Aussie bushfires – climate change versus arson claims

Corky commented:

Maybe the news should have reported concurrently with their CC extravaganza that 183 Aussies have be charge/fined for reckless activities that could contribute to starting fires.
24 are alleged to have started fires deliberately. These idiots obviously have been struck down with CC fever.

Guardian: Police contradict claims spread online exaggerating arson’s role in Australian bushfires

Victoria police say there is no evidence any of the devastating bushfires in the state were caused by arson, contrary to the spread of global disinformation exaggerating arsonist arrests during the current crisis.

A misleading figure suggesting 183 arsonists have been arrested “since the start of the bushfire season” spread across the globe on Wednesday, after initial reports in News Corp were picked up by Donald Trump Jr, US far-right websites and popular alt-right personalities.

The figure included statistics from some states covering the entirety of 2019, rather than just the current bushfire season, which began in September.

In Victoria, 43 alleged arsonists were counted among the 183 arrested “in the past few months” and “since the start of the bushfire season”. That Victorian figure was, in fact, the figure for the year ending September 2019, meaning it had no relation to the current bushfire season.

“There is currently no intelligence to indicate that the fires in East Gippsland and the North East have been caused by arson or any other suspicious behaviour,” a Victoria police spokeswoman said.

The reported figure of 183 also includes 101 individuals from Queensland who were “picked up for setting fires in the bush”. But a Queensland police spokeswoman said the figure included a broader range of offences than arson, including the breaching of total fire bans, and was not a total of arrests, but a total of “police enforcement actions”.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/08/police-contradict-claims-spread-online-exaggerating-arsons-role-in-australian-bushfires

Snopes: “Nearly 200″ Australians were arrested in late 2019 and early 2020 for deliberately setting bushfires” – false

The unprecedented fires, which have killed at least 24 people, have destroyed 1,400 homes and killed millions of animals; the fires have been facilitated by extreme weather linked to climate change, like drought and a prolonged wildfire season in Australia, which has also been experiencing extreme heat. The fires are so powerful they are creating their own weather and are expected to continue burning for months to come.

But some, including Alex Jones’ conspiracy site InfoWars that spreads climate change denialism, falsely reported that “nearly 200 people” were arrested in Australia for “deliberately” starting bushfires.

That would be a distortion of the facts. Police in New South Wales released a statement disclosing that since Nov. 8, 2019, 183 people, including 40 juveniles, have been charged with 205 bushfire-related offenses. Of the 183, 24 people have been charged with deliberately setting fires. According to police, of the 183, another “53 people have had legal actions for allegedly failing to comply with a total fire ban,” and an additional “47 people have had legal actions for allegedly discarding a lighted cigarette or match on land.”

Local press reports indicate that not all of the people charged committed acts that contributed to the raging brushfires. For example, a man in the Sydney suburb of Wallacia was fined for lighting a fire to make a cup of tea. That blaze was extinguished by firefighters. Another man was cited for lighting a fire to cook food in the town of Tarro. That fire was also put out by responding crews.

Were ‘Nearly 200’ People Arrested for Deliberately Starting Australia Bushfires?

Miranda Devine (NY Post):  Celebrities, activists using Australia bushfire crisis to push dangerous climate change myth

I’m sorry, but I lived in Australia through the past two decades of escalating fire crises and it’s not climate change that has caused today’s disaster, but the criminal negligence of governments that have tried to buy green votes by locking up vast tracts of land as national parks, yet failed to spend the money needed to control ground fuel and maintain fire trails.

Instead, they bowed to an ideology that obstructs necessary hazard reduction and prevents landowners from clearing vegetation around their own properties, all in thrall to the god of “biodiversity.”

Anyone referring to “dangerous climate change myth” has to be viewed with more scepticism than usual.

Guardian: Firefighters’ group that disputes climate link to bushfires has close ties to Shooters party

A small volunteer firefighting association that disputes the link between climate change and the current bushfires has close ties to the New South Wales Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party and diverted thousands of dollars from its meagre finances to bankroll a bid by its president to run as an SFF candidate in the NSW election.

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association has been quoted extensively in the media during the bushfire crisis, particularly on Sky News and in the Australian, downplaying the links to climate change, attacking the group of ex-fire and emergency chiefs who have called for climate action, and placing blame for the fires chiefly on a lack of hazard reduction burning and poor land management.

