“Gagging climate change experts from speaking in the middle of a bushfire disaster is a new low from this government.”

So said Australian Member of Parliament David Shoebridge after bureaucrats attending a climate planning and adaptation conference had been advised not to discuss the relationship between climate change and Australia’s bushfire crisis, the Guardian reports.

Yes, there’s more news of wildfires on the rampage, bringing fear and destruction, made worse by many things including climate change. But the latest isn’t from California; it’s happening in Australia and especially hard hit is the territory of New South Wales. Yes, a lot of things are making wildfire/bushfire worse in California/Australia. Nobody denies that. One of those things is climate change. Those who deny that, are climate deniers.


Fires rage with dry fuel, and dryness is governed by two weather-related factors: precipitation and temperature. The more precipitation, the wetter the potential fuels. The higher the temperature, the more dry they get. When high temperature and low precipitation combine, they make high-risk fire weather.

When it comes to rainfall totals, New South Wales (NSW) has been through some dry years recently, especially this year (yearly averages, year-to-date for 2019):

Drought conditions are now severe, and that’s one of the things making the bushfire crisis so bad. But precipitation alone isn’t the whole story, and there’s no real trend in precipitation anyway. Temperature, however, has shown a distinct trend, especially daytime high temperatures (yearly averages, year-to-date for 2019):

Not only have the last three years been hotter than NSW has endured before, it’s part of an ongoing trend that tells of even worse to come.

Rising temperature is a factor in Australia’s wildfire crisis. It’s not the only factor, there are many, including all the ones that climate deniers will tell you about when they blame the wildfire/bushfire crisis on anything but climate change. But however many contributing factors there may be, climate change is one of them because temperature is on the rise and temperature affects fuel dryness. Those who deny that, deny the peer-reviewed literature, deny the data, deny the laws of physics.

Those who deny the significant link between climate change and wildfire/bushfire, are climate deniers.


Thanks to Tor Bejnar, Christopher Hawkshaw, Dominik Lenne, and John Nielsen-Gammon for kind donations to the blog. If you’d like to help, please visit the donation link below.


This blog is made possible by readers like you; join others by donating at My Wee Dragon.


Advertisement

18 responses to ““Gagging climate change experts from speaking in the middle of a bushfire disaster is a new low from this government.”

  1. Those climate science deniers who try to refute established physical laws are vile, crude, and literally uncivilized.

  2. Here’s my partner and I driving out of the fire.

    We had a tiny window of time before trees starting falling, they pulled the firefighting strike teams (big crews with multiple vehicles) out as it was too dangerous and we ran… the fire was at a new level of catastrophic, amped up by climate change. We can’t stop the fires, nor should we but like climate change we can and should do our best to manage them and mitigate the damage. We must look to both mitigation (reduced emissions by changing how we live and conduct our lives) and adaption ( funding for and paying the rural fires services) or this will get worse. There is no terrorist threat in the world that could have done this level of damage, there has NEVER been an armed incursion on Australian soil that has done this level of damage.

    Me ? I blame the voters who keep electing the politicas who refuse to mitigate and adapt, the politicians people are electing have SAID they won’t do anything, this article is proof of that. I understand there are a whole lot fo things we can do, how we go about it and how they are done that vary depending on your political leaning but to do nothing and to deny it’s much of a problem ? Only the voters can solve that. Here in Australia the cabal that is the ALP and LNP have led us here. I understand at an international level our impact will be minimal but there is a lot we can do, electrified transport and electricity with renewable energy (mitigation), moving and hardening infrastructure eg the big town near me is down to 4 days if water because all the power poles for the umping station are burnt to the ground ! Fund and resource the RFS (Rural Fire Service) and pay them, treat them with the respect now afforded defense force personnel. My partner has faced more trauma and near death experiences then nearly all the members of the Austrian Defense forces (except those on active service) and isn’t paid and she is 1 of 1000s.. Do NOT vote for the ALP, LNP or ONP. I blame those who do. The Greens aren’t perfect but they at least take this seriously, the rest of politicians use more of the same stupid thinking that got us here. This is beyond the states and needs a national response.

