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‘Climate change doesn’t cause fires’

January 10, 2020

By Paul Homewood

 

Tom Marland is an agribusiness lawyer from Queensland, who understands the outback much better than some academics thousands of miles away.

He covers much of the same ground others have in recent weeks, but with the intimate knowledge that actually living there gives:

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It’s November again and once again half of NSW and Queensland is battling bushfires.

It pains me to see rural and regional communities go through the trauma of out of control bushfires consuming land, forests, native fauna, homes, livelihoods and lives.

My family and my community went through the exact same process last year. It appears little has changed.

Some may say this is not the time to be playing politics around bushfires while people are battling to save their homes and businesses. However, it appears to me that the only time people and politicians will listen is when the flames are coming over the horizon or communities are left in ash.

As predictable as always, conservationists and opportunistic politicians are blaming these fires on climate change.

Before I get attacked for being a climate change denier – I am not. But I am also a climate change realist.

If you leave your front door unlocked, you can’t complain too loudly when someone steals your TV.

It’s the same with bush fires.

You can’t blame climate change when you’ve restricted access to millions of hectares of densely thickened eucalypt forests and wonder why they go up in smoke.

You can’t blame climate change when you haven’t back burned this millennium.

You can’t blame climate change when there are no fire breaks or cool buffer zones installed around towns, houses and critical infrastructure.

Some people haven’t seemed to notice that Australia is the second driest continent on earth, it gets very hot around this time of year, every year and our vegetation has evolved over the last 60,000 years to love bushfires. Big ones.

Tom Marland is an agribusiness lawyer based in Bundaberg, Queensland. He is also the author of the blog, Food for Thought, Thought for Food.

Tom Marland is an agribusiness lawyer based in Bundaberg, Queensland. He is also the author of the blog, Food for Thought, Thought for Food.

The Bureau of Meteorology have claimed that the "strong winds and high temperatures" are the reason for the catastrophic fires. No doubt wind and heat help flame the fires but they aren’t the "reason" or the "cause".

The real reason is Governments – local, state and Federal – over the past 3 decades have bowed to conservationists and green groups by locking up more and more of our national estate and sacrificing them to the flame every bushfire season.

Even if the climate is changing, does that mean we should just throw our hands in the air and let our national estate and biodiversity go up in smoke every year?

I don’t profess to have all the answers but here are a few less dramatic things we can do, other than trying to stop the climate changing, to prevent our national estate, our wildlife and our carbon being cooked every fire season:

  • Recognise that fire has always been a part of the Australian landscape but it’s the fuel loads when fires hit that is really important. A fire can’t burn if there is nothing or little to burn.
  • Just by locking up a piece of scrub and calling it a national park does not make it so. By expanding national parks because it "feels nice" dilutes the resources to protect the areas of our environment that truly are special and endangered and creates a massive estate which is difficult to manage and maintain.
  • One of the best forms of fire fuel reduction is low intensity cattle grazing. It’s low risk, low impact and puts people into areas that actually know how to manage the country and know how to fight fires.

Anyone who says cattle are bad for the environment and biodiversity should go and ask the millions of animals, birds and insects currently being incinerated in national parks and native forests.

Fires in open grass lands with lower fuel loads can be managed and contained. Those in forests are uncontrollable. We need to reintroduce low intensity silvicultural practices across our forest estate to reduce fuel loads, increase forest health, reduce noxious weeds and prevent catastrophic fires.

All fire breaks should be assessed on the type, height and fire risk of vegetation not some demarcated figure ie. 10 meters.

We also need to look at cool buffers where vegetation is retained but canopy cover and stem density reduced. These should be implemented off fire breaks, roads, access lines, around houses, subdivisions and towns. These buffers should be regularly burnt (every year) which reduces the area of forest to be maintained with more frequent larger hazard reduction burns which are risky and difficult to manage.