The VFFA, which splintered from NSW’s main volunteer firefighting representative body in 2004, has repeatedly refused to say how many members it has, and recently drew the ire of the RFS commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, who called it a “highly politically-charged” group with unclear motivations that had failed to reveal “who they claim to represent, how many they represent, and how they operate”.

The Guardian can now reveal the group’s close links to the SFF party, whose leader Robert Borsak frequently disputes that humans are causing climate change and similarly blames the fires on a lack of hazard reduction burning.

Stuff (AP) – Australian bushfires: How climate change and other factors worsen fires

Experts say Australia’s unprecedented wildfires are supercharged because of climate change, the type of trees catching fire and weather.

“They are basically just in a horrific convergence of events,” said Stanford University environmental studies director Chris Field, who chaired an international scientific report on climate change and extreme events.

Q: IS CLIMATE CHANGE REALLY A FACTOR?

A: Scientists, both those who study fire and those who study climate, say there’s no doubt man-made global warming has been a big part, but not the only part, of the fires.

Last year in Australia was the hottest and driest on record, with the average annual temperature 1.5 degrees Celsius above the 1960 to 1990 average, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. Temperatures in Australia last month hit 49.9C.

“What would have been a bad fire season was made worse by the background drying/warming trend,” Andrew Watkins, head of long-range forecasts at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, said in an email.

Mike Flannigan, a fire scientist at the University of Alberta in Canada, said Australia’s fires are “an example of climate change”.

A 2019 Australian government brief report on wildfires and climate change said, “Human-caused climate change has resulted in more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires in recent decades for many regions of Australia.”

Q: HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE MAKE THESE FIRES WORSE?

A: The drier the fuel – trees and plants – the easier it is for fires to start and the hotter and nastier they get, Flannigan said.

“It means more fuel is available to burn, which means higher intensity fires, which makes it more difficult – or impossible – to put out,” Flannigan said.

The heat makes the fuel drier, so they combine for something called fire weather. And that determines “fuel moisture”, which is crucial for fire spread. The lower the moisture, the more likely Australian fires start and spread from lightning and human-caused ignition, a 2016 study found.

There’s been a 10 per cent long-term drying trend in Australia’s southeast and 15 per cent long-term drying trend in the country’s southwest, Watkins said. When added to a degree of warming and a generally southward shift of weather systems, that means a generally drier landscape.

Australia’s drought since late 2017 “has been at least the equal of our worst drought in 1902”, Australia’s Watkins said. “It has probably been driven by ocean temperature patterns in the Indian Ocean and the long term drying trend.”

Stuff: Climate change led here, Australian PM Scott Morrison says amid bushfire crisis

“There is no dispute in this country about the issue of climate change, globally, and its effect on global weather patterns, and that includes how that impacts in Australia,” Morrison said on Sunday.

“I have to correct the record here, I have seen a number of people suggest that somehow the government does not make this connection. The government has always made this connection and that has never been in dispute.”

He said that “climate change has impacted on the world’s weather patterns [and] has led to where we are here today to some extent, combined with many other factors, the drought being the most significant”.

 

 

 

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21 Comments

  1. Duker

     /  10th January 2020

    The science says
    “But the role of climate change in extended drought periods is difficult to discern from normal variations in weather and climate. This is particularly true in Australia, which has a much more variable climate than many other parts of the world.”
    Ben Henley Research Fellow in Climate and Water Resources, University of Melbourne
    Andrew King ARC DECRA fellow, University of Melbourne
    Anna Ukkola Research Fellow, Australian National University
    Murray Peel Senior lecturer, University of Melbourne
    Q J Wang Professor, University of Melbourne
    Rory Nathan Associate Professor Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Melbourne

    and Professor Andy Pitman of University of NSW
    …”this may not be what you expect to hear. but as far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought.
    That may not be what you read in the newspapers and sometimes hear commented, but there is no reason a priori why climate change should made the landscape more arid.

    If you look at the Bureau of Meteorology data over the whole of the last one hundred years there’s no trend in data. There is no drying trend. There’s been a trend in the last twenty years, but there’s been no trend in the last hundred years, and that’s an expression on how variable Australian rainfall climate is.
    There are in some regions but not in other regions.”

