Fuel load in the Aussie bush; a tinderbox waiting for a spark. The above photo was taken a few minutes drive from my house. Author Eric Worrall

Aussie Bushfire Madness: Fuel Load Not an Issue, All Climate Change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Reducing available fuel seems and obvious strategy for fire risk management. But according to the CSIRO, the real culprit is climate change.

CSIRO study proves climate change driving Australia’s 800% boom in bushfires

By Mike Foley
November 26, 2021 — 9.00pm

Climate change is the dominant factor causing the increased size of bushfires in Australia’s forests, according to a landmark study that found the average annual area burned had grown by 800 per cent in the past 32 years.

The peer-reviewed research by the national science agency, CSIRO — published in the prestigious science journal, Nature — reveals evidence showing changes in weather due to global warming were the driving force behind the boom in Australia’s bushfires.

Lead author and CSIRO chief climate research scientist Pep Canadell said the study established the correlation between the Forest Fire Danger Index – which measures weather-related vegetation dryness, air temperature, wind speed and humidity – and the rise in area of forest burned since the 1930s.

“It’s so tight, it’s so strong that clearly when we have these big fire events, they’re run by the climate and the weather,” Dr Canadell said.

The weather system that drove a blast furnace’s worth of westerly wind across NSW and Victoria’s forests, sparking some of the worst fires of the Black Summer in 2019-20, will be up to four times more likely to occur under forecast levels of global warming.

Last year, the bushfire royal commission reported fuel-load management through hazard reduction burning “may have no appreciable effect under extreme conditions” that typically cause loss of life and property.

The CSIRO findings bolster that conclusion and call into question calls for native forest logging to be used as a bushfire management tool.

This is happening regardless of anything that we might or might not do to try to stop the fires,” Dr Canadell said.

Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/csiro-study-proves-climate-change-driving-australia-s-800-percent-boom-in-bushfires-20211126-p59cgr.html

Do fuel reduction burns work?

There is significant evidence in Australia that the big problem with fuel reduction burns is they aren’t happening frequently enough.

From a fire services report written in 2015, Overview of Prescribed Burning in Australasia;

Nevertheless, the lowered incidence and intensity of bushfires in areas that have been subject to extensive prescribed burning is compelling in south western WA and in the tropical savannah, but less so elsewhere.

Its effectiveness in temperate southern Australia appears to be most significant if undertaken at a rate which maintains at least 25% of land area with fuels younger than or equal to five years old. This condition is currently not achieved in any of the southern states.

There is also debate about the value of prescribed burning in improving the controllability of bushfires burning under extreme fire danger conditions, when weather appears to become the main driver of fire spread and extent. While the majority view amongst fire researchers is that low fuel levels have little effect on directly improving bushfire controllability under such conditions, reduced fuel levels can provide indirect benefits by freeing-up suppression forces and improving asset protection opportunities. Further, the mapping of burn severity after recent major bushfires has shown that low fuels from previous burning can significantly reduce the damage to a range of environmental values under extreme conditions, particularly in comparison to the damage incurred in forests with heavier fuel loads.

As the vast majority of bushfires burn under less than extreme conditions, it seems that most can be mitigated to some degree by lighter fuels derived from prescribed burning. However, predicting or empirically measuring this degree of mitigation is complex due to a range of factors including the variability of vegetation types and ages, the time since burning, the effectiveness of the burn in reducing fuel loads, and the weather conditions driving the bushfire.

The strategy of trying to exclude fire from the hottest period of the year has reduced its incidence, but facilitated a situation whereby hot summer bushfires, when they inevitably do occur, can be far more damaging than they ever were – both in environmental and human terms.

This situation sees community pressure to take steps that sees the inevitable bushfire impacts both mitigated and minimised. A key element in any associated strategy is the managed use, in ecosystems where it is appropriate, of cool burning (or prescribed burning) to reduce the fuels available for unplanned summer bushfires.

Concurrently however, prescribed burning in southern Australia has become increasingly difficult to conduct on a significant scale due to a range of social and demographic factors and, over time, flammable fuels have continued to built-up as fuel loads have grown due to lengthy intervals between burns.

International bushfire historian and analyst Stephen Pyne (2006, Part Three, pp. 67 – 106) believes this has been exacerbated by Australian State governments, particularly since the 1970s, responding to perceived community concerns, centred largely but not exclusively in urban-based electorates, and excluding economic uses from many public lands. The redesignation, for example, of many areas of State forest as National Parks has left management agencies largely dependent on the ‘public purse’ to finance their management activities.

Read more: https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/media/4893/overview-of-prescribed-burning-in-australasia.pdf

Australian forest want to burn. The seeds of many species of the dominant eucalyptus trees absolutely need fire to germinate, they have evolved to use fire to clear away the competition. Even when dry and dead, eucalyptus leaves and wood contains millions of microscopic pores filled with highly flammable Eucalyptus oil. Green eucalyptus leaves and small branches quite happily burn when ignited, thanks to the oil content. When Eucalyptus leaves and branches fall, which happens continuously thanks to ubiquitous wood boring insects, they naturally pile themselves into well aerated piles of kindling, ready to be ignited by the slightest spark.

I believe the apparent suggestion that fuel reduction burns don’t work is absurd. Eucalyptus forests always catch fire in the end, there is nothing we can do to prevent Australian woodlands from burning. If humans don’t burn off the accumulated fuel load, nature takes care of it for us, through lightning strikes or spontaneous combustion. All we can hope to do, through deliberate burnoffs, is control the timing and limit the damage.

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Enthalpy
November 27, 2021 10:18 am

Even a quick review on Wikipedia would show restricting the review period to 32 years would hide the decline in bushfire extent in Australia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_major_bushfires_in_Australia

To bed B
Reply to  Enthalpy
November 27, 2021 10:37 am

In the link, The area burnt in 2020 was unusually small (,and 2019 was average). This is because grass fires lit by lightening in arid regions burn the greatest amount by far. The catastrophe east of the dividing range is what was unusually large.

