Bushfires are Nothing New

The following is an excerpt from Jennifer Marohasy’s blog:


The historical evidence indicates fires have burnt very large areas before, and it has been hotter.

Some of the catastrophe has been compounded by our refusal to prepare appropriately. Expert Dr Christine Finlay explains the importance of properly managing the ever increasing fire loads in an article in The Australian. While there is an increase in the area of national park with Eucalyptus forests, there has been a reduction in the area of hazard reduction burning.

The situation is perhaps also made worse by fiddling with the historical temperature record. This will affect the capacity of those modelling bushfire behaviour to obtain an accurate forecast.

We have had an horrific start to the bushfire season, and much is being said about the more than 17 lives lost already, and that smoke has blown as far as New Zealand. Unprecedented, has been the claim. But just 10 years ago, on 9 February 2009, 173 lives were lost in the Black Saturday inferno. On 13th January 1939 (Black Friday), 2 million hectares burnt with ash reportedly falling on New Zealand. That was probably the worst bushfire catastrophe in Australia’s modern recorded history in terms of area burnt and it was 80 years ago: January 13, 1939.

According to the Report of the Royal Commission that followed, it was avoidable.

In terms of total area burnt: figures of over 5 million hectares are often quoted for 1851. The areas now burnt in New South Wales and Victoria are approaching this.


8 thoughts on “Bushfires are Nothing New”

  1. Greens are demanding:

    “We are in a climate emergency and we again call on the government to act immediately by:

    Phasing out coal, oil and methane gas to ensure pollution reduction targets are consistent with science.

    Supporting the rapid transition to a renewable energy economy that will produce tens of thousands of new jobs

    Commit to convening an emergency summit and investing significantly to ensure we have all the available resources for the current emergency.

    Calling a Royal Commission to address all elements of these fires, from land management and national disaster responses to climate change and mitigation”.



    I trust any Royal Commission will examine “Land management” including:

    Greens website, 14 December 2019: https://greens.org.au/bushfires “let us kill off the furphy of clearing trees to protect homes. Trees around your home make very little difference to fire risk . . . ” (via Wayback Machine)

    Greens website, 6 January 2020: https://greens.org.au/bushfires “The Australian Greens support hazard reduction burns and backburning . . . ”




  2. I see that Nine Print Media (formerly Fairfax) have found an expert to say what so many think these days, that more fuel-reduction burning is not the answer.

    This should hardly surprise. Many would be ready to come forth and say exactly that. Academia is a Greenieland incarnate. Environmental degrees are a dime a dozen. Many such courses really only qualify one for life in a koala suit, accosting pedestrians in a city mall for donations to save a species that was only ever locally endangered before green groups started running crown lands management policy by dint of media publicity.

    By contrast, Christine Findlay is a voice crying in the wilderness. I am unaware of Nine Print ever having published her version of the fuel-reduction story.

    For what it’s worth, any combustion requires fuel. Any high-school drop-out mechanic can tell one that. However, the journalists that so keenly talk of workers and their rights long ago gave up actually listening to them.

  3. Green groups are not held to account. Journalists, on the whole, do not ask hard questions of these groups. Those that dare to ask such questions are vilified routinely.

    I believe that this process started when education became a sacred cow of Labor politics, rather than simply a means to an end. University courses multiplied like rabbits, with many graduates in both journalism and environmental studies having the outward fluffy exterior of a cute bunny, whilst their ever-growing teeth chew down those they see as ‘deniers’ as surely as a rabbit plague destroys a standing crop.

    Education as propaganda would describe much of what even young children are taught of the environment. By the time the young reach university, the effects are so entrenched that it is nigh-on impossible to have an educated discussion about the environment with many of the most environmentally-conscious and educated generation we have ever seen.

  4. “The Australian Greens support hazard reduction burns and backburning to reduce the impact of bushfires when guided by the best scientific, ecological and emergency service expertise”
    My experience in the industry has been that these weasel words mean:
    1. They don’t support effective broadscale burning but favour smaller targeted burns against communities which are ineffective in stopping large and intense bushfires..
    2. The “best scientific advice” is taken only from a select and approved few who are mainly dismissive of broadscale planned burning as a bushfire mitigation tool.
    3. Emergency service expertise that is again limited to those who agree with the agenda.
    4. Protection of the ecology that satisfies the Greens and their followers makes burning so bureaucratic and difficult that programmes are hamstrung

  5. This didn’t age well. Area burnt now exceeds 10 million hectares and the ash has gone past New Zealand, over South America and all the way around the world.

    Of course, this won’t affect people like Jennifer Marohasy or most of those who post and comment here. But perhaps some people will pay attention before their own houses burn.

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