 30m from house.
Fence lines can also be cleared.
However, permission to clear new home sites is very difficult to obtain.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
May 28, 2020 4:53 am

you have to get permission AND advertise for dissenters to clear any scrub off your land over 50mm round
ie 2 inches roughly
so regrowth and sapling have to be tilled in damned fast.

you get some leeway for immediate home n fenceline clearing is all.

treechangers and the ultragreens buying and heavily planting blocks are causing firejazards but they get PAID very well to do so.
co2 crap bonuses etc.
and anyne palnting gums within 100ft of a home in Aus bushland rural areas is a certifiable fool
lots on NON flammable non native shade trees would be wind n sahde providers without the risk

meanwhile the areas the Brumbies graze in highcountry vic didnt burn
so the govt and the greens now want to shoot the remaining 100 of them.

for land protection habitat preservation, funny that 200+ yrs of wild horses and the supposed damaged plants are there and so are the water holes etc

May 27, 2020 11:36 pm

“Fire chiefs ‘gagged’ on climate change warnings to government”

OMG this kind of gagging has also come to Thailand where by law rice field irrigation managers are gagged from issuing warnings to the government on the dangers of the high speed train system the government is putting in. Surely rice field managers ought to know as they can see from the ricefield just how fast these trains are.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 27, 2020 11:53 pm
Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 28, 2020 12:32 am

”This 2018 study in the journal Nature Communications found that if our planet does reach the global average temperature of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which is highly likely in the next couple of decades, then the frequency of extreme positive phase dipoles in the Indian Ocean looks set to double as a result”

Are they taking bets?

Reply to  Mike
May 28, 2020 4:55 am

my ara rightnow
avg top temps 1.6 below avg
cold is 1c below avg
and supposedly the wettest autumn in 30yrs
after the never ending drought claims
all Bom forecasts for aus rains this yr proved wrong
loving the neg slide on ENSO right now;-)))

Reply to  Mike
May 28, 2020 7:11 pm

Is this the study that found more sst variability during deglaciation?

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 28, 2020 12:35 am

Mullins is not gagged.
I’ve spent 40 years in a fire service in the same State in which Mullins served. The only “gagging” is self-gagging by those fire-bureaucrats who were not prepared to support either their Service members or the population that they were supposed to defend.
They were political appointees and you can bet your last dollar that political correctness was a criteria when they were applying for the job, and for their longevity in the position.

Keep in mind that the build-up of fuels and the deterioration of fire access trails occurred on their watch. If they do not blame climate change, they may be held accountable for their State’s lack of preparedness.

The more you claim to “know” that something bad is coming, the more responsibility you have to prepare for it. They did not.

May 27, 2020 11:53 pm

The Green environmental blight is one issue, especially for animal, but also plant rights. Still, it can be reconciled, or rather ignored, by people and entities who adhere to the Pro-Choice religious/ethical code.

Ian MacCulloch
May 27, 2020 11:57 pm

Most of inland water supply in Australia is saline and or brackish – that rules out aluminium.
The aboriginal population has managed fire risk for the odd 10s of thousands of years through cool month strategic burn off. Lowering the fuel load on the forest floor applies just as much in Australia as it does in California – even President Trump knows that basic aspect.
Further lowering the microclimate temperature in the Aussie scrub during is a necessity. This was achieved by a couple of privateer examples on the south coast of NSW during the last fire season. It required planning but in each case remarkably successful. The use of nonindigenous species can achieve this such as poplars for example.
Extended dry periods make for difficult burn off seasons such as the ones leading up these recent outbreaks. It has happened before and it will happen again.
Finally, BOM & CSIRO start their respective databases in 1910. Plotted for the next 110 years there is evidence of global warming. Had they chosen 1890 as the start date they would have been able to demonstrate global cooling as this time period includes the Federation drought. During this period the weather was that hot the birds were dropping out of the sky. At no time since has this phenomenon been reported.
Last season was by far not the largest area burnt in recorded history in Australia. It ranks back about #4 or 5.

May 28, 2020 12:14 am

Overall Aussie rainfall has increased over the last 125 years and higher trend since about 1972. See the BOM rainfall trend for total rainfall and I’ve also added the very dry drought period from 1895 to 1902. ( Fed drought)

May 28, 2020 12:27 am

”Mr Mullins said he had “deep concerns over climate change”, which was fuelling “unprecedented” bushfires in evidence to a Senate inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfire season on Wednesday.”