And yet, the “experts” found that the vast majority of acerage burnt was started by lightening, so the fires east of the Dividing Range were not mostly started by humans. You kind of realise, then, that The Science is driven by politics.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Enthalpy
November 27, 2021 11:37 am

Yeah, I did wonder about the odd study length of 32 years. Additionally, 30 years is the arbitrary “climate period” from the CliSciFi mental masturbators. Anything within that period can’t be “climate change.”

Is the warming in Australia driven by max or min temperature trends? Also, since the weather patterns dictate fire weather, do independent studies show those patterns changing on decadal timescales. A degree or so change in Australia’s temperature won’t have any impact on fire weather events.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave Fair
Waza
Reply to  Enthalpy
November 27, 2021 12:36 pm

One the the worst bushfires in Australian history was Ash Wednesday in 1983 – almost 39 years ago.
The Ash Wednesday Fire was not about area burnt, but loss of life and homes destroyed.

i recently visited the peri-urban Belgrave, Emerald and Cockatoo areas. The valleys are heavily overgrown. Although this region is small, I regard it as being one of the highest risk bushfires areas in the entire world.

This region and other similar regions need immediate and ongoing strategic fuel reduction or a tragic high casualty disaster will inevitably occur.

Mark Amey
Reply to  Waza
November 27, 2021 2:56 pm

1983 is within living memory for us old blokes. I’m not sure why researchers adhere to 30, or in this case, 32 years, except to present their data in a favourable light.

One of Australia’s worst fires was in 1851, probably discounted because there were no electronic thermometers and computers to record data: http://romseyaustralia.com/fire1851.html

Hasbeen
Reply to  Mark Amey
November 27, 2021 6:50 pm

The answer to this garbage is simple. Just ask where the big fires were found.

Was it in the hotter drier inland areas, or was it in the cooler wetter coastal areas?

Surely if it is global warming causing these fires they would be in the hotter parts of the country. But no, it is in the cooler near coastal areas, where heavier rainfall encourages heavier growth, & greater fuel.

Mark Amey
Reply to  Hasbeen
November 27, 2021 9:23 pm

Absolutely!

Dr Ken Pollock
Reply to  Waza
November 28, 2021 4:07 am

Waza, I agree with you. I filmed the aftermath of the ’83 fires for BBC TV Farming programme in the Warrnambool area of Victoria. I came away with two strong impressions: 1. The Australians were used to this sort of disaster (75 people killed and many thousands of livestock burnt to death) and were incredibly resilient. Hugely impressive. 2. The Greens had effectively put an end to preventative burning and that had had a bit effect on the severity of resulting fires. Can’t vouch for the truth of the latter, but it was the strong belief of those who had lost everything in the fires…

John
Reply to  Waza
November 28, 2021 5:51 pm

Living in New Zealand the skys were red and the ash was landing on us

I remember it vividly – and that was over 2000km to the east

Ed Fox
November 27, 2021 10:26 am

Why something is happening is how academics tackle a problem. They study it to death in the belief this will kill the problem.

Thomas Gasloli
November 27, 2021 10:44 am

Of course the government would blame “climate change” rather than their bad land management. Now instead of spending appropriate funds on land management they can funnel it to cronies as “green” subsidies. It is a win-win. 😁

SxyxS
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
November 27, 2021 12:10 pm

What else should they do.It’s part of the plan.

They change the laws(insert here any environmental dogooder reason ,no matter how destructive > …….) to increase the fuel load so they get bigger fires they then blame on AGW.
Just like the zombie in the USA who destroys the countries energy supply and then begs the OPEC to increase oil production.

Waza
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
November 27, 2021 12:51 pm

Is it government or Governments?
Here in Victoria Australia we have

  1. 79 local governments
  2. the State Government
  3. the Federal Government
  4. multiple state and federal departments

each section of government may have staff skilled and willing enough to develop and carry out proper fire reduction strategies BUT they are hampered by environmentalists within their own departments.

For goodness sake the DEpartment of Environment, Land and Planning, DELWP has sub departments for Fire Reduction and Climate Change in the one organisation

Dennis
Reply to  Waza
November 27, 2021 4:19 pm

Fire and bushfire fighting and land management is the responsibility of State Governments and Local Government Councils in Australia. Except when on Commonwealth lands.

Most National Parks are former State Forests and National Parks & Wildlife Services are funded by State Governments with some grants from the Federal Government.

State Government Budgets fund State Emergency Services and services include Rural Fire Service in NSW and whatever they are called in other States. And with Federal grants paid to State Governments for specific purposes like Rural Fire Service.

DipChip
November 27, 2021 10:46 am

Did Mike go on that Snipe Hunt to Glasgow. It seems they all came back with empty trophy bags. How long will all of his comrades keep wasting their Governments money on the annual fools errand to enhance A carefully planed Narrative?

Tom Halla
November 27, 2021 10:49 am

Parts of Australia have the same Mediterranean rain pattern as California, and the same fire related flora. The common notion that “just let nature take it’s course, because it is natural, and therefore good” seems common among some greens in both places.
This rather ignores that the indigenous population in both countries actively managed the landscape with fire, and had been doing so since the terrain settled down from the last Ice Age.

Kalsel3294(@kalsel3294)
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 27, 2021 3:01 pm

Whilst much is made of the “benefits” of indigenous land management by fire, I suspect one of the major benefits would be to light fires to provide themselves with an already burnt refuge should a wildfire occur, their survival depended on it. Bad luck for anyone downwind in the path of the fire they did light.

Dennis
Reply to  Kalsel3294
November 27, 2021 4:23 pm

The Australian Aborigines has a seasonal burning tradition that they developed during 65,000 years living here, the land of droughts and flooding rains from climate change beginning about 130,000 years ago resulting in drier and hotter weather conditions.