    After this breakfast, I am off to spend the day trying to rebuild and repair the infrastructure we lost, while I listen to 100 yr old forest giants falling regularly, as they succumb to the fire damage, to the gun shots from locals putting down distressed animals both livestock, pets and native animals. There is no food for 100 miles for native animal etc… while my partner spends an *unpaid* 12 Hrs every second day as the Deputy Captain of her local rural fires service, helping save the lives and property of others, while dealing with the mental trauma of seeing friends and neighbors lives destroyed.

    • Good God, that’s a vision of hell. Best wishes to your partner and all the firies. Yes, the pollies here are craven on climate change, but the ultimate responsibility lies with us.

    • I’m appalled and saddened by your experiences. Thanks for sharing them, however; people need to know.

    • Really Thanks for sharing this video with us. It was very useful to educate my daughter and I think she finally gets it. She almost immediately wanted to begin organising a survival plan and made a list of the things we needed and even cleaned the dust off things like the animal travel cages….
      I hope everything goes more smoothly (as smoothly ?) for you and yours.
      C.

    • That is a harrowing ride.
      And it’s not going to be the last, the extended forecast is dire.
      No rain on the horizon except for possible storms which will be hit or miss, and aren’t forecast to produce much rain at the southern end of the trough.
      Thursday 21st looks promising, but most forecasts have weakened closer to the date this spring.

      The extent of the fires is without parallel in the history of the region, I think. 1915 [an intense El Nino and a record dry year regionally, not by much] may approach it.
      Any fire currently burning in the top end of the Clarence has the potential to run through much of the remaining forest and rainforest in that basin and into the Richmond Valley.
      It’s an apocalypse ongoing.
      We are going to need more of the army, unsuited to the work as they are alleged to be.
      If Morrison and his headless heroes are not in the bunker with the fire chiefs now, and ordering more air tankers, then I absolutely despair. His party’s myth and vanity is again more important than the earth.

    • A few of my PhD fieldwork sites were in that area. Rainforest, which by definition doesn’t burn like this, not in the previous climate paradigm. Rainforest species are extremely fire sensitive and it takes hundres of non-fired years for the mature associations to develop. If they’re burned they are replaced by sclerophyll, unless climate during regeneration is conducive to the rainforest species getting toes in and outcompeting the pyrophilic species.

      Most of my site were burned, and probably to a far greater severity than they’ve expereinced for centuries. The (endangered) genus I studied is in full breeding and foraging/dispersing mode, and they’d have been cremated in these fires. I weep…

      Scott Morrison and Michael McCormac and Barnaby Joyce might exclaim that “now is not the time to talk about climate change” but the fact is that these people have NEVER talked about climate change except to deny it, dismiss it, dessemble about the fact of it, destroy previous efforts to mitigate it, and to delay as much as they can any proper discussion of it. The Australian Liberal and National parties are the parties of climate destruction and they need to be forever associated with this truth, and to be foever held accountable for their ideology that has wrought decades of inaction on the nation and indeed on the world.

    • “Me ? I blame the voters who keep electing the politicas who refuse to mitigate and adapt, the politicians people are electing have SAID they won’t do anything, this article is proof of that. ”
      I blame the voters too. The voters are dumb enough to fall for the false narrative peddled by the conservative parties and our mainstream media.

  3. As with every aspect of the climate emergency the political tactics of the deniers and obstructors in Australia is vile. “Don’t politicise a ‘natural’ disaster by talking about climate change” they say – whilst hypocritically using it to attack environmentalists (falsely) for preventing hazard reduction burning. As conditions get drier and as temperatures rise the windows of opportunity to do so get narrower – and concern for such fires getting out of control amongst fire management experts has risen, legitimately.

    Not the time or place to talk about these issues they say – but these are people for whom there is never a time and place to talk about climate change impacts on drought and fire; to do so would be an admission that there is a real connection and that their tossing all those expert reports in the bin without reading them was dangerously irresponsible and negligent.

    • We get the same thing here, with hurricanes as well as wildfire. For those in denial, there is no good time to talk honestly about the problems we face. But we all know what happens when problems are ignored.

  4. Holy crap on a cracker, T-rev. That looks like you were on a quest to destroy The One Ring. Unfortunately, it will probably take something akin to destroying The One Ring to wrestle power away from the politicians that currently control things.

