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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Climate change and the Victorian bushfire crisis

The science and warnings for this Bushfire crisis were well known and ignored. This was criminal negligence by our political leaders of the highest order.

See my twitter thread on #bushfires to Darren Chester MP interview on BBC on 30/12 #climateemergency

Nationals @DarrenChesterMP (Gippsland) on BBC on #bushfire emergency "Whether they are worse in years to come is a debateable point I suppose. One of the challenges we have is trying to reduce fuel loads in the months leading up to the summer period"

I call bullshit #Auspol 1/10

Factcheck: Bushfires in Victoria becoming worse:
1. "Extreme fire weather has increased since the 1970s in the east and south of Australia, including Victoria, with the fire season length extending from October to March." 2/10

2. "Climate change is now making hot days hotter, and heatwaves longer and more frequent. Drought conditions have been increasing in Australia’s southeast." 3/10

Temperature anomaly trend for Vctoria

Frequency of extreme heat events increasing for Australia

Victoria 36 month rainfall deficiency (drought)

Annual rainfall trend for Victoria:

3. "Climate change is driving an increase in dangerous fire weather, which in turn is increasing the frequency and severity of bushfires." 4/10

4. "Fire severity and intensity is expected to increase substantially in coming decades in Victoria. The fire season will continue to lengthen, further reducing the opportunities for safe hazard reduction burning."

See studies modelling future trend in bushfire risk. 5/10

Professor Hughes said the link between climate change and increased bushfire risk was well established.

“Climate change is making hot days hotter and heatwaves more intense, which then leads to dry conditions and drives up the odds of high fire danger weather,” she said. 6/10

Professor Hughes: “Seven out of ten of the hottest years in Victoria on record have occurred since 2000 and recent severe fires in Victoria were driven by record hot dry conditions driven by climate change.” 7/10

Professor Will Steffen highlighted more action required to protect Victorians from worsening bushfires.

“One of the major challenges of climate change is that in addition to increasing the bushfire threat, it also reduces the ability of fire services to minimize that risk” 8/10

Professor Will Steffen...
“That’s because the window of opportunity for safe hazard reduction burning are diminishing due to lengthening fire seasons, leaving Victoria extremely vulnerable." 9/10

23 former Fire and Emergency Leaders with more than 600 years of combined experience called in April 2019 for stronger action on #bushfires and #climatechange, warning that worsening extreme weather is threatening Australian lives. 10/10 #Australiaburns


The statement called on Federal Government:

Tackling climate change effectively requires rapidly and deeply reducing greenhouse gas pollution here in Australia and around the world. We have the solutions at our disposal, we just need the political will to get on with the job.We call on the Prime Minister to:
  • Meet with a delegation of former emergency services leaders who will outline, unconstrained by their former employers, how climate change risks are rapidly escalating.
  • Commit to a parliamentary inquiry into whether Australian emergency services are adequately resourced and equipped to cope with increasing natural disaster risks due to climate change.
  • Recognise that strategic national firefighting assets like large firefighting aircraft are prohibitively expensive for states and territories, are currently leased from the northern hemisphere, and that increased overlap of fire seasons is restricting access to this equipment during times of need. A cost-benefit analysis of current arrangements and their effectiveness, and how Australia’s strategic aerial firefighting needs can be best met and funded, needs to be initiated in consultation with the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.
  • Ensure continued funding for stakeholder-driven research into how we can respond to, mitigate, and increase resilience to bushfires, natural hazards and escalating climate change risks.

We call on all State and Territory Governments to:
  • Provide increased resources to enable forestry, national parks, urban and rural fire services to increase environmentally sensitive fuel reduction and fire mitigation programs.
  • Focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation programs while taking strong action to significantly reduce state / territory emissions.
  • Cease cutting the budgets and resources of forestry, national parks, urban and rural fire services, both directly and through instruments such as “efficiency dividends”, so that the services can increase operational capacity to deal with our “new normal” of catastrophic weather risks.