    Imagine that Australian Scientists who know what the word climate means – its not the same as weather- saying you cant make the connection. There is absolutely no connection between more CO2 in a particular year as the weather is so variable. seasons are so variable, Nature at work we can see in NZ . late Nov- early Dec was quite hot, Late dec – Early jan has been colder . Where is this CO@ effect

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  10th January 2020

      It was very hot all November in the Waikato, more like what one expects in January. It changed from one day to the next, or so it seemed. The winter was very mild.

      Some people are incapable of realising that weather and climate are not synonymous.

      Reply
  2. Duker

     /  10th January 2020

    The data of the annual rainfall anomaly across Australia , so PG cant say its cherry picking

    Rainfall cant be manipulated so easily with continuous adjustments like temperature records are and choosing the locations as ‘winners’ in the rising temps stakes.

    Yes SE Australia has a more recent ‘drying’ trend. But if that wasnt a large component of normal variation, why would increasing CO2 ‘only choose a particular region . Because its near the the larger population centres and makes good clickbait and scary weather porn ?
    I dont think so.

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  10th January 2020

      A warmer world is a wetter world. That is undisputed science. If the world is warming, the number and severity of droughts will fall, not increase.

      Reply
  3. NOEL

     /  10th January 2020

    I remember a report from these people probably 4 years ago where they were predicting the outcome for 2020. Was pretty close.

    https://www.csiro.au/en/Showcase/state-of-the-climate

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  10th January 2020

      They change their ‘state of climate every 2 years. Not so hard to predict current time periods as they are highest probability of continuing or they use vague wording
      For 2012 they skipped the ‘drought’ emphasis as they cherry pick the topics to suit the 2 year period.
      The rainfall data/map used is ‘Winter rains’ April to September – which proves what ?

      Click to access Climate-Snapshot-2012-Brochure.pdf

      Reply
  4. Duker

     /  10th January 2020

    Fake Map during the rounds , labelled as ‘Nasa Photo’ ( h/t Stats Chat)

    Actual reality – and even that is accumulated fires not all at once

    All signs of Climate Hysteria
    This one was from US ABC- worst sort of fake news

    Reply
  5. Kitty Catkin

     /  10th January 2020

    The only stories that I have seen said that most of the charges were for things like idiots ignoring fire bans and that the alleged arsonists numbered 24.

    Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  10th January 2020
    Reply
  7. Zedd

     /  10th January 2020

    whilst it is true, that Australia has always had ‘bushfire season’ & they no longer do regular backburns, to clear the scrub, as Aborigines did (fire stck) :
    I think this current event could be: some from column A & a little from Column B…
    BUT also: a good dose of C-C denial, by ‘the powers that be’, is very likely : Aust. PM & MrT etc.

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  10th January 2020

      ” they no longer do regular backburns”

      This is because of environmental protesters, many of whom have justified preventing prescriptive burns on the grounds of climate change.

      “also: a good dose of C-C denial, by ‘the powers that be’, is very likely”

      The ‘deniers’ are, very often, the ones pointing out the outcomes from the CC activists are far worse for the environment than climate change. They are very likely right on this one.

      Everyone who protested against a prescriptive burn should be charged with crimes against the environment.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  10th January 2020

      How come with climate denier Trump , US CO2 emissions are falling, I understand they are in Australia too.
      Where is there any logic .
      Over a century there is no long term drying trend in Australia , inspite of them mining more coal. Does climate change only occur randomly, like natural variation then.
      The political reporters in the Fairfax papers blamed Murdoch papers amoung others, for the climate of instability that lead to the constant rotation of PMs and then decided to undermine a brand new PM.. something about climate and drought and fires and CO2…who knows…how will play …well until the next mega flood somewhere which will again be because of climate change

      Reply
  8. lurcher1948

     /  10th January 2020

    Damn if i was ScoMo i would piss off back to Hawaii as the old farts in his party love coal and are ancient feral rightwing CLIMATE deniers, australia, thick rightwingers,no surprises there

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  12th January 2020

      If Australia stops mining and using coal tomorrow, when, to the nearest decade, can they expect bush fires to stop happening?

      Reply
  9. Pink David

     /  12th January 2020

    Some of the lies being told about this are quite farcical.

    “To give it some context, the Australian fires [are] probably one of the worst or largest animal disasters in history since the ice age,” Glassey said.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12299741

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  12th January 2020

      Hasn’t heard of the Taupo eruptions then or the transition of Australia from ice age fertility to desert?

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  12th January 2020

        I imagine that if someone did not tweet about it, he does not! He is working with a very limited set of knowledge to be polite about it.

        Reply

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