.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

It's climate change on top of drought, heat and wind, not arson, that's behind Australia's fires

Sou | 12:43 PM Go to the first of 36 comments. Add a comment
Know what? If I see another know-nothing denier try to claim "it's not climate change it's arson" or "backburning" or "not enough prescribed burns" or "it's not happening", I'll scream.

I was going to deal quickly with "it's arson", then move onto prescribed or controlled burns. However, I'll now devote this article just to the arson furphy, because the false meme is appearing all over the place, even being insinuated in mainstream media. Some people are suggesting it's an organised disinformation campaign. I don't know about that, but it is being fanned by the usual crowd of deniers, including many from the USA and other places outside Australia. [Edit: I've added a tweet below, which expresses my disdain for the people spreading this meme.]


Let me be clear. Arson is not the reason for the catastrophic fires this summer. There has always been arson but never a fire season as bad as this one. These major fires are there because the bush is so dry and because it's been so hot. Fires need ample fuel, wind and an ignition. The fuel is ample, because even though there's not been much growth in vegetation because of the drought, what's there is dry and easily ignited. There've been enough windy days to fan the flames and spread the fires further. And there's been ignition, obviously. Mostly (in the case of the major fires), the ignition has been lightning.


Most major bushfires in Australia are started by lightning


Most major bushfires (forest fires) in Australia are ignited by lightning. They typically start in bushland that is difficult to access.

At a recent community meeting we were told the fires around here in north eastern Victoria were ignited by lightning. I saw some of the lightning.

The fire in Mallacoota was also reportedly started by lightning.

The huge Gospers Mountain fire in Wollemi National Park in NSW was started by lightning.

---------------
Update - there's more:

-------------

On 8 January 2003 there were 87 fires ignited by lightning, eight of which persisted and led to the with huge Alpine fires that year.

Lightning fires are a risk in summer in south eastern Australia. We can get lightning at any time of the year. In winter, which is our wet season, fires don't normally take hold. In winter, lightning is usually accompanied by rain and, in any case, the temperature is low and the bush is not as dry so fires don't spread far.

Summer is our dry season. Lightning storms can pass through with very little or no rain. Not every lightning strike will cause a fire. It depends on what's been struck. However, it only takes one tree catching fire and it will spread quickly if conditions are right.

This summer has seen the hottest weather ever and much of south eastern Australia is very dry, with large parts having been in drought for some years. Conditions for wildfires have been almost perfect. This has resulted in a huge increase in the number of fires in NSW. There has also been an enormous area burnt in eastern Victoria though the chart (see below) from GFED to 3 January 2020 doesn't reflect this. (It shows number of fires not area burnt.)


The area burnt in Victoria in 2003 (>1.3 million ha or 3.2m acres) can be seen here, and the area burnt in 2006 (~1.2 million ha or 3m acres) is shown here. So far this year, it's estimated the fires in Victoria have burnt more than 1.2 million hectares.  The fires in Australia this season are estimated to have burnt at least 8.4 million hectares including 4.9 million ha in NSW.

Bushfires also create their own weather, and can even make lightning as described in an article by the Bureau of Meteorology:



Let me stress again, most of these large fires this summer were ignited by lightning. They have been exacerbated by climate change. Regardless, no matter what the source of ignition, whether natural, accidental, careless, reckless or deliberate, if conditions (dryness, heat and wind) had not been what they are, there would not have been anything like the catastrophe the world has seen unfolding in Australia.

Another thing worth considering is that sources of ignition are unlikely to have changed much over time. On the other hand, fire response has improved out of sight over the years, with huge advances in communications, fire-fighting technology and equipment, training and response management. If not for climate change making bad conditions worse, these fires would not have been anything like they are.

Why the deflection from deniers?


I don't know why some people are promoting the "it's arson" meme. Is it they can cope with the idea that people are capable of burning Australia by lighting a match but can't cope with the idea that people are capable of changing the climate by burning fossil fuels? Who knows.

