Bushfires, Concepts of Wilderness, and a New Book

Reposted from Jennifer Marohasy’s Blog

Bushfires, Concepts of Wilderness, and a New Book

October 9, 2020 By jennifer

Journalist Clarissa Bye from the Daily Telegraph has done a really good job of summarizing my concerns and recommendations for better bushfire management across Australia. The article entitled ‘Burning Question on Fires and Climate Link’ has been republished in so many of the News Ltd regional papers including The Frazer Coast Chronicle and The Byron Shire News and is based on Chapter 16 in my new book, ‘Climate Change: The Facts 2020’. Clarissa writes:

Dr Marohasy says insufficient hazard reduction played a part in the fuel load of the recent bushfires, and that neglecting fire management in eucalypt forests ¬simply made them “more prone to severe fires that will eventually destroy them”.

But she argues we need to return to a better understanding of traditional Aboriginal burning methods, build support for hazard reduction and develop a consistent methodology for determining fire severity.

“A focus on hazard reduction burning to keep landscapes generally more open and thus safer for people and wildlife, would be more useful than blaming climate change – at least until there is better quality assurance of actual temperature measurements,” Dr Marohasy said.

I do spend some time in chapter 16 explaining that Eucalyptus forests are not the same as rainforests and that which type of forest we end-up with will depend on how the landscape is managed – or not.

Much of Australia was open woodland at the time of European settlement and actively managed by the First Australians (Aborigines) to keep it that way. Excluding fire can help such forests transition to rainforest, but in the process the forests are more vulnerable to incineration at least until there is a proper closed-overcanopy.

So, there is actually a need for active management of the landscape to ensure fire suppression within and around these forests until a proper rainforest has established. So it is important to have firebreaks and hazard reduction burning in areas surrounding rainforests.

There is generally a very poor understanding within the dominant white Australian culture of the extent to which natural landscapes are dynamic. Indeed, the type of vegetation at any one time will depend not only on the soil type and rainfall but also on the historical fire management regime.

The Australian Aboriginal culture has a completely different, and more realistic and practical notion of land management. Indeed there is an aboriginal saying that begins: Wilderness is a land without custodians.

The article by Clarissa begins:

The bushfires that swept through Australia last summer were repeatedly des¬cribed as “unprecedented” and blamed on climate change, but a new book has rejected those claims, saying the statistics prove otherwise.

Climate Change: The Facts 2020 examines records on rainfall, hectares burnt, temperatures and the ecology of eucalypt forests, and argues that fires just as ferocious and extensive have burned in Australia since at least 1851.

In February, Paris Climate Agreement talks leader Christina Figueres described Australia’s summer bushfires as the “worst disaster that has ever hit the planet”.

But senior research fellow at the Institute of Public ¬Affairs Jennifer Marohasy, who edited the book and wrote the chapter on bushfires, says the book’s contributors assert that climate is subject to cycles, and the current situation is “not ¬unusual” or “catastrophic”.

An estimated 20 million hectares of land mass may have burned last summer.

“This is an extraordinarily vast area considering much of it was in the southeast,” Dr Marohasy said. “A similarly vast area of 21 million hectares was lost to unplanned fires as recently as 2012-13. “However, this is not the largest area burned by uncontrolled fires. In 1974-75, 117 million hectares burned.”
Only three people died in the 1974-75 fires, which burned mostly in uninhabited parts of Central Australia…

On claims Australia is drier than ever, Dr Marohasy said the wettest summer since 1990 was as recent as 2010-11.

“If anything, these official statistics suggest it is getting wetter, rainfall statistics for the entire Australian continent, available for download from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, also indicate that more recent years have been wetter, especially the past 50 years,” she said.

Dr Marohasy acknowledges the fires were utterly devastating…
The book has chapters by biologists, atmospheric physicists, meteorologists and a volcanologist who “conclude that there is nothing unusual about the current rate or magnitude of climate change,” she said. Ends of article by Clarissa

The official statistics for the entire Australian continent do not show declining rainfall.

My new book was only available through commercial booksellers in Australia from yesterday, but in the few days preceding this we sold 600 copies through the IPA website!

The book is published by Australian Scholarly Publishers (ASP). The book is just now being shipped to the international distributor – to both their US and UK branches. Then they will be available for Amazon and BookDepository to make available for sale on their sites. This is apparently the fastest way for us to get make the books available to the international markets with cheaper shipping, but it will still take about 8-10 weeks from departure in Australia to be ready for sale on these sites.

In the meantime, the climatechangethefacts.org.au website works for domestic and also international purchases.

In his testimony to the recent Royal Commission on the devastating bushfires Andrew Johnson, the head of The Australian Bureau claimed rainfall was in decline. The data does not support this contention. When Josh Frydenberg was the Minister responsible for the Bureau he asked Andrew Johnson to meet with me. I tried to set-up several meetings, but he kept cancelling on me.
Whichever way you consider the rainfall data, including by season, there is no decline.

There are no equivalent statistics for bushfires. As I explain in chapter 16 (page 226) of the new book: “There is no consistent Australia-wide methodology for determining the severity of fires, or even the amount of forest burned by either wildfires or through prescribed burning each summer.”

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Loren C. Wilson
October 12, 2020 6:40 am

And even if you blame climate change for the increased severity of the wildfires, you still have to manage the risk in the same way – conducting controlled burns. This is far cheaper and more effective than ruining your economy to make no difference in the climate.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
October 12, 2020 8:10 am

While I totally agree with your sentiment, let’s get the terminology right. Nobody blames climate change, these parasites of humanity blame PHONY climate change, and they don’t mind killing people and destroying property to get a vote.

