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Climate change: Australia fires will be ‘normal’ in warmer world–Matt McGrath

January 15, 2020
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By Paul Homewood

The latest climate porn from Matt McGrath and his chums:



UK scientists say the recent fires in Australia are a taste of what the world will experience as temperatures rise.

Prof Richard Betts from the Met Office Hadley Centre said we are "seeing a sign of what would be normal conditions under a future warming world of 3C".

While natural weather patterns have driven recent fires, researchers said it’s "common sense" that human-induced heating is playing a role.

Last year was Australia’s warmest and driest year on record.

UK researchers have carried out a rapid analysis of the impact of climate change on the risk of wildfires happening all over the world. Their study looked at 57 research papers published since the last major review of climate science came out in 2013.

All the studies in the review showed links between climate change and the increased frequency or severity of fire weather. This is defined as those periods of time which have a higher risk of fire due to a combination of high temperatures, low humidity, low rainfall and high winds.

As ever, the scare stories are based on theoretical modelling, and not real life.

For instance, it fails to recognise the fact that Australia’s climate has been much wetter since the mid 20thC than before, despite, or maybe because of, global warming.


Or that the extreme drought seen there in the last few months has been due to natural weather factors, primarily an extremely strong Indian Ocean Dipole combined with a Sudden Stratospheric Warming over Antarctica. Richard Betts knows this full well, so why is he allowing the current fire season to be linked to climate change at all?

And neither is there any mention at all of the widespread failure to clear undergrowth, create fire breaks and so on, which has been the major factor in the severity of fires this year.

The study uncritically referred to by McGrath claims that human-induced warming has already led to a global increase in the frequency and severity of fire weather.

However this is contradicted by the actual data which shows that global area burned has declined over past decades.

Even in the Western US, one of the examples quoted in the study as getting worse fires, there has actually been little overall change in fire severity.

Peter Hitchens hit the nail on the head in this week’s Mail on Sunday:

Bushfire facts the biased BBC ignores

Glad as I always am to get news about Australia, an interesting parallel civilisation very like Britain but also deeply different, I am sick almost to screaming of the BBC’s incessant coverage of the forest fires there.

They do it only because it supports their fanatical preaching about man-made global warming. Actually, it doesn’t.

A little study reveals that Australia has been just as hot before, according to measurements as far back as 1889.

Various excuses are now made for ignoring these inconvenient figures but there really isn’t much doubt about it.

Huge forest fires are also common in Australia’s brief history, some of the worst having been in the very hot summer of 1938-9.

After lethal blazes in 2009, a Royal Commission in Victoria strongly recommended the ‘prescribed burning’ of brush to prevent future fires – an old Aboriginal method.

It criticised the ‘minimalist approach to prescribed burning despite recent official or independent reports and inquiries, all of which recommended increasing the programme. The State has allowed the forests to continue accumulating excessive fuel loads, adding to the likelihood of more intense bushfires and thereby placing firefighters and communities at greater risk.’

I don’t think anyone took much notice. Just so you know.

  1. January 15, 2020 2:36 pm

    I have always been brought up with the theory (or fact) that fires beget strong winds – it is the air rushing to fill the void creating by the burning of the oxygen. Is this wrong? best wishes Anthony Wagg >

    • StephenP permalink
      January 15, 2020 5:23 pm

      Consider the firestorms in Hamburg and Dresden in WWII.

    • January 16, 2020 7:50 am

      In Australia bushfires have always been the norm – and always will be. They are caused *by* strong winds (e.g. 50 m.p.h.) blowing outwards from the inland deserts. These winds are hot for two reasons: a) because they are emanating from hot desert areas; b) something to do with being under the downward part of the Hadley cell – freeze-dried winds descending from high-altitude and warming-up.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    January 15, 2020 2:44 pm

    “While natural weather patterns have driven recent fires, researchers said it’s “common sense” that human-induced heating is playing a role.”

    The human-induced heating amounts to a six percent rise from 14°C a hundred years ago to 14.83°C today. Common sense should tell us that’s not a lot of heat to play a role, especially after a rise of 45% in atmospheric CO2.

    • January 15, 2020 4:39 pm

      “Common sense” died in these discussions a LONG time ago. There is no common sense involved. If there were, common sense would tell us that around 200 arsonists are THE problem, not the weather.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 15, 2020 10:12 pm

      And that’s a global average, driven largely by higher minimums and warming in the Arctic.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 16, 2020 1:52 pm

        Derived from very sparse temperature recording stations around the globe.

  3. Anthony Jeric permalink
    January 15, 2020 2:58 pm

    Given that the age of dinosaurs was much warmer than now why didn’t the earth burn to a crisp back then?

  4. January 15, 2020 4:04 pm

    I have attached a link to this page on the BBC comments page under this article. I’m surprised they let me do it!

  5. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 15, 2020 5:42 pm

    Argh! Now R4 PM has got Evan Davies interviewing Gavin Schmidt about the hottest year evah! There is a distinct strategy being executed here. Especially since alarmists are getting a free ride. No dissent allowed! Even Schmidt went off on ‘climate change is controlling the weather’!!