They burn in patches, each patch burnt every few years resulting in fire breaks to stop wildfires from developing. And they only burn when seasonal weather conditions are favourable.

spangled drongo
Reply to  Dennis
November 27, 2021 5:37 pm

What no one ever tells you about is that Australian Aborigines, who had no clothing or bedding, could not lie down to sleep in rainforest country because they would be eaten alive by ticks, leeches and all the other many maddening insects. They also could not hunt in rainforest with their standard boomerangs and spears. They needed bows and arrows and they didn’t have them. Consequently they didn’t live in those areas if they could possibly avoid them.
So they spent thousands of years trying their best to convert the rainforest into eucalypt and grassland by creating the hottest fires possible and they were quite successful over a large part of the country.
However they can’t do it today. I tried recently to get an Aboriginal environmental group to cool-burn my place during the least flammable time of year along the many kilometres of maintained fire trails and even they couldn’t get permission.

I have to either arrange lightning strikes or arsonists.

Hasbeen
Reply to  Dennis
November 27, 2021 6:57 pm

They could burn areas at will as there were no McMansions cluttering up the bush that could not be removed by fire. The abandoned camp sites were well cleansed by a fire, making for healthy rehabilitation when regenerated.

Kalsel3294(@kalsel3294)
Reply to  Dennis
November 27, 2021 6:59 pm

I often wonder how they were able to confine burns to patches. With all the modern equipment we now have, access to real time weather data and being restricted to fuel reduction burns and burning fire breaks when conditions are right, controlled burns do on occasion become uncontrolled, and embers from a fire supposedly blackened out, reigniting and breaking out also on occasions. Benign weather can suddenly change.
Fires started from dry lightning can happen any time, I recall farmers getting their own trucks out onto the roads ready to go at the first sign of smoke, now days it is largely left to someone to report it to the authorities who dispatch a water bomber and call out the local volunteer brigades with pagers. Supposedly now the rules are that no-one who hasn’t been vaccinated or completed the prescribed training is not allowed to attend local fires with the brigade Captain responsible for enforcing such rules. It is already hard enough to find someone willing to take on the increasing load being put on the Captains, I’m not sure where it is all heading.

PeterW
Reply to  Kalsel3294
November 29, 2021 2:32 am

It’s not difficult.
The landscape and vegetation does not dry out uniformly. The ridges dry out earlier than the moist gullies, and can be burnt as they do so, with little risk of widespread fire because the gullies are still green. Later in the season the gullies are dry enough, but the previously burnt ridgelines act as breaks.

Native grasses mostly grow in summer, senesce with the first frosts and can be burnt in spring as soon as they dry out. Thus in much of the most dangerous summer period, large areas are either recently burnt, or green.

Those who imagine that aboriginals had little to lose from fire have never faced a large fire with no pre-prepared safe zones and no faster way of evacuating than on foot. Aboriginals burnt to safeguard the most valuable things they had. Their lives.
Fire also made travel easier, safer and more comfortable – as anyone who has ever tried to walk through dense scrub or high grass would know. It made small prey animals far easier to locate and catch.

Finally, imagine trying to find enough game to eat after a mega-fire had killed everything that could not fly away, over a tribe’s entire territory.

Aboriginals were practical people who lit fire in self-defence.

Kalsel3294(@kalsel3294)
Reply to  Dennis
November 27, 2021 10:37 pm

To add to my other reply, if each “patch” is burnt in rotation, just how big would each “patch” need to be to cover an area of any worthwhile significance, and what resources would have been needed to exercise control on confining the area being burnt. I suspect that once such a fire was lit it would have been left to burn itself out, the resources needed to control it by men on foot whether in forested areas or open plains, would have been enormous, if not impossible.

markx
Reply to  Kalsel3294
November 28, 2021 3:47 pm

How they burnt in patches.

Light small fires at a cool time of the year on a day when the wind is not too strong and the area is just dry enough to burn, best around early evening as the night will cool and dampen it. Light it first on the downwind side of the area you want to burn and keep putting out the upwind edge. The when you have enough of a barrier, nip around and light the upwind side where it is easy to tend the upwind edge, and when that is moving you just have to then tend the edges.
Do that for 65,000 years and you end up with a patchwork.
The patch burnt last year won’t burn this year, and most likely neither will the patch burnt a year before that, etc …. and probably you can take that out 5 or 10 years or so.

Of course, now, with centralized bureaucratic management of fire decision making, that one suitable day or at best, one or two week window when conditions are correct cannot be utilized by the knowledgeable observer on the ground, as decisions take 6 to 12 months to come back. Worse situations arise with centralized fire-fighting control when no autonomy is granted to those at the fire-fronts.

PeterW
Reply to  markx
November 29, 2021 2:34 am

Observation from the time suggests that in many ways they just lit everything that would burn as soon as it was dry enough.

To bed B
November 27, 2021 10:50 am

From one of the links to a newspaper article
“Experts warn extreme bushfire weather risk growing
Mike Foley
By Mike Foley
December 31, 2019 — 6.30pm

Climate experts have warned the weather system fuelling this week’s catastrophic bushfires across south-eastern Australia will be up to four times more likely to occur under forecast levels of global warming.

This particular weather event occurs when a low-pressure system from the Southern Ocean races north and collides with a high-pressure system on the NSW coast. The two systems then force hot, dry air from inland Australia out towards the coast, resulting in strong westerly winds for days, before an abrupt southerly change when the cold front sweeps past.”

So what did a cooling trend of similar surface waters of 0.07°C per decade do to make the cold front sprint a bit quicker?

Auger, M., Morrow, R., Kestenare, E. et al. Southern Ocean in-situ temperature trends over 25 years emerge from interannual variability. Nat Commun 12, 514 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20781-1

Was this 4 times based on the highest estimate in 100 years time? Hence, the recent bushfires must have been caused by climate change?