…. and although they don’t know who exactly will be incinerated, it is premeditated.

October 12, 2020 6:55 am

Aboriginal forest and fire husbandry was very sophisticated. If the undergrowth was too heavy to chase game effectively, they set it on fire.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
October 12, 2020 1:58 pm

Going down the path of following indigenous fire management is a dead end.
Indigenous fire management is just “ thin out the bush”.

October 12, 2020 8:02 am

Most people today act and think like bush/forest/grass fires are a new phenomena and are completely unaware of history and the much greater fires of the past. It’s like Climate Change redux.

October 12, 2020 8:25 am

I note that actual rainforest burned in the last set of Australian fires…

Reply to  griff
October 12, 2020 8:57 am

Newsflash Griff just found out trees burn .. the Amazon rain forest burns pretty well too.

Reply to  LdB
October 12, 2020 9:23 am

…. yes, but only in the presence of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. Trees never used to burn before in Griff’s world.

Reply to  philincalifornia
October 12, 2020 9:45 am

It’s almost a stupid as the article in the guardian by some green activist dropkick that gave Australia a chuckle, they claimed Australian Rainforest shouldn’t burn because they should be too wet.

Reply to  griff
October 12, 2020 2:44 pm

Dry eucalyptus and fern trees tend to do that rather well, ignorant one.

One dry year is enough.

WEATHER.. not climate.

When are you going to grow up enough to be able to tell the difference?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
October 12, 2020 5:33 pm

Dry weather dries trees which then burn

Even though Aussie rainfall up over last century

$100 for that answer, cost escalates the dumber the question

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 12, 2020 8:54 pm

Poor little griff has basically ZERO clue when it comes to the Australian bush.

He knows his is thick as a brick, but he still likes to parade his ignorance for all to see.

Some sort of weird form of childish attention seeking, is my guess

David Roger Wells
October 12, 2020 11:58 am

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/inside-the-wreckage-of-californias-worst-wildfires-on-record-8jlrgvnxz?shareToken=ddf37e4dfaeca8a8eb4addbbe2a84b4c Prof Matthew Hurteau was the originator of the article Danny Fortson the Sunday Times journalist. I submitted a long screed to Fortson and Hurteau and Hurteau responded by calling me a whacko to which I responded thus. It is illustrative that the IPCC cite 1880 as the start point for their prevarication about climate and Co2. Wyatt Earp fought at the OK Corral in 1881. My guess is that temperature recording in 1881 was not dissimilar from trying to hit a barn door from ten feet with a Colt 45, next to impossible.

If you cannot refute the message shoot the messenger. If you believe Co2 at 0.04C controls the weather and climate then you need to enter yourself in the whacko folder. Most of the data I provided you with is from your own NOAA, Americas own weather satellites, NOAA, NASA and EU Metop-A,B,C state of the art weather satellites with multiple redundant AMSU’s capable of according to NASA – Not Me – measuring the temperature of the bulk atmosphere to 0.03C the best that we have. You need to be reminded that the IPCC start date for its prevarication was 1880 the gunfight at the O.K. Corral was in 1881. Are you really asking me to believe that in 1880 – IPCC start date for the climate deranged syndrome – the planet was capable of recording data to the degree of accuracy needed to measure the global average temperature when still today with the most advanced instrumentation the best we can do is two decimal places?? But in your mind you believe humanity is causing forest fires – which have always happened and will continue to happen – by emitting Co2 deliberately not nature doing so accidentally because of normal climatic behaviour. If Co2 did not exist there would be no trees to ignite in the first place. It is incomprehensible to me that you as a professor appear unable to understand and comprehend the significance of Oxygenic Photosynthesis which is wholly reliant on Co2 for your life. If Co2 was poison or pollutant then you would be dead because the concentration of Co2 in your lungs is 40,000 times more than the concentration in the atmosphere. You know you are playing with and manipulation peoples minds because you say carbon emissions to imply burning coal oil and gas emits black carbon which is a solid whereas Co2 is a tasteless odourless transparent colourless gas essential for all life on earth. You know you are deliberately indulging in epic psychological manipulation in order to impose a totalitarian regime upon ordinary folk but when your celebrity affiliates begin recognising that your intemperate beliefs a inflicting pain and misery on their sainted life styles and have to start admitting their own deceit and prevarication then the game is lost.

Let me get this right. You don’t believe data recorded by your own Interagency Fire Centre. You don’t believe the data recorded by your own “green” NOAA historical and pristine USCRN surface temperature networks. You don’t believe forest fires were worse a century ago when Co2 was more safe according to Gibbering Bill Nye’s 350ppm – 1926 303ppm – despite evidence to the contrary. More critically only 3.4% of all Co2 emissions are related to humanity activity including our consumption of fossil fuels, 96.6% are natural but it’s the 3.4% which causes climate change not the 96.6%, imagine that? 50% of all Co2 is absorbed, 25% disappears and maybe 25% remains in the atmosphere. Now California imports most of its oil when it has ample resources, it imports huge volumes of fossil fuelled electricity when the sun goes down to replace 13,000MW’s of solar capacity. This is just Chinese accounting writ large the manipulation of reality to impose the belief that California can declare itself green by manipulation, connivance and deliberately ignoring reality. The biggest lie is the belief that a state or country can by manipulating its emissions of Co2 can exercise control over its local climate and weather. It is this God like prevarication that is the most bone headed facet of greenwash virtual signalling, the belief that God is watching and provided you believe and make a concession to God he will on your behalf make a concession as regards weather and climate for California to specifically relieve it from the rigours and ravages of weather and climate. Really?