Native vegetation must also be back burned when the seasonal conditions suit not on prescribed fire rotations set by some university academic or government bureaucrat.

For decades government policy has been focused on kicking people out of the environment. From foresters to graziers to beekeepers – there has been increasing restriction on access to our national estate. This takes people out of the environment who are best equipped to manage it and are willing to invest their own time, resources and lives to protect it.

Stop blaming climate change. Even if the climate is changing, does that mean we should just throw our hands in the air and let our national estate and biodiversity go up smoke every year? Sitting around blaming the weather for all of our problems is juvenile and futile.

If the climate is changing, it’s more important than even that we start to look at practical and affordable solutions to how best manage the impacts of fire.

My thoughts are with those families and communities currently battling these fires.

Let’s hope some common sense prevails to avoid these unnecessary disasters into the future.

https://www.theland.com.au/story/6496579/climate-change-doesnt-cause-fires/

19 Comments
  1. ianprsy permalink
    January 10, 2020 11:08 am

    There’s a saying on left wing politics generally: “The Devil has all the best songs.” This is what all cliate sceptics are up against.

  2. January 10, 2020 11:14 am

    An excellent article which I expect the BBC and Channel 4 to be quoting from any time now.

  3. stephen kent permalink
    January 10, 2020 11:54 am

    Wow… powerful stuff…. cannot argue with it

  4. January 10, 2020 1:25 pm

    Well and eloquently said Tom Marland.

    • Barbara Elsmore permalink
      January 11, 2020 9:46 am

      I really like the fact he refers to himself as a climate realist and in his following words the word ‘fire’ could be replaced by anything else currently being attributed to climate change by the alarmists.

      ‘Stop blaming climate change. Even if the climate is changing, does that mean we should just throw our hands in the air ……..Sitting around blaming the weather for all of our problems is juvenile and futile.

      If the climate is changing, it’s more important than even that we start to look at practical and affordable solutions to how best manage the impacts of fire.’

  5. Gerry, England permalink
    January 10, 2020 1:50 pm

    It is hard not to smile when the actions of environmentalists cause an eco-catastrophy. The shame is that they will never be held to account for their actions. Something involving being tied to a stake comes to my mind.

  6. Pat Coffey permalink
    January 10, 2020 5:03 pm

    As an Englishman with several relations dotted around this magnificent country my heart bleeds for its inhabitants When are so called conservationists and Greens who tamper with the practices learned the hard way through times past try and think things through first before pressing for modern practice . Well said sir ! Lets hope the government listens, Pat Coffey

    On Fri, 10 Jan 2020 at 10:59, NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT wrote:

    > Paul Homewood posted: “By Paul Homewood Tom Marland is an agribusiness > lawyer from Queensland, who understands the outback much better than some > academics thousands of miles away. He covers much of the same ground others > have in recent weeks, but with the intimate kn” >

  7. Adrian, East Anglia permalink
    January 10, 2020 6:33 pm

    Unfortunately, governments and so-called competent authorities (most of which turn out to be thoroughly incompetent) go to great lengths to avoid taking any heed of local knowledge. Academics are always right, particularly when they have no knowledge or experience of the matter in hand. It seems to be the same the world over.

  8. January 10, 2020 7:05 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:

    You can’t blame climate change when you’ve restricted access to millions of hectares of densely thickened eucalypt forests and wonder why they go up in smoke.

    You can’t blame climate change when you haven’t back burned this millennium.

    You can’t blame climate change when there are no fire breaks or cool buffer zones installed around towns, houses and critical infrastructure.

    Some people haven’t seemed to notice that Australia is the second driest continent on earth, it gets very hot around this time of year, every year and our vegetation has evolved over the last 60,000 years to love bushfires. Big ones.