It’s beyond a joke.

To bed B
Reply to  To bed B
November 27, 2021 10:51 am

“Subpolar” not “similar” – auto correct again.

ironicman
Reply to  To bed B
November 28, 2021 1:50 pm

The important point is that a blocking high pressure extended up the east coast of Australia, funnelling hot north westerlies along the Great Dividing Range.

The ‘blocking’ is caused by a meandering jet stream, a sign of global cooling. The irony burns.

Ron Long
November 27, 2021 11:16 am

I hate to think of it but it appears that semi-controlled bushfire burns are likely to reduce the fuel load. I just read an article called “24 Australians arrested for deliberately setting fires this season”, published January 6, 2020. CSIRO has joined USGS and CONICET as Political Science entities, abandoning their prior good scientific work..

Dennis
Reply to  Ron Long
November 27, 2021 4:26 pm

During bushfires in the 2019/20 bushfire season on the Mid North Coast of NSW police discovered a small group of young men riding trail bikes who had been lighting fires, unfortunately they were local indigenous community boys.

Police reported that when the boys rode off when the police arrived but one shouted that it’s “our” land and “we’ll” burn it if we want to.

But they are the exception, there are too many arsonists playing with fire in bushfire seasons here.

Joseph Zorzin
November 27, 2021 11:38 am

“Australian forest want to burn. The seeds of many species of the dominant eucalyptus trees absolutely need fire to germinate, they have evolved to use fire to clear away the competition.”

It might be worth considering planting trees species which are not fire dependent and which, if a fire occurs, will not burn so fast as eucalyptus. Time to talk to Australian foresters about this.

aussiecol
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 27, 2021 1:04 pm

Apart from rainforest species which don’t grow in fire prone areas, all other species encourage fire to regenerate. Sorry, but introducing new exotic species is not the answer.

Dnalor50
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 27, 2021 1:43 pm

Good idea Joseph. Deciduous trre planting around small country towns and homesteads combined with firebreaks would reduce fire risk.
There have been reports about houses surrounded by deciduous trees being given some protection by the high water content of the leaves. Gum trees and human habitation don’t mix unless the humans are nomadic.

Andre Thomas Lewis
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 27, 2021 5:17 pm

Australian bushland was far more diverse in species once but thousands of years of ‘firestick farming’ by aboriginal groups changed it. Species like eucalypts that propagate after fire took over which is the environment we have now. Its man made.

Joseph Zorzin
November 27, 2021 11:49 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z37yJm3IAQ8&t=293s

A very good discussion of the Australian bush fires by Dr. John Robson, a Canadian historian.

Doug Danhoff
November 27, 2021 11:51 am

Incredibly the aussies are even dumber than Americans . It is a disease… the disease of all dictatorships …” Do what I say, or your in trouble “. And the people of Oz seem even more timid than other countries It started when they stupidly turned in their guns and has progressed to what we see today ..a nation of sheep

Stephen Mueller
Reply to  Doug Danhoff
November 27, 2021 12:23 pm

Mate we turned in semi autos not all guns , and we try and be respectful of the laws our Govt sets after all we voted for them but as you can see by the protests in Melbourne when things go wrong or a Govt goes to far we react.

Dennis
Reply to  Stephen Mueller
November 27, 2021 4:31 pm

US misconception on guns in Australia where there are many gun clubs and shooting ranges and gun shops.

We need a licence to own a gun and to register our guns, modern military weapons are banned. But, for example, a farmer or rancher in remote areas where feral pests are a problem can register Vietnam SLR rifles and can even own a hand gun like a Glock 9mm for remote area protection.

Peta of Newark
November 27, 2021 12:04 pm

The real madness is in burning by any means.
But for those of a slow-witted nature, burning stuff today is a very good way of stopping it burning tomorrow. The logic is immaculate.

Rake the stuff up, run it through a shredder (if possible douse it with water) mix it with some loose dirt and bury it.

You will finish up with a whole new Sahara otherwise – a place noted for its low fuel load and minimal wildfires but perfectly nothing else (useful)

Is that what you REALLY want – coz you’re gonna get it.
California too.

To bed B
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 27, 2021 12:49 pm

The logic is that these forests are adapted for the burning of litter every few years. Many plants only spread seeds after a fire. The trees easily survive a fire that has only a few years of litter accumulated even if it’s a 41° C day rather than 40..

Without a doubt, https://www.bushfirefront.org.au/resources-2/historical-accounts/fires-around-sydney/ , the Aborigines burnt by any means on regular basis when Europeans arrived and had likely been doing the same for more than 10 000 years. Radical climate change occurred before that.

MarkW
Reply to  To bed B
November 27, 2021 6:01 pm

Peta has formed a theory whereby fire always destroys the soil and a result a permanent desert is created.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 27, 2021 1:54 pm

There are about 60 + trees and shrubs in Australia that are fire resistant or fire tolerant. The Eucalyptus needs fire as that will clear away competition. And what is your experience that tells you burning will create a Sahara? Are you saying that all the deserts have been caused by humans burning vegetation and has nothing to do the high pressure join between the Hadley and Ferrel Cells?

MarkW
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 27, 2021 6:00 pm

Peta actually believes that deserts are caused by fires.
The fact that the world has many places that burn every couple of years and have for millions of years manages to escape her.
The fact that existing deserts flourish whenever the levels of water increase has no impact on her opinions.

Ted
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 27, 2021 7:12 pm

Just rake up several hundred million acres of backwoods. I guess that’s the difference between slow-witted and no-witted.

Brooks H Hurd
Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 28, 2021 10:44 am

It is only recently that the greens decided that an enormous fuel load is more desirable than allowing controlled burns.