Hazard Reduction Burning

An instructive lesson on the effectiveness of hazard reduction and backburning and its effect in curtailing the current high intensity #NSWbushfires

from @greengoldstein #ecocide

'We did burnoffs': Badja Sparks says hazard reduction burning didn't stop #bushfire destruction given the ferocity and intensity of fire and extreme fire weather (these are driven by climate change factors) #Australiaburns #NSWbushfires #climateemergency

Wytaliba had been back burning before fatal fire: Sparks

January 7, 2020 The Conversation - There’s no evidence ‘greenies’ block bushfire hazard reduction but here’s a controlled burn idea worth trying
Jason Alexandra, RMIT University and David Bowman, University of Tasmania

Local, self organised, community groups can be supported to do strategic hazard reduction through a range of techniques – including targeted grazing, and prescribed or fuel reduction burning.

November 19, 2019 The Conversation - Our land is burning, and western science does not have all the answers
David Bowman, University of Tasmania and Ben J. French, University of Tasmania

Indigenous people used small fires skilfully to prevent larger bushfires. In this time of crisis, we must learn from them.

November 15, 2019 - The Conversation - A surprising answer to a hot question: controlled burns often fail to slow a bushfire
Trent Penman, University of Melbourne; Kate Parkins, University of Melbourne, and Sarah McColl-Gausden, University of Melbourne

Despite the hype around hazard reduction burning this week, evidence shows the measure does not necessarily reduce the bushfire risk.

August 8, 2014 The Conversation - Explainer: back burning and fuel reduction
David Bowman, University of Tasmania

The recent surge of bushfire disasters has introduced fire-fighting tactics to everyday language. Two important approaches that use fire to fight fire are “back burning” and “fuel-reduction burning”. Unfortunately…

November 15, 2016 - 'Extreme episode': Hazard-reduction fires triggered 14 early deaths in Sydney, study finds
Air pollution resulting from controlled burning near Sydney was so severe it probably caused 14 premature deaths in May and sent dozens of people to hospital, according to a new health study.

The research, published in The Medical Journal of Australia, used statistical models to identify baseline deaths and cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalisation rates. It found about a 5 per cent increase during a six-day period last autumn of high pollution over the city.

Off season burning, fuel re-accumulation

Influence of extreme weather events 50 times more influential than time since last fire

Vapor pressure deficit

Project TV on lack of Greenies stopping hazard reduction burning

More fire generated weather

Adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will enable more pyrocumulonimbus (fire generated storm) events, already a “statistically significant” trend in southern Australia. In spring & summer already large changes towards more dangerous conditions.

Scientists fear surge in supersized bushfires that create their own violent thunderstorms
Pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCB) storms are feared due to the violent and unpredictable conditions they create on the ground.

Two peer reviewed papers:

Emergency experts again raise lack of preparedness

on 14 Nov 2019 former fire chiefs again raised the severity of #bushfire conditions, called for a meeting with Federal Government, increase to resourcing for fire fighting, & address fundamental issue of climate policy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

IPCC 2007 report

The IPCC 4th assessment report identified in 2007 that "Heatwaves and fires are virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency (High Confidence) " Chapter on Australia. We have known for over 12 years #bushfires getting worse, to pretend otherwise is climate denial.

What Climate Change looks like

"Catastrophic fires raging across southern half of the continent are largely the result of rising temperatures" says climate scientist Nerilie Abram in @sciam
"link between the current extremes & anthropogenic #climatechange is scientifically undisputable" Australia's Angry Summer - this is what climate change lookes like

ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes on Firestorms

The rising temperatures with climate change is making Firestorms, especially around Melbourne, much more prevalent and will worsen into the future. Much more dangerous for firefighting. #Bushfires #climatescience #AustraliaBurns

Scott Morrison Slammed by Former Fire Chief Greg Mullins

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