  5. Well yes I’d have to agree with all of you. My family here were affected by the Pinery Fire a couple of years back and when I was younger the Ash Wednesday Bushfire burned up to the road opposite my school. some of my friends lost their houses and our farm lost most of its sheds and outbuildings. I ended up with a badly burned hand when, after being picked up from school we got out of the car to reconnoitre the road past a fallen tree and the ground gave way due to a root having burnt out. I fell forward and my hand disappeared into hot ash up to my wrist. The surface of the ash was cool but red hot, still below. Nothing to be done but touch a wet flannel and keep it elevated against the cool stone wall of my bedroom all night. There was no chance of getting any sort of treatment for something so minor when there was disaster everywhere around.
    That is my cautionary tale about the unexpected dangers after the fires have passed.
    At the school beforehand as the fire was passing we were all ‘evacuated’ to the library which was damn fine by me because I almost lived there anyway. Most other students and teachers were greatly distressed and there were lots of tears and panicking. My friend Bjorn (yes Bjorn is a very Australian name for the 70s) and I got screamed at by some educator because we snuck out to one of the external courtyards to watch the sky and see what we could of what it was really like without the hysterics. Bjorn assured me it was just like the movie ‘When Worlds Collide’. I didn’t admit that I had never heard of it but agreed wholeheartedly. It was obviously true.
    I already knew about the Greenhouse Effect but I can’t remember whether I made the connection with this fire. Probably not as there had been another Ash Wednesday fire 3 years beforehand so obviously they just happened all the time was what we got told. There are plenty of boomers still trying to tell us all that and that Climate Chaos is nothing to be concerned about. So much is this a problem that there have been several renewable energy projects cancelled because the wind turbines were surely going to drive these wise elders to insanity and fits of conniptions. My council area is an exception (sort of….in a not too positive way). While in the next valley a reasonable project was rejected https://barossaleader.com/gone-with-the-wind/ up the road here in the most biodiverse hills around, that are home to the endangered irongrass grassland community and their population of endangered pygmy blue tongue lizards http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/research/biological-sciences/reptiles-and-amphibians/1164 , the only active wedge tailed eagle nest and the only local population of southern hairy-nosed wombats we are getting this https://barossaleader.com/twin-creek-wind-farm-approved/ .
    Sure most of the people upset about this one are possibly concerned for their sanity as well but there is something rather wrong with the way this whole planning and resilience thing is working. This is the first and only major renewable project in this council area and it is going to add to the extinction problem. It makes me super sad. I want to see wind turbines on all the other hills but not these ones. I have been working with grassland flora species for years (until my work accident doing other more paid slavery).
    This sort of craziness is being repeated across the country. With the help/hindrance of inconsistent government decisions.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-11-01/wind-farm-rejection-leaves-clean-energy-advocates-baffled/11649366
    https://www.pv-magazine-australia.com/2019/11/14/kidston-solar-pumped-hydro-project-resumes-with-funding-extension/
    We are failing at cutting emissions and failing to make sensible planning decisions that don’t further impact on our struggling dying disappearing diverse natural wonders. I fear our biodiversity is toast.


    We are still to get our big fire for this season….if we do.

  6. David B. Benson

    A small matter on the scale of affairs, but
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_South_Wales
    is a state, not a territory.

  7. Tamino, here we go again with the latest cold snap. I wrote you before on this, but would love to see you analyze the short term global temperature anomaly. My hunch is that this is merely a local movement of energy, and that globally, not much has changed. Newspapers are again going the more convoluted route about long term records. Can you look at taking the temporal aspects out and help us focus on the simpler story of what happened on earth this week? Thanks!

    • https://www.sciencealert.com/antarctica-s-sudden-stratospheric-warming-is-impacting-australia
      Sorry this is the second time I have done this reply but logging into wordpress is always a screaming nightmare. My first was more detailed and better but based on the 2 links above. If you read them carefully everything I tried to say is in there.
      Apart from as this has only been recorded twice meteorologists can’t say how climatechange or global warming related this is but I would have a good bet that it is.
      I hope this is what you are asking.

  8. I am also C. Blaikie as above but it did not give me the option to change that this time

  9. “I feel really sorry for the firefighters who’ve got extraordinarily tough jobs ahead, and it’s only going to get tougher,” says Beer.

    “But I feel maybe I was not enough of a prophet crying in the wilderness.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/17/what-could-i-have-done-the-scientist-who-predicted-the-bushfire-emergency-four-decades-ago