In America it was hotter in the 1930’s, in the UK according to the CET record maintained by the Met Office the UK has just returned to 1538 and Australia 1896. “Because timber harvesting and thinning have been banned for decades, thousands of scrawny trees grow on acreage that should have just a few hundred full-sized mature trees. As of 2017, tens of billions of scrawny trees mix with 6.3 billion dead trees in 11 Western states; state and federal forests in California alone had over 129 million dead trees. Those numbers have most assuredly skyrocketed since 2017, while steadily increasing dry brush and debris now provide even more tinder for super-heated conflagrations. Flames in average fires along the ground in managed forests might reach several feet in height and temperatures of 1,472° F (800° C), says Wildfire Today. But under conditions now found in western tinderboxes, flame heights can reach 165 feet (50 meters) or more, and crown fires can generate critter-roasting, soil-baking temperatures that exceed 2192 degrees F (1200 C). Wood bursts into flame at 572 F. Aluminum melts at 1220, silver at 1762, and gold at 1943 degrees F (1064 C)! 2192 degrees is hellish.” https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/09/20/climate-arson-and-other-wildfire-nonsense/

Since 2004 the planet has spent 5% trillion on wind turbines. In 2019 energy demand growth was 2.9%. Turbines have reached the BETZ limit and will remain 24% efficient at birth declining to 11% at 15 years just before they die. Therefore to generate 1% of demand growth a year every year with turbines the planet would need to spend $20 trillion a year every year just to generate 1% of demand growth. Continue this for 50 years and turbines would cover an area the size of Russia but make no progress towards the elimination of fossil fuels. So much for protection of the environment but once the abundance of oil is extinct then there are no turbines no solar panels and no lithium ion batteries because without coal oil and gas nothing is dug out and nothing moves. Your hypothetical relationship with reality will end up destroying what you appear to want to protect, the environment. But you cannot protect it whilst digging bloody big holes in it in the belief that your God like hypothesis is not hypothesis but fact. Dr Richard Feynman “if hypothesis is contradicted by observations then question hypothesis not observations”. You do exactly the opposite and when confronted with observed fact and data which compromises your chosen belief you do not even try to defend your ignorance but immediately stoop to insult denigrate and defame the messenger because you cannot refute the content of the message. How sad is that for a supposedly well educated human being.

Identify to me precisely how a 1 part in 10,000 rise in atmospheric Co2 over 200 years can start a forest fire? Identify to me precisely what part of the 1 part in 10,000 rise in atmospheric Co2 has raised the surface temperature of California by 0.2F/decade? Identify to me precisely why the pristine USCRN NOAA surface temperature network shows that America across the board is cooling not rising in surface temperature? Identify to me precisely how data six pairs of NASA NOAA and Metop-A,B,C weather satellites equipped with advanced microwave sounding units show no warming for 42 years related to America? Identify to me precisely how Co2 ignites a forest fire? Identify to me why PG&E paid out $27.5 billion in compensation in 2019 having admitted that it was their rickety poorly maintained naked overhead cables sparked in the normal high winds that prey on California every year which dry out grasslands undergrowth and turn fallen trees into tinder dry fuel?
o Galveston 1900 hurricane killed 10,000.
o November 1970 cyclone Bhola hit East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Bengal killing at least 500,000.
o Cyclone Eline, Mozambique 1999 killed 700. The storm lasted 29 days.
o Hurricane Katrina 2005 killed less than 2000.
o Hurricanes Irma and Harvey 2017 killed 69 after 12 year drought of land falling CAT3+ hurricanes.
o Houston was last hit 51 years before and Anguilla in 1923.
o Cyclone Idai killed 700.
o Category 4 or stronger Atlantic hurricane landfalls in the U.S. are a rare occurrence with only 27 documented since 1851, including Harvey and Irma. Three of those 27 landfalls were Category 5 hurricanes.
o Harvey’s Category 4 strike on Texas was the first to occur in the U.S. since Charley hammered southwest Florida in 2004. Before that, no landfalls of that strength had happened since Andrew’s destructive hit on South Florida as a Category 5 in 1992.
o Florida has experienced the most Category 4 or stronger landfalls with 13, while Texas is second with 7 landfalls of that intensity.
o IPCC AR5 (2014): “It is very likely that the mean rate of global averaged sea level rise was 1.7 (1.5 to 1.9) mm/year between 1901 and 2010…and 3.2 (2.8 to 3.6) mm/year between 1993 and 2010. It is likely that similarly high rates occurred between 1920 and 1950.” (Curry Sea-level paper, https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/special-report-sea-level-rise3.pdf)
o IPCC AR5 (2014): There is not enough evidence to support medium or high confidence of attribution of increasing trends to anthropogenic forcings as a result of observational uncertainties and variable results from region to region…we conclude consistent with SREX that there is low confidence in detection and attribution of changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century.
(Pielke Jr. testimony, https://republicansscience.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG115-SY-WState-RPielke-20170329.pdf)
o IPCC AR5 (2014): In summary there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the survey, sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.” Ibid.
o IPCC AR5 (2014): Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global cyclone frequency over the past century… No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes have been identified in the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.” Ibid

Models tuned to the Co2 hypothesis are not evidence of anything. How is it possible that when confronted with recorded data which shows forest fires were five times greater a century ago when Co2 was according to ice core data 303ppm where as today it is 414ppm and during the Cambrian it was 8,000ppm that you believe in atmospheric terms a ludicrously small rise in atmospheric Co2 would make forest fires worse when they were worse when Co2 was 303ppm.