This is why I have zero respect from Mullins. (or the BOM who said just yesterday that it would get worse in the future – based on what I have no idea) There is no evidence that so-called climate change fueled bushfire this past season. None. It was a combination of WEATHER and fuel load. But of course that just doesn’t fit with the Climate ”Council’s” agenda.
As for the drying trend having an influence. How do you attribute 0 to 20mm less rainfall PER DECADE starting 1970 …
or a basically zero trend since 1900 … … to the severe bushfire season just past? One drizzly day would wipe out that ”trend”.
So Mullins is basically just closing his eyes and ears and singing la la la la la.
I knew the Royal Commission would turn into a circus if you let the climate zombies anywhere near it.

George Lawson
May 28, 2020 12:46 am

Slightly off topic, but can any of our Australian friends comment on the current situation in the burnt out areas regarding new growth or animals returning Or are the burnt areas still just ashes?

Lewis P Buckingham
Reply to  George Lawson
May 28, 2020 4:35 am

The burned areas boom back into life.
The Australian bush has been modified by fire to the extent now that the bush needs fire to regenerate.Many of the plants produce seeds, which germinate after fire in the ash produced in the previous fires. The burned trunks and limbs reveal new loci of growth not seen in European pine trees.
Koalas join the feeding frenzy on the new green pick and produce their pouched offspring in the Spring.
Wait for the news coverage that the Koala has been saved.
The aboriginals constantly controlled bush by the use of the firestick.
Europeans used cattle and sheep to control and maintain green pasture, wheras aboriginal management
burned areas leading initially to grasslands.
The Northern Territory saw the fire bird. I have seen video of this but can’t find it for you,
Interestingly when European settlers put cattle onto dry grasslands, the cattle ate the dry grass which stimulated it to produce green shoots which the roos ate. A sort of win win for roos.They reach plague proportions.
Notably a number of small hamlets, down the South Coast of NSW,were totally destroyed in the recent fires. These used be timber getter cottages. The timber getters made sure the fire never reached them in the past.
Once the forests were locked up in National Parks they just built up biomass and burned in the face of drought.
There is no trend in droughts in Australia.
The CO2 hypotheses says that CO2 drives ocean evaporation which increases the major greenhouse gas, water vapour.
So intuitively one would conclude that rainfall,on average, would increase.
Now if one assumed that CO2 was also causing more and worse droughts, then intuitively the rate and size of droughts would have increased, especially since the middle of the last century, which did not happen.
So if global warming is going on, CO2 rise must actually be preventing an increase in droughts, that’s if one assumes, as some do, that global warming must be causing more droughts.
I thing the Greens need to sort out their narrative about droughts.
So the rational conclusion is that CO2 rise is independent of droughts.
Thats the maths so thats the science.
Now that the Indian Ocean Dipole is trending negative with neutral ENSO it looks as if we may be over the worse of this drought.
We would be fools not to plan and build to prevent more hot fires wiping out our National Parks, leaving them to destroy the local people.
The Bungonia National Park is a case in point.
The fires trending there could have burned to Goulburn, but for the IOD fall.
These National parks need to be fire ring fenced.
Otherwise in the next decade we will still be discussing how solar panels will prevent future fires and drought, to the detriment of our children and their families.

Reply to  George Lawson
May 28, 2020 5:04 am

burnt areas start rgenerating within weeks in most places and they found the rare pink slugs up in the high areas already coming out from their rock hideyholes within a day or so of rains.
our bush survives only because it does require fire to cause many seeds to sprout at all
nurseries use smokewater additive to get them growing.
and yes baby birds and some animals did die horribly
koalas were over represented in many places so natures culled as it does
ditto any roos etc that didnt run fast enough or find a safe spot.
cows n sheep and even horses that were fenced in suffered badly, they had no chance at all.
plenty pics online of green grasses appearing within days of the rains afterwards proving the soils didnt burn so hot, or the seed wouldnt BE there.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  George Lawson
May 28, 2020 1:31 pm

All burnt areas regenerate quite quickly. As others say, it has become part of the natural cycle. Some areas are fine within a few months, others may take a year or two.

Greenies are wailing and gnashing their teeth about the wildlife too, demanding funds to help them. They are, of course, doing fine by themselves as usual, since animals and plants happily breed to fill empty niches. Obviously the greenies will claim that these efforts were the cause of the regeneration, and demand more taxpayer funding in future.