I'm not saying there are not people who deliberately light fires. There are. There are also people who accidentally cause fires. When caught, all such people are subject to heavy penalties. In my home state, a person who intentionally or recklessly causes a bushfire can be locked away for up to 15 years (in NSW it's up to 21 years). A person caught lighting a fire that causes death can be sent to jail for up to 25 years.

Human activity can cause fires. Every year there could be hundreds of fires ignited by people, whether deliberately or inadvertently. Arsonists, people who deliberately light fires for whatever reason, exist and have probably always existed. They might want to collect insurance on a failed business or because they've overstretched their mortgage. They might be after revenge against someone so set their home or car alight. A few people just like fire, and set them in urban, peri-urban or, occasionally, rural areas. There have been homes burnt after arsonists lit fires.

There are fires caused accidentally by human activity. There were scores of lives lost in the East Kilmore fires after powerlines sparked a fire in strong winds on a catastrophic fire danger day. A recent fire that burnt Binna Burra Lodge in a precious area in Lamington National Park in Queensland has been attributed to a cigarette butt dropped by teenagers. The powerline fire and the cigarette fire wouldn't have taken hold or caused so much damage if conditions had not been so extreme.




Most fires lit deliberately or accidentally by people are quickly contained


Few people would hike into virtually inaccessible areas to deliberately start a major bushfire. They'd have to be suicidal as well as pyromaniacal. Most people who deliberately light fires do so near areas of population, and they are generally grass fires that are extinguished fairly quickly. Not always, but mostly. A 2006 report states (my emphasis):
Human action - most deliberate bushfires occur within or near the most densely populated regions of Australia. Consequently, the majority of deliberate fires occur along the coastal fringe, where climatic conditions are generally milder, and the period of adverse bushfire weather is shorter. Although they have the potential to burn out of control and cause immense damage, overall, the majority of deliberately lit fires are small in area (less than one to two hectares)
Analysis of a number of different data sources indicates that the highest rates of recorded deliberately lit fires during adverse bushfire weather occur in areas, regions or jurisdictions with highest rates of recorded deliberate fires generally.
A key question for bushfire arson prevention is whether there is a greater risk of deliberate fire lighting during periods of extreme weather conditions. This is a difficult question to answer with any degree of accuracy, as many fires are suspicious but not confirmed as arson incidents, and the intention of those who light fires is rarely known. A range of data shows that as the fire danger rating increases, recorded deliberate fires account for a smaller proportion of all bushfires. The increased risk of accidental and natural fires under more adverse conditions and the absence of definitive data on causal factors means that there is a lack of conclusive evidence to indicate a systematic increase in deliberate firesetting during these peak periods of risk.

Use and abuse of statistics


Although by far the majority of "it's arson" claims are unsubstantiated (and nonsense), I've seen people quote and misquote statistics from various sources, including some people who should know better. Let's have a look.

---------------------------------
Update - Here is information on the latest stats from Victoria, after enquiries made by Josh Butler:
---------------------
Below is a chart showing arson offenses recorded, from the Crime Statistics Agency (Victorian Government). The bushfire arson is the bottom line (light grey). It peaks in the summer season, but that would probably be in part because fires lit in summer attract attention whereas fires lit at other times of the year go out quickly and/or don't spread. (As always, click to enlarge.)


In the year ending 30 September 2016, "there were 46 unique offenders apprehended by police for bushfire offences. Of these offenders, more than half (n=26) were known to police for prior offending before committing their bushfire offence, and 16 had previously committed an arson or criminal damage offence before causing a bushfire. Bushfire offenders were predominantly male, making up 91.3 per cent (n=42) of all offenders, and 56.5 per cent (n=26) were aged between 10 and 19, with the mean age of 23.6."

This number represents around 0.0074% of the population of Victoria at the time (6.2 million). There would also have been suspicious incidents where no-one was charged with an offense.