    • mikewaite permalink
      January 15, 2020 8:07 pm

      Even the Dr Who episode this last weekend had a catastrophic global warming theme, with comments about “every scientist warned ”” etc. The result of Earth’s politicians ignoring “every single scientist” was, according to Madame Knowall, famine, migration fueled nuclear war and the emergence of monstrous survivors called Dregs. And who, according to the BBC climate team, are the dregs of society? A rather pathetic piece of agit prop theatre which I thought had died out in the 1970s.

  6. Huw T permalink
    January 15, 2020 6:28 pm

    Let’s cut to the chase. Write to your MP and state your support for Boris Johnson’s plans to decriminalise non-payment of the license fee and the eventual abolition of the tax itself. That will put an end to the BBC’s outpouring of twisted truths and outright lies about climate change. I’ve done so already. The more public support there is for this move the more likely it is to happen.

  7. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 15, 2020 7:37 pm

    Just reflecting on the fact that according to what I’ve read here and in other places, the Australian bush fires of 1974/5 were – iirc – seven times more destructive in terms of land area than the current bush-fires. Then it occurred to me that back in 1974 (I was there) we were being told that the world faced a new Ice-Age! I wonder how that contributed to the devastating fires…

  8. martinbrumby permalink
    January 15, 2020 8:18 pm

    McGrath is just regurgitating his usual rancid Gang Green vomit.

    If I was a member of the Ruinable Energy mafia that just sent him a £100,000 bung, I’d expect something a bit more persuasive, a bit more scary, a bit less obviously bullshit,

    Even Harrabin or Shukman could have promoted their scam better.

    Perhaps their bribes are even higher?

  9. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 15, 2020 10:16 pm

    These discussions about Australia are simply wrong. They are the wrong way round.

    The simple question is: was record heat and drought necessary to have such bad fires?

    As far as I can tell no. A temperature a quarter of a degree lower and not quite as dry over the last twelve months (but dry for say the last three or four months) would have made no difference whatsoever to the severity of the fires. Is there any evidence that’s not true?

  10. January 15, 2020 10:53 pm

    Tony Heller has done a number of videos on Australia and the history of drought and fires. You should watch

  11. January 15, 2020 11:52 pm

    “While natural weather patterns have driven recent fires, researchers said it’s “common sense” that human-induced heating is playing a role.”

    Question: What does “common sense” mean?
    Answer: It means “Confirmation Bias”

  12. Matt Dalby permalink
    January 16, 2020 12:05 am

    It seems obvious to me (having had a lot of bonfires as a kid) that the intensity of a fire is largely determined by the amount of fuel available not an increase of a degree or so in air temperature. The problem in Australia (and California) is mismanagement, mainly decades of putting out every fire possible rather than allowing small fires to regularly sweep through an area and stop the fuel load building up to dangerous levels. Although the total area burnt each year may have declined in the last few decades this part of the problem. The vegetation has evolved to withstand small fires, but once the fuel load exceeds a certain level fires become unnaturally hot and mature trees start to burn the fires become so intense that they are almost impossible to put out.
    Before Europeans arrived indigenous people in various parts of the world had been using fire as a management tool for millenia, setting regular small fires to keep the forest open and prevent fuel loads from building to dangerous levels. As soon as Europeans arrived they arrogantly thought they knew better and these practises stopped. I must of seen hours of coverage of the Australian fires on various T.V. channels all blaming climate change apart from maybe 1 minute on Channel 4 where a lawyer working for aboriginal rights was allowed to talk about traditional management regimes. I find it ironic that so called progressives that would normally champion the rights of indigenous and oppressed minorities suddenly don’t want to listen when indigenous people challenge their long held and cherished views. Their arrogance and implicit racism is little better than that of the early European settlers, and their hypocrisy knows no limits.

  13. January 16, 2020 9:22 am

    The “common sense” comment is an appeal to the public by a senior Met Office scientist, no less, to suspend rational questioning and just ‘believe’ that climate change played some role (unquantified) in the Australian. It’s shocking and disturbing how we’ve got to this stage. Also, no scientist should be saying via a public broadcaster that the Australian bushfires are a ‘sign’ of what is to come – unless they are seers, sages or prophets and not really scientists at all. It’s just hocus pocus nonsense with the obvious inention of scaring people so they accept the need to ‘act’ on climate change. One of the main studies covered in that review also uses RCP8.5 in 17 CMIP5 models to generate scary FWI indices which show ’emergence’ of the climate change signal by 2019 in 22% of the global burnable land area – but not Australia. It’s shameful how the public are being misled by this garbage.

  14. Up2snuff permalink
    January 16, 2020 11:28 am

    Matt McGrath was almost beside himself with glee when reporting on BBC R4 TODAY either on Saturday or on Monday morning – cannot now remember which. He was salivating over his report and couldn’t get the words out firmly and fast enough. There may have been concerns in the studio that he, too, might burst into flame. Extra fire extinguishers to be available for Rog, Matt and, also, Jon Sopel.

  15. Gerry, England permalink
    January 16, 2020 1:55 pm

    And yet how much mention is there that over 200 have died so far in the heavy snowfalls and cold in Kashmir?

  16. John Kerr permalink
    January 16, 2020 2:45 pm

    The Royal Commission Report referred to by Peter Hitchins is available here: The relevant bit is in Volume II, Chapter 7.

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