My guess is that you have never ever looked at any data which might contradict your beliefs, beliefs which are fundamentally necessary to justify your employment. There is no evidential correlation between Co2 and the temperature of the lower troposphere where the greenhouse effect happens. NOAA surface data starts in 1895 the gunfight at the O.K. Corral was in 1881 at best only 5% of America had any surface temperature monitoring but the greenhouse effect is about the lower tropospheric temperature not surface temperature but base upon inadequate data that lacks accuracy and precision with no coverage of deserts lakes mountains forests oceans and poles worst case scenario California has warmed by a pathetic 1.11C and in your mind this imaginary number is responsible for forest fires despite the fact that in California they were five times worse with Co2 at 303ppm. Complete absolute bonkers. But the solution to a non problem is even worse. The environment that you appear to care about so much you are willing to see carpeted 100% with wind solar and battery farms when you know that these machines are man made from stuff dug out of the ground – the environment – that you care about carted across the planet consuming vast quantities of your hated planet burning fossil fuels. One day you must have sat down and thought I have a fantastic idea we need to save the planet so we will dig bloody big holes in the environment remote from California – which has to remain pristine – cart the raw finite commodities across the oceans using fossil fuels and dump them in California. Turn them into vast monolithic structures, dig more bloody big holes in the ground and fill those up with concrete and steel – more fossil fuels and Co2 – and then erect 200 metre high wind turbines consuming more raw finite commodities and petrochemical products in the process. And then export quartz Blue Gem coal and highly refined carbon made from Canada Oil Tar sands petroleum to China where they can use the carbon to heat the quartz to 1000C to make high purity silicone crystals which are again heating – using fossil fuels – to turn the silicone into a silicon loaf sawn into slices with 50% non recyclable waste and then import those toxic panels and cover that precious environment that needs to be saved from the ravages of Co2 with acres of solar panels. Cognitive dissonance is endemic within the green Alice in Wonderland utopian Disney World fantasy, you imagined hypothetically how the planet could be saved ignoring the fact that your strategy demanded the total devastation of the environment that you thought needed to be protected from Co2. When without Co2 there would be no environment and no life on earth. How do you manage to breathe?

Reply to  David Roger Wells
October 13, 2020 2:04 am

Hi there David, actually the data shows that forest were more frequent & not greater in the sense of being more intense. Being greater in number, there was less fuel to feed fires to intense levels. Forest fires being more frequent were less intense. There is no evidence of intense bushfires in Australia pre whites when earth core samples & carbon ring evidence shows Indigenous Australians burnt off regularly.

Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 13, 2020 4:06 am

OOps typo- first line should read “the data shows that forest fires were more frequent”…

October 12, 2020 1:47 pm

“Climate change” is being used by legions of bureaucrats, academics and politicians all around the world to let them off the hook for their incompetent, negligent failures within their portfolios to apply the basic, well-proven bushfire mitigation measures that minimize loss of life, property and environments.

And as usual, it is the dullards in the mainstream media who can’t see this happening, and continue to slavishly report the bullsh1t put out about bushfire causes by the guilty-party academics, bureaucrats and politicians.

Reply to  Mr.
October 13, 2020 3:51 am

Big fires have enabled big empires & big careers for those at the top who manage them. Pity that the lives of some are considered so much less valuable than the lives of others.

October 12, 2020 2:05 pm

Australia is a big country
We have different types of Forrest’s which include different types of rainforest.
Some burn, some don’t
“Australia has many types of rainforest, varying with rainfall and latitude. Tropical and subtropical rainforests are found in northern and eastern Australia in wet coastal areas. Warm-temperate rainforests grow in New South Wales and Victoria, and cool-temperate rainforests are found in Victoria and Tasmania and in small areas at high altitude in New South Wales and Queensland. Dry rainforests occur in pockets protected from frequent fire in sub-coastal and inland areas of northern and eastern Australia and northern Western Australia. Monsoon rainforests occur in northern Australia in seasonally dry coastal and sub-coastal regions”

Stan Sexton
October 12, 2020 3:20 pm

Climate Change and Poor Forest Management may explain the Severity of the Fires But not the frequency. Most fires are man-made. The U.S. Forest Service had a Conference on PYROTERRORISM. Look that up on Google. But it’s not PC to mention it on the media. It might scare the populace. Plans for making remote-controlled incendiary devices are on the internet. The MSM should warn the public to look out for suspicious activity in the WildLands.

Reply to  Stan Sexton
October 14, 2020 6:54 am

Hi Stan, in Australia the evidence is that lightning starts most firestorms. Of course there are arsonists too & the authorities self righteously toot their horns about them, while this same hierarchy’s lucrative operations make fires worse. There’s big money in big fires for this paid hierarchy. Sometimes a thrown cigarette or sparks from a train etc start bad fires too, but in the main in Oz it’s lightning. Once a firestorm gets going it will generate embers, lightning & make conditions drier, hotter & windier so the region becomes more conducive to more firestorms. Sometimes 100 or so burn at once. The US gets terrible firestorms too & has high fuel loads, so the terrorism excuse from the US hierarchy profiting from bad fires convinces me of nothing.

Geoff Sherrington
October 12, 2020 6:23 pm

Seeking references to scientific descriptions of Australian fire management documented by scientists in years 1770 to 1900.
There must be some recorded basis for attributions to Aborigines of wise, managed, purposeful fire practices, as opposed to white person academic descriptions of what they think the Aborigines knew and did, with results.