In NSW it's been reported that 24 people have been charged with deliberately lighting bushfires this fire season. In addition, action has been taken against 53 people "for failing to comply with a total fire ban and against 47 people for discarding a lighted cigarette or match on land."

There are suggestions a fire at Jindabyne last Friday may have been deliberately lit.

The report said that none of the fires currently on the south coast of NSW were related to those charges.

Although it was 24 people who've been charged with lighting fires, that SMH report said a total of 183 people had legal action taken against them, which might be the source of the mysterious "200 arsonists" that keep popping up. I don't know what the missing numbers relate to (24+53+47=124), it could be that some people were charged with more than one offense. Edit: It's been pointed out my speculation makes no sense and it doesn't. I'll try again. This report says "legal action" includes cautions, not just charges, so the missing numbers could be people cautioned not charged.

Another point worth making is to reiterate that most fires lit by people occur near populated areas, unlike the major fires currently in Victoria and NSW, which started in remote bushland. The word "bushfire" is often applied to mean any fire, including grass fires. I prefer to reserve the term bushfire to a fire in the bush (a forest). Grass fires are quite different. They travel much faster than bushfires but can also be contained more easily. (In remote areas of the outback, grassfires and desert scrub fires will usually be left to burn themselves out.)


More to come


There is a lot more that could be and is being written about this year's fire season. There will be inquiries and maybe a Royal Commission or two. I'll possibly write more myself. (I'm thinking about an article to dispel another lie that's being pushed. Some deniers are blaming hazard reduction so as to avoid confronting how badly we're changing the climate. Maybe I'll get to that later.)


Note: Where I live there's a Watch and Act in effect. That's one step up from Advice and one step down from Evacuate Now. Our town, which should be full of tourists, feels strangely quiet. Visitors have left and so have a lot of residents. It's not just the fire risk, it's also the smoke which has prompted people to leave. We can avoid the fire risk by driving to a safe town 90 km or more distant. It's not as easy to avoid the smoke because those same towns are also affected by smoke.

References and further reading


Arson in NSW - an article from January 1990 from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (Arson is nothing new!)

Spotlight: Arson Offences - Crime Statistics Agency, Victoria, 2016

Bushfire weather - Bureau of Meteorology, Australia

When bushfires make their own weather - Bureau of Meteorology, Australia, January 2018

Bots and trolls spread false arson claims in Australian fires ‘disinformation campaign’ - article by Christopher Knaus at The Guardian, 7 January 2020

Fires misinformation being spread through social media - ABC News, 8 January 2020

Debunked Australian Bushfire Conspiracy Theories Were Pushed by Alex Jones, Murdoch Media - By Justin Mikulka at DeSmogBlog, Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Ducat, Lauren, Troy McEwan, and James RP Ogloff. "Comparing the characteristics of firesetting and non-firesetting offenders: are firesetters a special case?." The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology 24, no. 5 (2013): 549-569. https://doi.org/10.1080/14789949.2013.821514 (pdf here)

2019-20 Australian bushfire season - MODIS data on the recent fires with historical comparisons, from the Global Fire Emissions Database. (h/t Graham Readfearn)

Record-breaking 4.9m hectares of land burned in NSW this bushfire season - article by Naaman Zhou at The Guardian, 7 January 2009

Fires in Victoria destroy estimated 300 homes, former police chief to lead Bushfire Recovery Victoria - By Kevin Nguyen and Ariel Bogle at ABC News, 7 January 2019

Bushfires lit deliberately during adverse bushfire weather - Bushfire Arson Bulletin, Australian Institute of Criminology, December 2006

Patterns in bushfire arson - Bushfire Arson Bulletin, Australian Institute of Criminology, November 2009

Past bushfires - A chronology of major bushfires in Victoria from 2013 back to 1851 - Forest Fire Management, Victoria

Bushfire - Alpine Region and north-eastern Victoria - Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, January 2003

Fire Scars in Australia’s Simpson Desert - NASA Earth Observatory, November 2002

120 years of Australian rainfall - Bureau of Meteorology interactive poster online

HotWhopper






36 comments:

  1. Hi Sou,

    I’d suggest you don’t go anywhere near WUWT.