  9. January 10, 2020 9:28 pm

    People should really hope and pray it’s NOT global warming that is the problem. If it is, we are totally screwed. It will take decades or centuries to reduce the CO2, even if we shut everything down to zero and cause WW3. If it’s actually CO2, we are in for a nightmare that simply cannot be corrected in our lifetimes. However, if the more likely cause is human greed and stupidity, there’s at least a chance of reigning this in (in some areas, anyway), taking proper care of rivers and forests, not deliberately burning out people and flooding out people, before too many victims of the rich and power-hungry die. The global warming people claim to care about humanity, but there is zero evidence they do. It’s more likely they hate most humans and want them gone so they have their own personal paradise with the little people serving all their needs.

  10. Gamecock permalink
    January 10, 2020 10:53 pm

    For there to be fire, you need fuel, oxygen, an ignition source, and climate change.

  11. Eddie Logan permalink
    January 11, 2020 2:32 am

    The following letter as forwarded to me by email……………

    Written by Les Crowe.

    I am writing this because I am appalled at the amount of near-hysterical reaction to the recent NSW and Qld bush-fires. My reasoning is not so much about the fires or the people affected, but about whether “man-made” climate change is the underlying cause. Before I go further, my stance is not so much a personal but rather a professional reaction.

    I begin by telling those of you who don’t know, for a period of some 40 years, my work as a loss adjuster was involved with natural disasters, ranging from Cyclone Tracey through to a lesser involvement in 2009. I was appointed as National Chief Loss Adjuster, an advisory role, to the Insurance Council of Australia on all-natural disasters but particularly bush-fires. This role was interactive with all agencies and spanned more than 10 years. It was both proactive in planning stages and reactive after the event. I was heavily involved in the 1983 Victorian fires.

    I acknowledge the advice of The Bureau of Meteorology and the Climate Council, is a reality to the effect the projected changes to climate, was derived from modelling, which strongly suggested change would occur unless man-made contribution was reduced.

    Somehow or other, sections of our communities, have taken control of the scientific argument about the future and have interpreted it to mean the change has already occurred. Not so. Records I have seen, actually show that the slight upward trend in temperatures on a global scale seems to be in direct line with the earth’s ever occurring”natural” climatic change patterns. History shows numerous ice ages, when the planet cooled, to corresponding heating up periods, over billions of years. This has always occurred. It is the nature of our planet and cannot be influenced by what man can or cannot do. On the other hand, the impact of humans is a future projection, well-founded on scientific modelling.

    The true position, despite all the comments about what the current fires mean in a climate change scenario, is nobody can tell if there is any connection.

    What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that these fires, as bad as they were, are no more intense, widespread, dangerous or unexpected in outcome, too many previous and historic events. There is no accurate method to measure such outcomes. However, it is possible to look at prevailing conditions and contributing factors to seek patterns or influential factors.

    Take a look at the following comparative data, much of which has been ignored by the frantic argument to directly link man-made climate change to the outbreak and effects of these latest fires. I detail some of the arguments I have heard go unchallenged or are simply ignored and unreported, particularly by the ABC who are the appointed official national disaster communications service.

    This the first time such fires have been rated as catastrophic. True, but not because they were rated any worse than many previous fires. In 2009, following the bush-fire inquiry, the defined categories of fire were renamed. Catastrophic was introduced as the most severe warning. So this description was never intended to make people think they were the worst fires ever. I have heard many media reports entrench this mistake.