Looking for references to fire management in Australia years 1770 to 1900, which document the methods attributed to Aborigines that are currently often quoted as if the contain ancient wisdom.
Present impression is that post-1900, white academics wrote their own accounts of what they thought Aborigines did and for what reasons. Further, allege that it is scientifically improbable that these academic accounts are accurate and of any useful purpose for present fire management, because it is not possible to show Aboriginal authenticity over hundreds of past disconnected tribes in a huge range of geographic and foodstuff types. Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 12, 2020 11:44 pm


Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2020 3:55 am

Please read my PhD – “Smokescreen: Black/White/Male/Female Bravery & SE Australian Bushfires” it’s a mere tip of the iceberg as far as research based on large bodies of evidence of Indigenous cool burning.

October 12, 2020 6:57 pm

Anyone who imagines that aboriginals did not burn for fire-protection has not spent much time living and working in a million acres of tinder-dry country… with no fire protection or ability to “get out of Dodge” other than their own feet. Much is made of the aboriginals’ lack of property, but we should not assume that the lives of their families and communities were any less important to them, than ours are to us. Also, consider the consequences of having 95% of the animals in your hunting area killed by fire. In warm weather they are all rotten in two days and you are facing severe shortage for years.

As for the argument that rainforest is less prone to fire, that depends on the assumption that all years are average years. In reality, we have (and always have had) severe droughts in which everything is dry enough to burn.

Reply to  PeterW
October 12, 2020 11:51 pm

That’s not the point.
The claim is that the aboriginals sustainably managed the ecosystem through burning and we can learn from their methods.
This is just not true.

Reply to  Waza
October 13, 2020 4:00 am

Please read my PhD “Smokescreen: Black/White/Male/Female Bravery & SE Australian Bushfires” giving a huge body of evidence that it is conclusive that the First Nation sustainably managed & continues to sustainably manage ecosystems through cool burning. To argue otherwise is racist as you have not even bothered to read up on the subject – perhaps there is a payoff for this unscientific bias?

Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 13, 2020 4:38 am

You sound like Antifa

Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 13, 2020 4:47 am

I just read the summary of your suggested PhD paper.
Sorry can’t read any more
I’m just an inferior evil white male.

M Seward
Reply to  Waza
October 13, 2020 5:28 am

Sorry Waza, but that is exactly what they did. They burned the country to create a more emenable landscape, suited to their huntiung and gatheringm creating areas of trees adjacent open areas with a variety of plant types that gave them and the anmials shelter and food. The regular buring also kept fuel loads low which mitigated fire risk. They did not just get in a tizzy when there was a dry year and try to play catch up in fuel reduction rather they stayed ahead of the game on all fronts, fire risk management and managing an environment which optimised their hunting and gathering.

Maybe you are just a dumb, ‘white’ racist.

Reply to  M Seward
October 13, 2020 6:20 am

M Seward
I apologise for not making my self clear.
I do not disagree with the concept that aborigines burnt the bush the way you describe.
Probably the vast majority of Australians don’t disagree with you.
BUT their burning did not and does not meet the high standards required by the environmentalists. That is no change to the ecosystem.

I am willing to accept any evidence you provide to prove me wrong.
But it is my understanding that most traditional hunter gatherer tribes ( including Australian aborigines) did not count or measure. They could not know that their incremental burns incrementally changed the flora species mix in any particular environment. I don’t have an issue with this, the environmentalists do.
(A similar theory applies to mega fauna – early humans annually killed slightly more than the species bred, and eventually over many human generations the species became extinct, without them even being aware of the gradual decline)

M Seward
Reply to  Waza
October 13, 2020 5:45 pm

Ok, fair enough and I agree that the greeny fundamentalists have their darwinian take on things except that apparently humans are somehow non darwinian but just evil.

The facts are that if we left the bush entirely to nature then there would be regular ‘catastrophic’ fire events that wouls all but obliterate ceratian species in certain areas including a lot of humans. Reconciling greeny darwinianism with humans making their lived environment safer is not easy but my darwinian instincts favour the latter. Maybe that’s just too nuanced for the greenies.

That said, adapting the environment to suit human preferences is pretty normal across the planet and it seems to be a pretty natural thing for a sentient species to do. On what basis does being sentient disqualify one from any right to modify the environment? Were the Romans evil to build roads and aqueducts or plough fields after clearing the trees etc? The Chinese for terracing hillsides to grow rice?

It is one thingto modify the environment sensitively and minimise adverse impacts and another to go about it recklessly and counterproductively. European settlers to Australia came to a land modified over many millenia by the Aborigines and began their own modifications to suit grazing and cropping as well as transport etc. The greenies want to shut down ongoing maintenance of the bush and let it return to a human unfriendly, high fire risk state. To what end? We all go and live in the inner city and sip cafe latte and descend into groupthinktalk. Sounds like some sorrt of ‘end of days’ death wish to me.

Reply to  M Seward
October 14, 2020 6:26 am

Y0 dude!!!

Reply to  Waza
October 13, 2020 11:33 pm

There is no evidence the First Nation wiped out the now gone megafauna – the FN did not have the technology to do so – it was after the extinction that the FN developed spearheads capable of penetrating the extinct megafauna’s hides. There is evidence that the FN ate megafauna eggs & scavenged their dead bodies but none that they were capable of killing them. It was the more cumbersome megafauna that died out as Gondwanaland dried & continents began to seperate & move away from each other. Being marsupials (some the size of a hatchback car) & large reptiles (some 30cm in diameter) & carnivorous flightless birds, they needed a lot of food & water. They lacked the mobility to survive tougher conditions the continental shifts delivered. Megafaunal like the emu & the kangaroo survived because they were more mobile & non carnivores.