May 28, 2020 1:05 am

Any fire chief who blamed climate change for the bushfire apocalypse should be gagged & forensically audited for corrupt practices. Apocalyptic fires = big business for the business model run fire services. consider just a few of a truckload of empirical findings verifiable with observation in the real world. Fact one – there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever in tree rings or earth core samples of intense fires pre-whites in Australia. Fact two – the First Nation cool burnt to reduce fuel loads with no fleet of ineffective aircraft that crashes occasionally in smoke & turbulence of apocalyptic fires or fleet of firetrucks following ordered to attack firestorms to die occasionally until finally only a weather change puts out flames. Fact three – except for the NT & WA, it is almost impossible to get adequate hazard reduction. Since 2010 when the Victorian Royal commission recommended a minimum of 5% pa of cool burning to reduce fuel loads, fire chiefs have ordered less than 1% pa hazard reductions. In NSW, this zero protection fire chiefs announced this zero protection will be halved in the next decade. Fact three – from regular cool burning on a shoestring budget as taught by the First Nation, Oz now spends about $5billion pa on ineffective strategies ruining biodiversity, causing agonising deaths, lost rural production, trauma etc… that these fire chiefs claimed they were protecting. Fact four – NASA, CAMS & other satellite analysis shows that the recent fires, NSW in particular, put out an immense amount of radiative energy. NSW fires put out about eight days worth of the state’s electrical energy output. Can these fire chiefs really fool people that it was climate that produced this energy and not the massive unprecedented fuel loads? Satellite data shows these fires’ massive negative effect ON climate – drought, storms, heating then cooling & not vice versa. Do you think that perhaps this claim to being gagged & victimised might be a smokescreen to hide their cuplbability?

Carl Friis-Hansen
May 28, 2020 1:06 am

Great article, I especially liked the runaway solar panel process:

A 20-100x increase in mining and heavy industry to produce the required concrete, metal and silicon panels would require a substantial upward revision to Australia’s 6,172 petajoule annual energy consumption number, which in turn would increase the area of solar panels which would have to be built.

But that is how it is, if you insist on converting a low energy source into high energy.

Why do Greens hate stored solar energy (fossil fuel) so much?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
May 28, 2020 1:25 pm

Why do Greens hate stored solar energy (fossil fuel) so much?

Because they give us cheap, plentiful and reliable energy, and thus generate wealth. It’s the wealth that they hate, with extreme prejudice.

May 28, 2020 1:14 am

OOPSY! Typos everywhere in my last comment – one day of NSW fires put out about eight days of the state’s electrical energy output. ALSO! In NSW, fire chiefs announced that this zero protection will be halved in the next decade – so prepare for an even worse Armageddon.

May 28, 2020 1:31 am

The Royal Commission terms of reference are not just about climate change.

A.the responsibilities of, and coordination between, the Commonwealth and State, Territory and local Governments relating to preparedness for, response to, resilience to, and recovery from, natural disasters, and what should be done to improve these arrangements, including with respect to resource sharing;
B. Australia’s arrangements for improving resilience and adapting to changing climatic conditions, what actions should be taken to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters, and whether accountability for natural disaster risk management, preparedness, resilience and recovery should be enhanced, including through a nationally consistent accountability and reporting framework and national standards;
C. whether changes are needed to Australia’s legal framework for the involvement of the Commonwealth in responding to national emergencies, including in relation to the following:
I. thresholds for, and any obstacles to, State or Territory requests for Commonwealth assistance;
II.whether the Commonwealth Government should have the power to declare a state of national emergency;
III. how any such national declaration would interact with State and Territory emergency management frameworks;
IV. whether, in the circumstances of such a national declaration, the Commonwealth Government should have clearer authority to take action (including, but without limitation, through the deployment of the Australian Defence Force) in the national interest;
any relevant matter reasonably incidental to a matter referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c).”

The part about coordination between government agencies in bushfire preparedness is critical.
A local fire unit may be ready willing and able to carry out fuel reduction burning but their hands are tied from lack of funds or unwillingness of local governments (due to green elements)

High Treason
May 28, 2020 1:47 am
Here is the truth bomb from June 2019 where Professor Andy Pitman stresses there is no link between drought and climate change as well as no long term drying trend. Listen and read this several times-it is clear, it is stressed.
If the fires are related to drought, but drought is NOT related to “climate change”, then the narrative that the fires are related to “climate change” and therefore human CO2 is invalid. To continue pushing an untruth-pretending and doggedly believing it to be truth is akin to propaganda.
Propaganda did not end with the Nazis.

May 28, 2020 2:08 am

Why are we still talking about the average of Australian climate?
For IPCC purposes there are eight rainfall zones.
I live in the smallest ( but still more than 100,000sqkm)- the southern slopes.
But even in the southern slopes the climate, terrain and vegetation varies considerably.

Any alarmists hypotheses about connection of raising temperature and increased bushfire needs to be proven for each region not national averages.