    The bullshit has been flowing thick and fast over there. They’ve pulled out the “big guns”, Marohasy, Eschenbach, Steele, Monckton, reposts from Nova, and even wonky Worrell have all had their go at blaming everything on the greens etc.

    I have never, in my entire life, seen so much crap, misinformation and outright lies published about these fires and what has transpired over the last six months.

    And the half dozen or so faithful Watts and Worrell have left are lapping it up.

    Watts really should be ashamed about what he is trying to pass off as science.

    Truly tragic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the summary, SPM.

      You're spot on. I did go and have a peep. I agree, it was too stupid and desperate (and uninformed) to bother with - for this article at least. Eschenbach (and I think Monckton) putting up charts of all Australia, for heaven's sake, arguing the fires can't have been related to climate change because it was too wet a few years ago, or some such nonsense.

      WUWT is only for conspiracy nutters. It's not a climate blog.

      Delete
    2. Hi Sou,

      And they're even defending Kelly!!!!

      Anyway here's an interesting article on our inspirational leader SmoKo.

      https://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/nick-feik/2020/07/2020/1578372000/national-disaster

      Regards

      Delete
  2. "I don't know why some people are promoting the "it's arson" meme."

    I do Sou. Its a strawman that hinges on using the weasel word "cause" instead of ignite; if they're all caused by arsonsists, how can so-called GW be the cause. Its a variation of ...claims fires caused by GW, but fires have been around forever.

    Change cause to ignite and the absurdity of the strawman is plain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could be, Tony. It probably reflects their view of themselves and the world at large.

      They can envisage a person learning how to strike a match (barely). They can't envisage a society that's so complex and advanced (regressed?) where there's so much waste product being offloaded to the air that it's changing the climate.

      A number of wacky deniers have told me they would like to go back to the Jurassic. Primitive is probably all they understand :(

      Delete
    2. Option a. Admit they have been leaders of a movement that has ruined the lives of billions of people in generations to come.

      Option b. Come out with more of the same old shit.

      Delete
    3. Yes, Andy. The deniers are stuck and don't have the gumption to admit they've been wrong for the past 10, 20, 30 years or however long ago it was they decided to take up climate conspiracy theorising for a hobby. Some of them still insist there's an ice age coming any day now.

      Delete
    4. The "it's arson" meme is very much like dry lightning - its promoters ignite a fury in a primed substrate, and the real agents responsible are hidden whilst a patsy is wheeled out to cop the blame...

      Delete
  3. Climate change is a threat multiplier.
    Stay safe Sou.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for this intelligently compiled and referenced post, Sou. I've been trying to parry a few comments on Twitter about this and I just haven't had the energy to put together such a thorough resource - this will come in handy.

    On the subject of the Greens being responsible, the Fire and Rescue NSW Station 428 Queanbeyan made it explicitly clear on their Facebook page that this is rubbish:

    https://www.ladbible.com/news/news-fire-brigade-dispels-the-rumour-that-greens-are-to-blame-for-bushfires-20200105?

    The ABC's PM also gave this some consideration this afternoon. They started off with some farmers who were adamant that it was the lack of hazard reduction burning that was the cause:

    https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/vic-farmers-bushfire-loss-result-lack-land-management-practices/11853240

    and I shuddered at the time given to 'balance.' I know not only from the work of professional scientific colleagues and relatives that this is an over-simplification of the subject, but from two decades of my own experience. The ABC did provide a counter though:

    https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/hazard-reduction-burning-is-not-a-panacea-to-bushfire-risk/11853280