Your suggestion of chipping, dousing with water and burying the fuel load might work for your back yard, but how do you expect to reduce the fuel load of California’s 81,000 km2 of forests?

aussiecol
November 27, 2021 12:20 pm

A report has just been conducted about Australia’s next bushfire risk areas, and it is interesting what is stated about previous bushfires,

”But the Outlook also contains encouraging news for coastal communities stretching from the north of NSW and down into the Gippsland region in Victoria.
Along with the ACT, these areas have been rated as having lower than normal fire potential this summer, primarily because bush areas are still recovering from the Black Summer, but also in some cases because they are expected to experience higher than average rainfall.”

So it has been admitted that previous wildfires have actually reduced the fire risk yet CSIRO put their collective heads in the sand and ignore the evidence and simply blame man made climate change for the incompetence of of not reducing the fuel loads in the bush.

Waza
Reply to  aussiecol
November 27, 2021 6:04 pm

Previous annual bushfire risk reports clearly highlighted areas at risk, but nothing was done about it. Surprise surprise, guess what areas actually burnt.

https://www.bnhcrc.com.au/hazardnotes/68

aussiecol
Reply to  Waza
November 27, 2021 9:06 pm

Yes, hindsight is supposed to be a wonderful thing from learning from ones mistakes.

fretslider
November 27, 2021 12:29 pm

Aren’t first peoples supposed to be the wisest on matters environmental?

“ While it is not feasible for us to reproduce the fine mosaic of fuel ages that aboriginal management developed, we can use the same process on a larger scale to ensure that native vegetation fuels do not accumulate to hazardous levels.”

https://www.bushfirefront.org.au/about-fire/aboriginal-use-of-fire/

Stephen Skinner
November 27, 2021 1:39 pm

Why don’t the environmentalists ask the indigenous Aboriginals about land management?

Restoring country with Cool Burns


Indigenous fire methods protect land before and after the Tathra bushfire


How Indigenous fire management practices could protect bushland | Australian Story


How to conduct a cool burn – Cool Burning

spangled drongo
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
November 27, 2021 6:15 pm

Stephen, cool-burning was never something practiced by Aboriginals for their original fire-eradication solution to their problems. As I said upthread, their purpose was to eradicate rainforest and to do that they needed the hottest fire they could possibly generate.

These modern “Aboriginals” have never lived in anything but luxury compared to their ancestors and can’t remember what it was all about.

When I was young I was apprenticed to the chief rainmaker in the tribe and he had to paint his whole body with a mixture of clay and ashes before he could lay down to sleep even in eucalyptus country.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  spangled drongo
November 28, 2021 4:26 am

But the rain forests are still there even though depleted and only exist in the tropical climate zone in the north. The bulk of Australia is in the desert latitude with the very southern part touching the temperate zone. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, there are 6 major climate zones in Australia, which all break down into a total of 27 sub climate zones. Even when the Sahara goes green it doesn’t turn into rain forest as rain forests are the result of rising wet air where the north and south Hadley cells join.

spangled drongo
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
November 28, 2021 5:47 pm

Stephen, much of the ex-tropical, prime Australian farming country was thick, impenetrable rain forest when white man first arrived and the major condition in his land selection agreement was that he had to clear the land or lose it.

The amount of rain forest clearing that some lone individuals did in these areas with just axe, horse and bullock is mind boggling. And their farms often still look like the parkland they produced 170 years ago.

One of the earliest industries consisted of sailing ships towing great rafts of logs out of river estuaries, along the coast, to main settlements for milling and export.

Much of this beautiful virgin timber was still being used in construction of houses, furniture and joinery as recently as 40 years ago.

aussiecol
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
November 27, 2021 9:02 pm

There is still the problem of the urban interface where more is needed to be done than just cool burns. The bush needs to be mechanically thinned and the undergrowth mulched to encourage a grassy understory to try and prevent crown fires from crossing containment lines. This is where the loss of infrastructure has mostly occurred with previous fires.

Dennis
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
November 27, 2021 9:32 pm

This study might add to peoples knowledge …

https://library.dbca.wa.gov.au/static/FullTextFiles/072258.pdf

Howard Dewhirst
November 27, 2021 1:40 pm

And just how are human CO2 emissions causing this years cool wet summer, when in 2019/20, they caused drought and fires

Chris Hanley
November 27, 2021 1:41 pm

Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) is used in Australia to measure the degree of fire danger in Australian forests. It combines a record of dryness, based on rainfall and evaporation, with meteorological variables for wind speed, temperature and humidity’.
Since 1950 the FFDI index (sourced from the ABC) shows an increase:
comment image
However a similar graph for the Australia Alps since 1900 tells a different story:
comment image

Last edited 1 month ago by Chris Hanley
Stuart Hamish
Reply to  Chris Hanley
November 30, 2021 5:51 am

Nice input Chris …The Australian continents record fire season occurred in the second lowest trough in the Forest Fire Danger Index above coinciding with the wettest [ not the driest ] years in the BoM annual rainfall series : 1974 – 75 …117 million hectares of Australia – a landmass equivalent to Spain France and Portugal combined and possibly a world record – burned in nearly all states during the spring and summer of 1974-75 ..By comparison an estimated 26 – 29 million hectares [ Approximate to Western Australia’s burned area alone in the 74-75 fire season ] were incinerated during the 2019 -20 Black Summer coinciding with the driest year [ The Indian Ocean Dipole event year 2019 – the orange peak at the end of the FFDI chart ] in the BoM national rainfall series after 1902 ..This incredible fact actually vindicates the bushland fuel load argument and not the pseudoscientific nonsense peddled by the CSIRO . .Where was the climate change influence in 1974-75 when global cooling was the climate scare de jour ?. Now that’s awkward and may explain why the CSIRO and the ABC have not highlighted this .The heavy and persistent rains soaking Australia in 1974 and the years previously, stimulated so much grassland , forest undergrowth and scrub that the countryside was a tinderbox in the summer months. Of course the 1851 ,1983 and 2009 megafires were driven by drought ,fuel loads and hot blustery winds but the point is there is no standard fire danger vulnerability rating ..Further evidence in support of the fuel load axiom can be seen in the South West W.A 1960 – 2017 proscribed burn history line graph juxtaposed with the regions bushfire chronology [ See the Australian Bushfire Front page and Joanne Nova’s article featuring the chart ] …After the 1961 Dwellingup fires hazard reduction burns escalated as intense bushfires scaled down and then re-emerged decades later as the corresponding HRB’s decreased . I consider the Accumulated FFDI chart dubious for another reason : scientific analytical and processing techniques have improved since the 1990’s which may have skewed the results .

observa
November 27, 2021 2:18 pm

I see Boris has the fuel load problem well in hand-
Boris Johnson’s tree planting strategy ‘in flames’, as UK spends six times more on wood burning power station (msn.com)
These climate changers are all bonkers.