May 28, 2020 3:10 am

As far as we know, the threat of bush fires in Australia is not a climate change threat but a human threat. Most of the bush fires have been started directly or indirectly by peoples’ negligence.

Eamon Butler
May 28, 2020 4:56 am

Quite frankly, I think, there should be a lot more gagging of ”climate experts” and not just the firemen. About 97% of them in fact.

Gerald Machnee
May 28, 2020 5:22 am

The “gagging” is only an excuse for poor planning. First, NOBODY has shown that “climate change” is the problem. Second, IF IF IF climate change is a cause, NOBODY has proved that decreasing emissions will cause ANY change in the temperature. Just speculation. How many fires are there today?

May 28, 2020 6:31 am

Climate change campaigning led to “carbon farming” where people got tax breaks for growing wood on their land. In a drought, this could be known as “tinder farming”. The Australian government legislation website provides the legislation. They publish reports/data explaining how much carbon they have taken out the air. Not surprisingly, when this burns all the carbon is released back into the atmosphere and it is all for naught.

Legislation encouraging “Carbon Farming”- ie building up carbon stocks on the land:

Reports into carbon inventories

Check out the table on the bottom. The land use/forestry (in green) goes from 95 000 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2005 to negative 23 000 000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year on the most recent numbers. That is a lot of wood being grown.

Negative carbon growth indicates increase in forest revegetation equivalent to 104 000 tonnes of CO2 in NSW since early 2000s. This doesn’t seen enough given the table above:

Land use shows increase in carbon inventories. Table 16 shows significant reduction in burning after 2009 in Queensland and a corresponding increase in wildfires. I wonder if they had many fires recently.

The government website is really helpful. I haven’t tried it, but they seem to have a nice new carbon accountancy tool:

I haven’t got the time to do a detailed analysis but I really think that someone should.

May 28, 2020 6:34 am

Australia has one of the highest rates of uptake of renewables in the world and has been sabotaging its very reliable coal fired plants by blowing them up. Yet we are ( according to our alarmists ) having increased fire seasons. Wouldn’t that suggest that it makes no difference .In fact it could be argued that the more renewables we put in , the worse the fires get ,a clear pattern that has developed in the last 10-15 years.
Or Maybe the warmists just tell porkies to support their narrative.

May 28, 2020 6:48 am

“a slide from Professor Pitman’s presentation in June 2019. Note Pitman later qualified his position by stating there is no “direct link”, though it is not clear exactly what he meant.”

Hoo, that’s an easy one! He means “I do not know!”.

May 28, 2020 7:21 am

Political appointees shouldn’t talk about things outside their area of expertise.

And people have a problem with this?

Mr Bliss
May 28, 2020 7:25 am

Isn’t one of the biggest problems faced by the Australian fire service the fact that they are mostly – if not all – reservists. This has meant that the number of suitable days for tree clearing is greatly reduced due to the non-availability of staff. Isn’t THAT one of the issues that fire chiefs should be raising?

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 28, 2020 7:48 am

A transition away from fossil fuels is a decades-long endeavor, even under the most optimistic assumptions. The effects of reduced CO2 on climate-aggravated brushfires would take decades longer to manifest, again according to official IPCC science. And has been pointed out innumerable times, whatever Australia does will make bugger-all difference to the global climate unless the rest of the industrialized and developing nations do likewise — also official IPCC science.

Meanwhile, brushfires are a this fire season problem which needs to be addressed on a corresponding timeframe. And there are ample effective strategies: fuel load reduction, increased arson pursuit and prosecution among others. All these can be done by Australia without needing any other nation to go along, and will make a difference almost immediately.

For a fire chief to claim the only way he can discharge his duties is to pursue remedies that can’t have any impact for decades is at least nonfeasance and probably misfeasance. This would be like a military officer in WWII claiming the only way to beat the Germans was establish the UN and get the Germans to join. Time to install new fire chiefs.

May 28, 2020 9:08 am

The history of fire in Australia during the Quaternary is a story of VEGETATION not climate. The same climate trend has produced increases in fires in some areas of Australia and at the same time produced decreases in others, the greatest differences usually being between the northeastern Tropics and the mid-southern cooler regions. Anyone who claims otherwise is cherry-picking their sites (and some of the most cited papers do exactly that).

Curious George
May 28, 2020 6:07 pm

In California, native Americans used to burn the floor of Yosemite Valley regularly, to provide grass for deer (their favorite protein). Now, under a loving care of the National Park service, meadows are being displaced by forests.

Paul MR
May 30, 2020 8:28 am

Sorry Greg
A number of leading Australia Bush Fire researchers do not agree with you. Both Phil Chenney and David Packham have stated publicly it is about fuel management and access.

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