M Seward
Reply to  Waza
October 14, 2020 1:00 am


As far as I can see “the aboriginals sustainably managed the ecosystem through burning and we can learn from their methods.” i squite true its just that it was in significant part a different ecosystem than woyld naturally occur on this continent. The issue then becomes whther it is moral/sustainable/good/bad/evil to modify theenvironment to suit the species doing the modification. If the Aboriginal system maintained a stable, balanced system then is that all that bad just because it was not the one prone to massive fires as weathar pattern oscillations ( El Nino, La Nina, Indian and Southern Ocean oscillations etc) and undergrowth created huge fuel loads?

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  PeterW
October 13, 2020 12:53 am

As one who has helped with some burns, I can verify that some Aborigines used fire, frequently in some places.
I am asking for documentation that these efforts over the centuries were recorded in a scientific manner, adequate to support a claim that they were thinking based on experience as opposed to the day-to-day opportunism of doing what anyone with a source of fire and a need to hunt for food would do, moderated as required by such factors as having no shoes to walk them through hot embers in a hurry (if that was needed).
It is easier to envisage academic people and onlookers writing their own thoughts about what the locals were doing. Do we have ANY original source material that validates claims of the type that we should now learn from accumulated tribal wisdom and so benefit from better fire management?

Reply to  PeterW
October 13, 2020 2:33 am

Peter and Geoff
It is important to understand the concept of tolerable fire interval TFI.
Each species or habitat has it’s own Max TFI, min TFI for mild fire and min TFI for severe fire.
TFI vary from a habitat that can survive a mild fire every 2 years to a habitat that can only handle a fire every 80 years.
Different frequencies of fires will forever change the mix of species.
Aborigines did not count.
While aborigines might have extensive knowledge of the land, they were nevertheless unknowingly changing the mix of species.
The problem of trying to address TFI is at the forefront of the reluctance of the greenies to carry out fuel reduction burns.

Reply to  Waza
October 13, 2020 3:27 am

There is no evidence the First Nation does not understand how to cool burn – TFI is a made up term that is overwhelmingly contradicted by the massive body of evidence that the progressive abandonment of Indigenous cool burning progressively caused more apocalyptic fires. How is TFI even relevant in the light of the massive evidence of TFI theory’s apocalyptic failure?

Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 13, 2020 4:16 am

TFI is not my term or my theory
It is the theory of the environmentalists within the Victorian government to justify not having to carry out fuel reduction burning of 5% of the forests annually as per the 2009 royal commission recommendation.
It is true that aborigines have successfully burned forests for generations but as each generation went by this burning would have incrementally changed the mix of Forrest species.
I don’t have a problem with this, but the greenies do.
They will play along for a while, but have no intention of allowing regular burning by aboriginal methods or current methods.

Reply to  Waza
October 13, 2020 12:54 pm

I’m going to suggest that aboriginals used fire in ways similar to tgat in which a modern farmer uses chemical herbicides. That is, the intent is not merely to remove ,arterial from the landscape, but with the *intention* of altering the species mix, via reduction of seed-set in species susceptible to this tactic. “Counting” is not required for this tactic, only a recognition that if I do X, then Y will follow in succeeding years.

Nor is it about altering the vegetative landscape “forever “ . Any astute observer will understand that species suppressed over a period, tend to recover when the tactic that led to that suppression, is discontinued…… which is why we observe far more low-mid level scrub in forests than the early explorers recorded. Aboriginal burning suppressed those species, rather than removing them.

October 12, 2020 9:55 pm

Problem with rainfall is even though a lot of rain falls, it will fall less over microclimates where severe bushfires reduce vegetation. To illustrate, in the last decades intense fires killed 1000s of sq km of ash forests in inland alpine regions. These dead forests were rainmakers for these inland regions which subsequently suffered drought. No one is calling attention to the links between intense fires & inland drought in knowledge fields depending on global warming as a core fundamental ie climatology, ecology & environmental science. Weather is also dependent on the Indian Ocean dipole, el Ninos & la Ninas. Weather is a very complex system, but if you reduce forest you will produce more drought. Hence the green push to make more rain by planting more trees, but without managing fuel loads. Hmmm… Nor has anyone in the climate industry looked at how much intense fires heat oceans to affect the Indian Ocean & other dipoles which are theoretically considered predictors of drought & rainfall. When Australia’s side of the Indian Ocean dipole is warmer we should get more rain according to their theory. When India’s side of the ocean is warmer we are supposed to get drought. This weather is supposed to be the predictor for inland regions’s rain. Why isn’t the inland drought over then? Why do people whose careers & reputations are in the climate change industry insist that fossil fuels will affect the dipole, el Nino & la Nina when they swing backwards & forwards?. .. Hmmm…

Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 13, 2020 1:05 pm

Christine…. I must challenge that theory.

1. It is arguing that rainfall is generated and-or controlled by microclimates when the mechanisms that cause rain are frequently operating at a greater distance (both vertically and horizontally) from those microclimates, than the microclimates are from each other.

2. If the argument was correct, then we would never see the end to droughts, or wet periods…. because the effect on each would be self-reinforcing.

3. The period cited in your Tasmanian example is far too short to provide a valid proof of the concept, being within normal climate variability, and lacks repetition. Coincidence does not equal proof.