Robert of Texas
November 27, 2021 2:27 pm

Yes, quantity of fuel has no bearing on fire intensity and that big ball of glowing super-heated gas in the sky has no bearing on land temperature. Great science. Time for a Nobel prize.

Kalsel3294(@kalsel3294)
November 27, 2021 2:49 pm

The worst fires in Victoria’s recorded history happened on 6th February 1851 when one quarter burnt in a series of fires across the state some burning clear to the coast.

In 2006 a major fire burnt through the Grampians in Victoria closing down large areas and major roads in order for repairs to be carried out. When the Halls Gap – Dunkeld road reopened some weeks later I drove through and it became obvious the areas that had previously had fuel reduction burns and those had not. Side by side there would be an area completely reduced to white ash apart from the trunks of some large trees and some of the larger branches. Right next to such areas would the same vegetation but whilst the forest floor fuel would be completely burnt the fire only burnt the lower part of the trees such that many trees still retained the leaves on the upper branches. The leaves may have been scorched and dead, but they remained unburnt. The difference was quite distinct as if a line had been drawn on the ground.

nankerphelge
November 27, 2021 2:58 pm

Here”s the rub. (Bushfire inducing weather patterns) “……will be up to four times more likely to occur under forecast levels of global warming….”.
Exactly ! They are forecasts not facts.
I will tell you what you can bet on and that is you can cut and paste the Black Friday (1939) Royal Commission findings into any successive inquiries and all you have to do is replace the technology eg 1939 Bulldozers 2020 Aerial Tankers etc.
Also the Black Summer fires were about one sixth the size of the largest Australian Bushfire on record!

November 27, 2021 2:58 pm

Some useful links by Stephen Skinner – hopefully these get approved.
Wicked ol’ whities like myself would get pilloried for suggesting a return to the traditional land management systems, but the usual suspects currently steer clear of attacking the aboriginal community. I have been urging my indigenous friends to consider starting up consultancies for this. I’ll help – under my honorary name of course.
A key resource on this matter is Bill Gammage, The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia. 434 pp. ISBN 978 1 74237 748 3.

Southern Leading
November 27, 2021 3:49 pm

Neatly avoids the fires of Ash Wednesday 1983 when Melbourne was ringed by fires and 75 people died from fires after a 10 month drought

Dennis
November 27, 2021 4:07 pm

During the 1960s Sydney Australia was ringed by bushfires stopping traffic on all roads for several days. The bushfire started in the Royal National Park on the southern end of the Sydney Basin on land that had been well managed by the Sydney Water Board and was handed to National Parks & Wildlife Service after the land there was registered with the UN (Agenda 21 – Sustainability) as National Park, and land management against the threat of bushfires declined. After all you can’t pick up fallen potential bushfire fuel and conduct burning off exercises, it’s nature at work and wildlife habitats.

Well The Australian Aborigines managed their lands which around 130,000 years ago had been subjected to gradual climate change to hotter and drier conditions, the rain forests retreated and today cover about 3 per cent of Australia and were replaced by eucalypts that tolerate dry drought conditions, heatwaves and flooding rains. And need fire to regenerate.

Aborigines developed a seasonal burning system based on weather conditions and burning patches in rotation every few years to maintain open easy to access land with grasses to attract wildlife and generally make Aboriginal life better, and safer. Previously burnt patches will not sustain hot fires and when fires reach more recently burnt areas the fire will stop because of the lack of new fuel. The technique is being re-introduced, North Western Australia and the Northern Territory are examples of rangers including indigenous rangers using seasonal burning land management.

When the first white settlers arrived in January 1788 and explored the land looking for farmland they were surprised by the appearance, it has been described as large areas like estates in the UK, open country with trees spread out and grass below. Of course there were some difficult to access areas that were not managed.

Early settlers who established Sydney Town on the side of Port Jackson, Sydney Harbour, in the Colony of New South Wales, a British Empire colony, were concerned about cattle disappearing and blamed the Aborigines. But explorers found the herd grazing on grassland south-west of Sydney Town near permanent water supply at what is now called the Camden District and Campbelltown. Later settlers in the Colony of Victoria and southern New South Wales discovered grasslands in the High Country of the now Snowy Mountains Region and grazing of cattle continued until recent times when banned by woke government authorities. Former High Country cattleman family members have told me that what used to be open country and magnificent grasslands in between the trees is now being taken over by tangled undergrowth including blackberry bushes, fuel for very hot wildfires that would devastate the National Park lands and wildlife.

In fact bushfires in those areas were out of control in 2019/20, the Victoria Government has since refused requests for access to records on the land management that took place over the years since cattle grazing was banned.

The politics of climate change now attempts to whitewash history and pretend that Aboriginal seasonal burning tradition never happened.

Dennis
November 27, 2021 4:14 pm

A friend who owns a property (sheep and wheat) in Western NSW told me that he cannot obtain a permit to clear more than 35 per cent of the fallen timber and leaves on his land in any one year and permits for burning off are very difficult to obtain.

