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”.

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.


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.”


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”.




Aussie bushfires continue, record temperatures

The weather here in southern New Zealand over the last few weeks has been very variable and mostly cool for summer – some will see it as crappy weather.

But it is much easier to deal with than the heat (record temperatures yesterday) and bushfires that continue to force evacuations and wreak havoc, especially in the south east in Victoria and New South Wales.

ABC News:

Fires in NSW, Victoria and SA still burning out of control

Bushfires are threatening dozens of communities in Victoria, a southerly cool change is fanning problems in NSW, and more than a third of Kangaroo Island has burned in South Australia.

The blaze that devastated Corryong was pushed back towards the town, and was also impacting Walwa, Tintaldra and Towong, where officials fear properties have been lost.

It comes after a day of searing temperatures in the region.

All-time heat records were broken at Albury Airport (41.6 degrees Celsius), and at Rutherglen (45.6 degrees Celsius).

NSW fires likened to ‘atomic bomb’, Sydney records hottest day ever

Authorities say at least 15 properties have been destroyed during a horror day — in which a new temperature record for the Sydney Basin was set — with fears of further “damage and destruction” from fires through the night.

During the worst of the day there were 13 emergency warnings across the state, while the mercury in Penrith, in Sydney’s west, reached 48.9 degrees Celsius — a new record temperature for the Sydney Basin.

NSW residents were urged to reduce their power usage after bushfires took out transmitters in the Snowy Mountains.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has received preliminary reports of at least 15 properties lost across the fire grounds — including in the towns of Batlow and Talbingo in the NSW Snowy Mountains, and in Manyana on the South Coast.

Fire and Rescue NSW said it responded to reports of 20 people trapped at the caravan park in nearby Bendalong and was able to free them after extinguishing fires in three homes in the suburb.

Heat records continue to be reset around the country

Heat records around Australia continue to tumble, with the ACT today reaching its highest-ever recorded temperature and Penrith reaching a sweltering 48.9 degrees Celsius.

We are grumbling about 15 degrees here but I’d much rather deal with that than temperatures in the forties.

Army choppers evacuate Victorians huddled on sports ground as six remain missing

Army helicopters are used to help dozens of people escape the fierce fire threat in Victoria, where more than 100 properties have been razed and towns remain at risk.

‘Our worst nightmare’: Video shows luxury resort gutted by fire

The Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island was once a luxury resort, but has now been largely reduced to a charred wreck. It is one of many sites of devastation caused by the island’s bushfire disaster.

Two people have died in fires on Kangaroo Island.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been under fire in a different way – his handling of the crisis continues to be criticised.

He returned from Hawaii last week when criticised for holidaying while Australia burns. A couple of days ago news showed him being jeered when visiting fire affected areas – twice he bizarrely forced handshakes with people who were obviously not wanting physical contact with him. Now:

‘Like being sold to at a funeral’: Morrison slammed for running political ads during fire crisis

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been lambasted for releasing videos on social media advertising his Government’s response to the country’s current bushfire crisis.

His mishandling of a crisis is a big contrast to Jacinda Ardern’s empathy and understanding.

Scott Morrison says he won’t be distracted after being abused, snubbed by bushfire survivors

The extent of Saturday’s damage won’t be known until after daylight arrives today in Australia.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said the true extent of the damage would not be known until daylight on Sunday.

“Southerly winds have come through, [and there are] a lot of reports of property loss. They won’t know the full extent until tomorrow (Sunday),” he said.

“Predicted weather conditions lived up to prediction; it’s been awful. We’ve seen fires down in the Snowy Mountains that got so big they were putting lightning out 20 to 30 kilometres ahead of the main fire.”

A cold front has moved through but that was the cause of worsening conditions yesterday.

What makes a horror fire danger day?

The extent of the fires:

Blog bullshit and bushfires

There’s been a lot of bullshit flying around here lately, but the acts of terrorism in Paris, Lebanon and Kenya put that into some perspective.

And I got an email not long ago, from Western Australia, that also puts real issues versus petty online fights into perspective.

Things got pretty sketchy here yesterday. We lost everything on 2 of the 3 farms we’re on here. Fortunately the home farm is the one left untouched.  Lost my phone but we’re in town today, hoping to get another one sorted.

Spent 36 hours straight building fire breaks before hand to try and limit damage. The fire had been burning in scrub for 3 days. We knew weather conditions were going to be bad yesterday so did everything to try and contain. I was driving a plough in the paddock when it jumped through and overwhelmed us.

From that farm probably 40km to the next farm and we only just managed to get back to there and move the gear to safety before it started burning. So left for home then.

Home farm was out of the way of immediate danger until a forecast wind shift bought it within a km of it. Fortunately at home we were reasonably protected because all around the houses had been harvested and was very clear.  Also had to possible exits if it came down to it.

Unstoppable is right the state clear a 100 metre break and we probably had the best part of 150 metres with a road in between and it jumped that easily. If we had waited any longer to leave would have been very dangerous.

These fires were touched on briefly on television news tonight but gave no concept of the size and danger of the fires. One report was that 135,000 hectares were burnt.

Killer firestorm: Six people feared dead in fires near Esperance

Four people have been killed and at least 300 evacuated in “catastrophic and unstoppable” bushfires raging out of control near Esperance on WA’s South Coast and there are fears the death toll could rise.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson said the two men and two women killed were in two cars.

One man was alone in his car and the three others were in a separate vehicle.

Mr Gregson said the Esperance fire conditions were “catastrophic and unstoppable”.

At a community meeting in Esperance this morning, Shire President Victoria Brown said the conditions created “the day from hell” and the town was shellshocked.

More bad weather is expected on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

So some petty numpties online don’t seem much of a problem in comparison. A bit of blog bullshit seems stupid compared to real problems many people have to face.