4. (Points in no particular order) There is strong evidence of pre-European droughts of considerable intensity and duration. Evidence includes coral cores, ice cores, sedimentary cores and tree rings as well as aboriginal oral history.

Reply to  PeterW
October 13, 2020 1:10 pm

I will also add that “when a lot of rain falls” – to use your own words – even if there was some degree of variation according to vegetation , vegetation recovers…. therefore the claimed variation must be of limited duration as the theory posits tgat rain would increase as the vegetation recovers.

The effect of rainfall utilisation due to soil erosion after several fires is likely to be a greater factor.

Reply to  PeterW
October 14, 2020 6:36 am

Ha ha, I know that weather/climate is a very complex system & that microclimate is not the only factor. Never said microclimates are the only factor. Microclimates are a factor however. Please don’t put words I never said in my mouth & then argue with them -it’s a waste of time. Not talking about the Tasmanian example specifically either although you say I am – I’m talking about dead ash forests in general. This is called a large body of repetitive evidence not coincidence. Never mentioned “Tasmanian” at any point. Please don’t make up stuff to argue with me it’s boring because it’s pointless.

Of course there’s evidence of pre-white drought – never said there wasn’t. Once again please don’t put words in my mouth & then argue with what I’ve never said, its pointless.

Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2020 12:54 am

As one who has helped with some burns, I can verify that some Aborigines used fire, frequently in some places.
I am asking for documentation that these efforts over the centuries were recorded in a scientific manner, adequate to support a claim that they were thinking based on experience as opposed to the day-to-day opportunism of doing what anyone with a source of fire and a need to hunt for food would do, moderated as required by such factors as having no shoes to walk them through hot embers in a hurry (if that was needed).
It is easier to envisage academic people and onlookers writing their own thoughts about what the locals were doing. Do we have ANY original source material that validates claims of the type that we should now learn from accumulated tribal wisdom and so benefit from better fire management?

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2020 2:21 am


As far as I am aware, the primary source evidence that we have are the writings of early explorers and settler – both of aboriginal fire use and the nature of the landscape. As usual with such sources, interpretation is required, but they are strong evidence that aboriginal burnt a lot.

I am sceptical of some claims, as there has been a strong tendency amongst more modern writers to romanticise pre-European Australia as some kind of aboriginal Eden. I consider it far more reasonable to assume that aboriginals were just as practical as we are – probably more so as they lacked many of the resources that we possess. Therefore, I ask myself what would matter to such people in their everyday lives.

I have lived for fifty-plus years in a rural environment, and I know the value of fire-safety. I also know what it is like to hunt and travel in dense scrub and vegetation….. and what it is like to walk through waist-high spear-grass. Imagine doing that with no more protection than a possum-fur public tassel?

This is not primary-source material, but it is probably more valuable than folk-tales about spirit-ancestors.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2020 3:44 am

Yes there is a huge body of evidence the First Nation cool burnt & still cool burns – it was generally accepted historically that these were necessary to prevent one’s incineration – it was once considered rather ludicrous that a scientific team would be necessary to document it – is this what you’re asking or are you asking if historical evidence has been scientifically documented? Please read up on the subject as there is a truckload of documented evidence this was the case. There is my PhD Smokescreen: Black/White/Male/Female Bravery & SE Australian bushfires. The chapters on Indigenous cool burning include interviews with Indigenous old timers; quotes of numerous early white historical documents describing same & lots of papers & several books on the subject – James Kohen being one scientist whose name springs to mind. Also recent evidence of carbon rings in trees & carbon layers in earth core samples show regular Indigenous cool burning. There is no evidence of intense fires pre-whites in earth core samples or tree rings in the last few millennia.

Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 13, 2020 1:17 pm

Christine…. That is my understanding, which is why the existence of severe pre-settlement droughts over a period with consistent low-level burning and no intense fires, tends to disprove the causal relationship between fires and lack of rain.

Low-intensity burning will create variability in vegetation across the landscape as vegetation cures at differing rates across the landscape according to slope, aspect, elevation, soil-type etc. That is a fire-effect, not a rainfall effect.

Reply to  PeterW.
October 13, 2020 10:19 pm

Hi there Peter W, can you please give the evidence showing the link between severe drought & pre-white Indigenous burning? Also can you please give specifics? What regions & vegetation did the burning/severe drought apply to? When did this occur? How is the link proven? Are you referring to the movement of land masses away from each other when it got progressively drier as land masses separated ie Australia from its neighbours with the end of Gandwanaland?

Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 14, 2020 4:12 am

My awareness is from media articles. Proxies used in the reported research were Brain Coral cores, sediment cores (both relating to the east coast of Aust), tree rings (Western Victoria) and more recently, Antarctic ice cores reflecting major weather patterns and reported on WUWT. Both tree and coral cores reflect the last 2-3000 years, so continental drift is unlikely to be much of a factor.

Aboriginal history of which I am aware.
1. Drought on the upper Hawkesbury so severe that the river ceased to flow and tribes had to congregate on one remaining freshwater source. Supposedly this congregation so depleted what little local food remained that many died.
2. The Billabong Creek – between the Murray and Murrumbidgee – which has never been completely dry since European settlement, although some sections required digging into the sandy bed to obtain water during the Federation drought, was described as “unreliable” to earliest settlers by local aboriginals.
3. Aboriginals in the Riverina describing to early Europeans a time when their ancestors were forced to walk overland to the Murray when the Murrumbidgee dried up, a distance of over 100km with no intermediate water sources. Many old people and children died enroute.