Yet Green groups with wealthy woke donors are buying pastoral properties and allowing them to return to nature, they become havens for feral introduced animals including wild dogs that attack farm animals, pigs that cause all kinds of destruction and others, and the unmanaged lands become potential bushfire sources.

I know that volunteer Rural Fire Services are frustrated by the reluctance by authorities to issue burning off permits to prepare for bushfire seasons.

But climate change hoax continues to claim that warming is the problem, ignore the lack of land management preparation, very dry drought conditions at times and flooding rains that promote rapid growth of vegetation before the inevitable in Australia next drought period.

Craig from Oz
November 27, 2021 4:41 pm

Every wondered why they are called Bush Fires?

Cause you don’t get them in the deserts.

In my current Day Job we have some remote sites. Early in the year they had some fires go through the area and burnt off all the long grass and scrub surrounding the site. The people working there monitored from the safe side of the cleared fire buffer zones and then relaxed, comforted in the fact that after this (natural) burn there will not be enough fuel load for another fire that size for several more years.

This is basic fuel triangle stuff. Oxygen, heat, fuel. Remove one and the fire collapses. The fact that so called ‘experts’ and their Green Media corruptions want to ignore the basic principle that there will be no large fires without fuel load is boarding on criminal.

Kristian Fredriksson
November 27, 2021 5:41 pm

It was the cold sea surface waters around Australia in the spring and summer 2019 that was the culprit. No evaporation fron the sea, less clouds and less precipitation make drought and good conditions for bush fires.

comment image

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  Kristian Fredriksson
November 30, 2021 6:04 am

The Indian Ocean Dipole ….Well spotted Kristian …

lee
November 27, 2021 6:16 pm

On the ABC Canadell also said beware of fuel load after La Nina. So it is/isn’t a factor on bushfire, depending on….

“”The highest area of burn actually comes right after a La Niña year, because the wetness across the continent really brings up the fuel loads,” he said.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-26/climate-change-increases-risk-of-megafires-csiro/100653146

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-27225-4/figures/3

And they seem to have minimised the 1974-75 bushfire season, which even if wiki is egregiously wrong, see,s to large a drop. And 1974-75 was a period of global cooling. There were 6 megafires 1990 -2020. There were 6 megafires 1960-1990.

About 3 times area burned last 30 years compared to previous 30.

Last edited 1 month ago by lee
lee
Reply to  lee
November 28, 2021 12:46 am

I have sent an email to CSIRO for clarification.

Last edited 1 month ago by lee
Otway dreamer
Reply to  lee
November 28, 2021 12:43 pm

The late 60s had mega fires all over eastern Australia…how about the mega fires 1940 to 1970? How about 1910 to 1940…..mad mega fires in the 1920s. Give us context man

Its all about the time frames picked and the ones left out….basically lies dressed up as stats

MarkMcD
November 27, 2021 6:46 pm

Simple solution – put these idiot mouthpieces for socialist agenda change on the fire lines for the next round of Ash Wednesday/Black Saturday fires.

After all, these ivory tower stupid people are advocating the exact same policies that CAUSED those fires to take so many lives and destroy so much property.

And people who believe this garbage from those who have never lived in the bush went out and lit fires all down the east coast more recently – contributing $100+ million to Red Cross and other charities that never passed along the gifts from Australians. (or passed along tiny amounts)

Enough of these junk-science fools!

John in Cairns
November 27, 2021 8:08 pm

Humidity levels are the key for the following reasons. Cooler water in the Great Australian Bight means lower evaporation volumes and rain clouds being driven northward by passing high pressure cells, fewer rain clouds mean drought, drier forest ,less moisture in the soil means less evaporative cooling and lower humidity and higher fire hazard. Farmers have known this for years. Ocean cooling, not warming causes droughts Perhaps CSIRO should not look now because its about to start again.

Stan Sexton
November 27, 2021 8:16 pm

Lots of fires caused by Pyroterrorism. Look up on Google.

harry
November 27, 2021 9:31 pm

The paper is essentially saying that if you carefully choose a period that is ~50-50 split between a normal period of rain and a 1 in 100 year drought and take the end point to be the year of a catastrophic fire season (note that it has subsequently rained significantly over those areas for the next 2 seasons), you can create a graph that looks exponential.

This is hardly surprising since you would expect that each year of a 1 in 100 year drought would have an increasing likelihood of fires.

They would likely have wanted to produce a hockey stick but they couldn’t find a way of hiding prior major fires, so they took the next alternative, they truncated their main analysis to just the last 32 years.

Chris*
November 27, 2021 10:13 pm

The CSIRO no longer works for Australia.It is a lab for hire, nothing comes out unless it is paid for.

tygrus
November 27, 2021 10:15 pm

Note from the 2nd sentence quoted below, according to the CSIRO:
“When the weather conditions are extreme, our ability to manage fires becomes very limited and the effect of hazard reduction efforts decreases. But hazard reduction burning lengthens the window of opportunity for effective action when fires are controllable and increases the ability of emergency services to safely suppress a fire before it becomes uncontrollable.

Where hazard reduction burning has been carried out, we know that it slows the spread of fires, reduces their intensity, and lowers the potential for spot fires.”
https://ecos.csiro.au/hazard-reduction-burn/

Needs more emperical evidence from testing their hypotheses, more than 100 years of climate/fire history & take notice of published work instead of bias.

Graeme4
November 27, 2021 11:01 pm

Australian eucalyptus forests drop litter at a high rate of 8 tonnes per hectare every year. But only 29% of this litter decomposes every year. So it doesn’t take long for the litter to build up to 15-29 tonnes/ha, a level at which, if it catches fire, is near impossible to extinguish.
So at least 10% of these forests need to be burnt every year to clear the litter. Unfortunately, Victoria and NSW only burn off less than 2% annually. Only Western Australia tries to achieve a burn-off rate of 10% every year.

Nicholas
November 28, 2021 1:42 am

The Fire Triangle, Oxygen/Fuel/Ignition-Heat, has gained another side, the Envirmentalist.