    David Lindenmayer did a good job summarising the science, and repeated what I've been trying to tell numpties on Twitter: preventative burning - whether back burning or hazard reduction - is not a panacea, and it only works in the very short term. It's a blunt tool, effective in a certain confluence of circumstances, but it doesn't last long, it promotes pyrogenic and pyrophilic pyrophyte communities, and it can harm biodiversity if over-practiced. And yes, I know and respect that Indigenous Australians used fire-stick technology, and they did a great job in establishing a patchwork of ecosystem diversity, but they very likely did increase the overall pyrogenic character of much Australian vegetation in the process. During the Holocene that was slowly transitioning toward another glacial maximum that might not have been a problem, but in a world that has been so rapidly warmed by human fossil CO₂ emissions, what has been wonderful historically may not be feasible going forward, except in a contrained set of circumstances.

    There is no easy fix to climate change, and fire in the landscape is only one of many, many sequelæ with which we are gong to have to deal...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BJ, your insights and those references are very helpful. I've long had mixed feelings about hazard reduction burns when thinking about advantages vs disadvantages especially re ecological considerations (also re human health - thick smoke for days on end is not good for the lungs).

      These days a more nuanced approach is taken in some places, which is good, so some of my concerns have moderated. There is an increasing amount of scientific research on the topic (which gave mixed results in the past) has helped and is, I believe, being put to good use by the fire management people, here in Victoria anyway. I hope the research continues. We're going to need it for the sake of people and all the invaluable flora and fauna in the bush.

      Delete
  5. I've been adding bits and pieces to the article above, including more references as they come to light (it's not by any means a comprehensive list). Also
    a tweet that expresses what I think of the "it's arson" disinformers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Australian Institute of Criminology did an extensive analysis of bushfire data collected by Australian fire agencies. They found
    6% Natural causes(eg lightning)
    50% Suspicious or deliberate
    35% Accidental
    But caution that 40% could not have a cause assigned by an agency.
    https://aic.gov.au/publications/bfab/bfab051

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't get caught up in the number of fires. Focus on the nature of the fire.

      I cannot imagine what type of evil demon in you prompted you to make that misleading comment. Surely you read and digested the article above it.

      I hope you're not one of the ill-intentioned disinformers who are trying to say going into the bush is really safe even in code red situations, provided you don't light a fire. That is very wrong and an extremely dangerous message to send.

      The thing is, these fires in NSW and Victoria were from your "6%" and so far have burnt at least 4.9 million hectares in NSW and at least 1.2 million hectares in Victoria. That's a combined area of 6.1 m ha in NSW and Victoria alone (23,500 sq miles or bigger than the area of West Virginia). It's likely they've killed many millions of our native animals, not including all the insects also killed, and probably made some extinct.

      Contrast that with your selective stats. Most deliberate and accidental fires are very small and get put out very quickly. They are usually started close to population centres. (The reference in my article above shows most are less than 2 hectares in area before burning out or being extinguished.)

      There's more. The definition of "bushfire" has to be very broad used in that article you quoted from. Maybe they mean any fire in vegetation. It clearly doesn't mean the major fires in the bush like we have at the moment. (The "bush" being the large forests in Australia.)

      There always have been and always will be fires deliberately lit or caused by accident. Already they make up an almost insignificant proportion of area burnt compared to real bushfires. With climate change that percentage will fall even further.

      Delete
    2. There was a report on BBC Radio this morning about the causes of the current fires in Australia. That stated in some states none were set deliberately, in others one or two were. The overwhelming majority were as a result of lightning strikes.

      Delete
    3. Climate science deniers are monstrously evil people. Are you one of those?

      Delete
  7. I find myself wondering where all these new arsonists have come from. On past record of Eric and his mates, its something to do with windmills or Moslems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One tweetbot was spamming Twitter with the notion it was climate cultists and greenies. I figured this was what it meant:

      https://twitter.com/Sou_HotWhopper/status/1215189382321164288?s=20

      Delete
  8. https://www.wunc.org/post/pentagon-says-wildfires-driven-climate-change-are-growing-national-security-threat

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Michael Mann speaks to Ali Velshi about the Australian fires and climate change:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJkFuRzJNoQ

    Scott Morrison gets a sideways swipe...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post, Sou.