    The fires are occurring earlier because of climate extending the summer risk. Can only be applicable in the North. However, NSW has a long history of November and December bush-fires. In 1944, the Blue Mountains lost 27 homes and other property in November. Since then, I can recall at least 3 other similarly timed events in NSW. So this year was not unique, as has been strongly inferred by many reporters. In southern areas, January and February have historically been prone to outbreaks. These fires are the most widespread and worst ever. They certainly were disastrous. However, it is impossible to compare unless it can be based on raw data…. Have more lives been lost than ever before. No, although 1 is far too many, in 2009, 173 people died. In 1983, 75 people died. In 1962, 62 people died. In that decade one of the victims in Eltham North was George Crowe, my Grandfather and Grandma’s father in law. In 1967, it was reported that 2,600 square kms of land was devastated in just 5 hours (Just try to imagine that ferocity). In 2009 there were 2030 homes destroyed and in 1983 there were 6,000 homes and other buildings destroyed. Does this define which fire was the worst? NO. All fires are bad but to try and claim the current fires are the worst ever is a blatant disregard for historical fact. Worse still, it is a deliberate attempt to scare people into accepting the fanatical side of the global warming argument, by accepting radical changes to our economy, power generation and mining {let alone agriculture and transport} must occur right now and in a premature manner. The so-called re-definition of the predicted changes into an emergency is a way to virtually destroy our entire way of life.

    The fires were started as a result of climate changed conditions. Clearly wrong. 80% of fires were started by people either deliberately or accidentally lighting them. Dry lightning strikes have been long recorded and are nothing new.

    What has our Media and ABC generally ignored? One of the clearest data-based facts, reported out of the 2009 Inquiry, was the finding that fire intensity is proportional to and severely aggravated by fire loads created by undergrowth and forest floor debris accumulation. We can’t control wind and heat but we can control fuel load. Ask any active Rural or Country serving fireman what they think of this hazard. Then ask your Green Party representative, why they have influenced the management of National Park maintenance, as well as local government reserves, to leave far too much of the forest floor intact at any cost. Winter back burning, firewood removal and general debris clearance have been widely restricted by stupid laws. They argue it preserves natural ecosystems that rely on such decaying material. Well, systematic removal of this fuel load may well disrupt some Eco-systems, consider this; A bush-fire positively destroys them all.

    The only identifiable and the recently introduced risk factor is the environmental law changes that have impacted a fire’s intensity potential and capacity to burn faster and hotter.

    Find this hard to believe, Go into a forest and try setting fire to a living gum tree with a match. Now stoop down and see if you get any better results from the dead and therefore dry undergrowth at your feet. This is the effect ember spread has on adjoining bush-land.

    There is much more to say about bringing sanity back into discussions and I have my own opinion that if you believe the science of global warming, stick to the science and ignore the fanatical self-professed experts, like some of the current crop of Green Party politicians and shrieking media, self-appointed, experts. No, before it can be said. I was not self-appointed in my former career positions.

    I can only reflect that the handful of ex-firemen who were paraded before the media, may have had other agendas. The spokesman listed his current occupation as a “Climate Change Consultant”. Another said outright, on camera, that fires have always been linked to climate change. I prefer to listen to our Indigenous community who talk of bush-fire management over thousands of years. – oops before any hint of an industrial age, meat production or mining.

    Ray Payne OAM

    Veteranweb Network

    raypayne@veteranweb.asn.au

  12. Neil Hampshire permalink
    January 11, 2020 8:21 am

    I agree with everything Tom Marland says, but I am concerned about the absence of data. The reason I come to your site Paul is you invariably seek out reliable data on such issues. Can anyone tell me where I can find data on controlled burning and hazard reduction in recent years?

  13. swan101 permalink
    January 11, 2020 3:58 pm

    Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE.

  14. January 12, 2020 2:12 am

    The thing that Australia is up against the green tape of the Sustainable Development Goals for Agenda 2030 – specifically SDG Goal #15.

    In the name of this ideological goal, the UN has demanded that the undergrowth be left in the forests to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

    The devil is in the details of SDG goal 15.2. You can click on each of the 17 goals to show the hidden goals : https://www.keidanrensdgs-world.com/sdg169targets

    Agenda 2030 is or has been made law by the Federal, State and local governments. It’s also being implemented in NZ.

    It’s the United Nations, government officials and bureaucrats who are responsible for this. They’re all desperate to avoid responsibility and strengthen their position by blaming the fires on man-made climate change.

    They are guilty of ecocide.

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