The Fire Square predicts that removal of the Envirmentalists from any potential fire situation has a double effect by also allowing the reduction of the fuel load.

Martin
November 28, 2021 3:06 am

Climate change is the bureaucrats ultimate get out of jail free card. Instead of having to spend time and money organising controlled burns it is far easier to throw your hands up in the air and wail “its because of climate change”

GregK
November 28, 2021 5:04 am

If you want bushfires in SE Australia all you need is a combination of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole and El Nino.

In El Nino years rainfall is lower in SE Australia.
With a positive IOD there is cooler water of NW Australia, lower evaporation, fewer cyclones so very little rainfall over the Pilbara. The Pilbara heats up [ferociously] and drives hot, dry NEly winds down across a dry SE Australia.

Bushfires ? You’ve got them.
Then things swap around to La Nina and you get floods across eastern Australia [like now] which will generate more forest growth, more fuel load all ready for the next positive IOD/El Nino.

“We’ll all be rooned” said Hanrahan.

Kalsel3294(@kalsel3294)
Reply to  GregK
November 29, 2021 12:14 pm

The phases of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and the Pacific Ocean El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) vary independant of each other, at times like phases (wet or dry) coincide and at other times offset each other. When a IOD negative phase (wet) coincides with a Pacific La Nina phase that can be times of major flooding, but that may only happen once in 30 years or so. Likewise when a IOD positive phase (dry) coincides with a Pacific El Nino extremely dry conditions can occur across the country. Much of the time the phases may be trending around neutral or offsetting each other.

What must not be forgotten is that whatever the effects of the current phase being felt in Australia, the opposite is being felt by those areas bordering the other side of the oceans. Thus a IOD negative phase may bring wetter conditions across Australia, but leave parts of Africa facing drier conditions and so too in the Pacific. El Nino was so named because of the positive effects warmer SST bought to areas of South America around Christmas time.

Humility
November 28, 2021 5:17 am

Same as California: It’s not like the area has a history of forest fires for as long as people can remember. It’s not like fires are nature’s way of refreshing itself. Never let science get in the way of a good narrative.

Heck, what are they worried about? They’re all leftists now. Let it all burn down.

Eh Wot?
November 28, 2021 6:06 am

* Hey Mate? Didja hear about the one about the truckload of cleared firewood that was stacked next to a fireplace in the city and the brushfire area it came from burning out of control afterwards? NO? Well, neither did I! *

Brooks H Hurd
November 28, 2021 10:21 am

Climate change was the excuse that governor Newsom used in California to divert blame away from the lack of forest management by a secession of California governments. These politicians had convinced themselves that doing nothing was forest management.

Several years ago, after a particularly devastating fire season, CalFire wrote a report that made it clear that California needed active forest management. The report placed the blame on the California governmental policies which almost totally precluded active forest management. Since CalFire is responsible for fighting major fires throughout the state, their report could not be ignored. Over the past few years there have been controlled burns.

California has a long way to go after years of mismanagement. There are still 150 Million dead trees standing in California forests. California has yet to build fire breaks.

Aaron
November 28, 2021 11:11 am

Just as a though experiment: Increase the temperature by five degrees. Then increase the wind speed by ten km/hour. Now….. try to burn that which burned last year. It won’t. Why not? No fuel. Hello? No fuel, no fire, regardless of other conditions. Not only that ridiculous example, but there’s a line, or a curve if you like, between no fuel and over abundant fuel. Less fuel will result in less fire. It’s so easy a cave man could figure it out.

JohnnyL
November 28, 2021 12:02 pm

Arson was a significant issue last year, over 200 arrested, as well as environmental laws against clearing brush from around homes to protect small animal habitat.

DaveR
November 28, 2021 2:29 pm

The devastating 2009 Black Saturday bushfires destroyed 1.1 million acres of land, at least 3,500 buildings and killed 178 people. Most of the fires were in the southern state of Victoria.

The Victorian government of the day quickly called a Royal Commission inquiry into the causes and reasons for the disaster.

After 2 years the Royal Commission handed down its report containing numerous recommendations, a major one of which was that cool burning should be undertaken at the annual level of 390,000Ha in Victoria.

The Victorian Labor government unequivocally adopted that key recommendation.

The subsequent cool burning record for Victoria is as follows:

2014/15 353,326Ha 91%
2015/16 197,940Ha 51%
2016/17 125,052Ha 32%
2017/18 74,728Ha 19%
2018/19 130,000Ha 33%

And then, surprise surprise, we have the devastating 2019/20 bushfire season.

All this occurred on the watch of Labor Premier Andrews, who is still in office today. What culpability does the failed performance of the Victorian State have?

Oh thats right, its Climate Change.

Old Woman of the North
November 29, 2021 3:41 am

Fires in Australia are normal. They occur after wetter years where fuel build-up is allowed. In the 1890s, I think, 5 million acres burned in southern Australia because that region has wet winters and hot dry summers in a normal year. Another bad fire was in 1939 in NSW and Victoria. 1950s had bad fires Qld because that decade was a series of wet years with fuel build- up. Once broad-acre farming began fires were easier to contain with fire breaks. Reducing burning regimes leads to hotter ones that o more damage.

Andy H
November 30, 2021 1:38 am

Australia has a policy of carbon farming to offset CO2 emissions.They have given tax breaks to people who increase the amount of carbon (aka tinder) stored in their land. Check out the negative CO2 output since 2009 in forestry unsder Sectors>>4 Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry UNFCCC

https://ageis.climatechange.gov.au/NGGITrend.aspx

If forestry is taking up 50000 gigatonnes of CO2 but only producing 5000 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent timber then there is 45000 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent take up- making tens of thousands of gigatonnes of dry weight timber.

In my opinion, the forest fires a couple of years ago are partly as a result of a decade of forestry and land mismanagement.

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