    I was wondering if you would have anything more to say about the other denier trope making the rounds: "the greenies won't allow hazard reduction". I did see the comments upthread from Bernard J which were helpful.

    I stumbled upon this Daily Mail article about a man in Victoria who did his own prescribed burn on his own property (or was it on surrounding property?) and was fined a hefty sum. He claims his actions saved him from the Black Saturday fires.
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7678955/Black-Saturday-survivor-fined-cutting-trees-supports-hazard-reduction.html

    Have you or Bernard heard about this man's situation? What rules and regs govern personal hazard reduction on one's own property?

    Thanks, David Kirtley

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In current conditions is that personal hazard reduction, or is it endangering the community?

      Delete
    2. It's BS, David. Just another baseless attack against "greens" of the type that circulates every time there's a fire.

      I came across this article, but I investigated it way back when and the story is even worse than that. I managed to dig up some of what I found back then. Short story, Mitchell Shire was in the right and Sheahan was in the wrong, and the 2009 fires were so fierce that nothing would save any home except pure luck of the wind and flames. (Same with Ash Wednesday fires and the current ones.)

      From one article:
      These were not just any trees- the Sheahans bulldozed 1.2 Ha Old Growth eucalyptus forest that was part of an environmental overlay on their property. Their property is around 40 Ha adjoining State forest, so they bulldozed around 3% of their property. The Age story fails to disclose the significance of the felled forest and fails to give an accurate account of the extent of the logging.

      When “Today Tonight” covered this story, they raised the possibility that the reasons for the clearing were more than just fire prevention. The Sheahan’s keep horses, and it is possible that the reason for the scale of the clearing was their need to create a cleared paddock for their horses. (The property is hilly and the cleared area is one of the flatter areas of the property).

      The Age reporters simply accepted the Sheahan’s reason for the clearing and failed to investigate other reasons that may have explained the large scale of the clearing.


      Here's the link to the Minutes of the Mitchell Shire (item 9.6 on page 12174) that I found back then.

      It's probably fair to say that if we had razed all national parks and chopped down all the trees, these fires would never have started. That's what the Liam Sheahans and WUWT-ers want to do. (One wonders why the man didn't build his house in the middle of Antarctica, or Bourke St Melbourne. And why, when he craves publicity so badly, he couldn't find a less vandalistic way of getting it.)

      Delete
    3. Andy, we are big here on making our properties defensible against fire. With some fires it's not possible. Below are links to some CFA (Country Fire Authority) pages and brochures. You can get fined for not maintaining your property, just as you can get fined for chopping down trees illegally (particularly protected old growth forest, without permission).


      Plan & Prepare for Fires
      - click the publications page for lots of brochures.

      And another one about landscaping your home.

      Delete
    4. Thanks Sou for the info. I thought there might be more to the story than what the Daily Mail had to say on it.

      Stay safe!

      Delete
    5. I live in a forested valley surrounded by extreme fire-risk bush. I do what I can on my own property to minimise the risk to my own house and to keep open the escape routes for myself and my neighbours, whilst doing as little damage as possible to the high biodiversity values of the habitat here.

      I would NEVER countenance disregarding restrictions on conducting burns. It's idiocy to contemplate it, let alone to do it. There are reasons that restrictions are put in place, and there's no excuse for personal selfishness against the risk to thousands of others. I could well "save my place" by doing illegal back burning, but if I burned a thousand hectares around me to do it, it's not worth it. That guy was lucky that his own burn didn't directly lead to the deaths of others. That it didn't isn't justification for him doing so. He should do management within the restrictions of safety to do so, and if there isn't sufficient time for this anymore (which there isn't in my own area...) then the problem lies with people insisting on not mitigating carbon emissions and further driving the planet to extreme climate, rather than with agencies limiting the conduct of risky behaviour. At some point you have to accept that our actions have precluded our personal liberty to do business-as-usual to achieve whatever we please, and that we have to adapt to the harm we've wrought: he should have instead insured his property and formulated an effective fire-response plan, on top of doing whatever management burning is safe and justifiable.