I don’t put a lot of weight on oral history – humans have a tendency to make up stories – but when it correlates with other sources and with similar research in the Western USA , it is more plausible.

Reply to  PeterW
October 14, 2020 6:41 am

Once again, can you please give the evidence showing cool burning causes drought? You’ve just talked about evidence of drought. I’ve never said Australia did not get drought pre-whites. Of course it did.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 13, 2020 5:50 pm

Thank you Christine.
I am not arguing that fires have been used for thousands of years, or that they might have been mostly small, cool fires. I am asking for evidence that allows the type of statement summarised here as “We need to learn from, and take modern day advice from, the aborigine people who developed fire management in such a way as to minimise the damage that large burns can cause.”
Basically, for argument, take aborigines out of the equation. Would that make any difference to the way we manage today, or is modern logic so immature that we have to lean on and learn from people who had next to no ways to document the knowledge of their forebears in a durablr manner?
Christine, I spent a fair slice of my career to ensure that we mineral explorers and miners would continue to have reasonable access to land. The biggest talking point by far came from the falsification of evidence and invention of “new” evidence by academics in their ignorance seeking to stop us with aboriginal issues. You might not understand the depth of deception. Consider a Commissioner of Inquiry rejecting a sound and picture movie of some aborigines expressing their understanding of a prickly matter, made by a senior professional Anthropologist we engaged, because the Commissioner could not be certain that we had not falsified the movie to misrepresent what had been clearly spoken. People desperate to push romantic ideals are capable of turning into strange, untrustworthy characters. The pursuit of the Noble Savage sentiment is one such ideal.
So, do we have any early records that do not reflect this type of influence? Can you narrow down the reading list to a couple most relevant and least subject to interpretative procedures? Thanks. Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2020 10:32 pm

Hi there is no evidence of subjectivity in the findings – when I said there is a huge body of evidence showing First Nation cool burning, I said it because once there is a huge body of evidence, then it is considered conclusive. Over time more evidence can come to light to further explain or unpack earlier findings, which still remain the same. There is no evidence of an axe to grind with the cool burning no intense fires finding, this is quite simply how the raw data told a story through its emergent themes. I suggest James Kohen’s book on the subject as a starting point or you can have a look at my PhD Smokescreen: Black/White/Male/Female Bravery & SE Australian bushfires. Smokescreen is freely available free of charge online. If you google James Kohen “Aboriginal Environmental Impacts” & borrow a copy, it gives an excellent account of the data. My thesis & Kohen & many others report there is a large body of early explorers’ accounts describing same, including Mitchell who stated that the firestick farmers explained to him that the bush is dangerous if not cool burnt.

Reply to  Dr Christine Finlay
October 13, 2020 10:41 pm

PS no one describes the First Nation as noble savages in the cool burning research. These researchers tell it the way it was. Nobility does not come into it. At the time of the early explorers’ description of Indigenous Australians, in fact they were depicted as far from noble – & – as most descriptions were so horribly denigrating I refrain from repeating them here. Mitchell was a rare exception who did not denigrate, but nowhere does he give emotional or poetic passages of nobility.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2020 10:55 pm

PPS – yes research fraud is quite common – particularly when an organisation hires a reputed expert for testimony in court cases. The expert on each opposing side usually interprets the same subject matter differently to favour their paymaster. However with the Indigenous cool burning research, there was no paymaster; &as the evidence is huge, it is conclusive that this is what the First Nation did & continues to do. The reason for the research was to fill a knowledge gap, as valid research should be, & a contribution to knowledge that should be known. It has cost me personally & others who have gone against paid bushfire hierarchy & other bodies responsible. Believe me it cost me & others enormously to stick to the truth as fundamentally I do not think some lives should be more valuable than others.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2020 11:04 pm

I agree.
Good summary of my position.

October 13, 2020 1:22 pm

One way or another, I simply get my kicks watching people get angry when you say we need to burn more (which is bad for an environmentalist, who are all usually left wing) but then add in it’s being respectful to the land as our beloved Aboriginal brothers and sisters knew 60,000 years ago.

They aren’t sure how to respond when you tack on the last bit. You can see the gears whirring.

I couldn’t care less what colour of what person holds the match. Apparently though CO2 is only generated from rural fire brigade burning, magical indigenous flame holds none of that colonial, oppressive, gas. Who knew?

I haven’t had someone die from an embolism yet from the mental gymnastics, but I’m working on my delivery and I reckon I’m not far away.

Reply to  Voltron
October 13, 2020 11:16 pm

You only get short term pleasure.
Sadly based on my experience The government environmentalists will follow the following steps
1. Squirm a bit, but, but ,but.
2. Agree aboriginal burning has some merit. Maybe even claim they agreed all along.
3. Accept that it should be included in any formal forest ( not fire) management strategy.
4. Highlight THEY are the best group to manage this now important component.
5. Claim significant funds to consult, teach, learn and manage the aboriginal burning.
6. Only actually carry it out on the smallest scale.

Reply to  Waza
October 13, 2020 11:22 pm

YES, I’m not holding my breath for change to cool burning enough to prevent the firestorm crisis. There’s huge money in bad fires for the paid hierarchies responsible for fire management. AND if apocalyptic fires disappear with cool burning, careers & reputations will tumble.

October 16, 2020 6:47 pm

The book needs to incorporate land tenure changes since the 1980s-1990s in regional forest in eastern Australia. Much land formerly logged and thinned is now in Conservation, this increases wildfires.

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