      Sou's already linked to additional material indicating that greenies aren't controlling the opportunity to do hazard reduction burning - which is of restricted benefit anyway. As long as people keep using these denialist memes to avoid the fossil-carbon elephant in the room, the problem will grow worse and worse and no amount of back burning will make them safe... until we've desertified the nation...

      Delete
    6. The problem I was thinking of was the risk that a controlled burn can become an out of control fire. Who gets to decide who is competent to do it and who is not? Brexit in the UK has me convinced that at least 52% of the population here should not be allowed to play with matches.

      Delete
    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    8. Andy, you don't see many paddocks burnt these days in Victoria. (It used to be a bit more common long ago, but has been replaced by minimum tillage etc.)

      You may occasionally see a burnoff on private land e.g. to get rid of blackberry infestations, which grow very thick here. It's a long time since I've seen anything like this. Occasionally I'll see a bonfire (no incinerator, not enclosed, but monitored).

      To burn like that you're asked to register and there are days (and locations) when/where it's not permitted at all.


      https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/burning-off

      We can have barbecues and burn stuff in incinerators (as opposed to bonfires or burning areas of land), but again, there are days/locations where that's not permitted.

      Other controlled burns are done by CFA (private land) or government workers (public land), by accredited persons.

      There is always the risk of a controlled burn getting out of control. It happens. A lot of CFA volunteers are also farmers, so they not only understand what weather can do, they're trained in fire management.

      I agree with you that there are people who shouldn't be let near a match. I don't think there are many wildfires caused by controlled burns but when it happens it can be bad, especially if they are near populated areas.

      [Edited with correction. I thought we needed a permit when it's just a notification that's asked for. I think in some instances or local council areas permits are required.]

      Delete
    9. In my corner a permit is required from about the middle of spring to the middle of autumn for any fire over a cubic metre in size. To be granted a permit a representative of the local fire brigade has to come to the property and assess the material to be burned, and the area surrounding it. Permits are only good for nominated dates, and are superseded by fire bans.

      When things go wrong with burning off it's nearly always because some idiot ignored the rules.

      Delete
  12. I've been saying for weeks that the Australian fire storms will lead to extinctions extinctions. Now the first assessments are indicating exactly this:

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/leaked-report-lays-bare-environmental-devastation-of-victorian-fires-20200110-p53qep.html

    https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/news-federal-budget/2020/01/12/bushfires-health-care-funding/

    Victoria seriously needs to reconsider the way it does forestry. So much of the forest estate has been devastated that what most of what remains needs to be preserved for habitat. Instead, the industry wants to open up remaining old growth to allow them to continue with business as usual...

    This is complete lunacy.

    Maintaining one industry like this at the expense of further driving much of the Victorian biodiversity to extinction is untenable. Forestry can be resumed once regrowth is sufficient: extinction can never be reversed. If society has to pay the forestry industry for lost work then so be it - it's far beyond time that we internalise the costs of human-caused climate change rather than externalising the accounting to the ecology of the planet.

    This is a stance that should have been anticipated and agreed to before the nation's forests were devastated. Australians all need to agree to lines in the sand (or ash...) beyond which we recognise that we cannot continue further destruction. We need to do it now, today, othewise in twenty years time the media will be full of stories of the extinctions of a grim litany of loved as well as not-so-well recognised species.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The latest phenomenon is huge dust storms: presumably those arsonists are now going out with large fans and whipping the dust up.

    ReplyDelete

Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.