Bushfire Management: Wisdom versus Folly

Originally published: https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2019/02/bushfire-management-wisdom-versus-folly/

By Roger Underwood

Many years ago, still a young man, I watched for the first time the grainy, flickering black & white film of the British infantry making their attack on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. The terrible footage shows the disciplined soldiers climbing from their trenches and, in line abreast, walking slowly across no-man’s land towards the enemy lines. They scarcely travel a few paces before the German machine gunners open up. They are mown down in their thousands. They are chaff before a wind of fire.

I can still remember being struck nerveless by these images, & later my anger when I realised what that calamitous carnage represented. It spoke of the deep incompetence of the generals who devised this strategy of doom & then insisted upon its implementation. It spoke of front-line men led by people without front-line experience. It spoke of battle planners unable to think through the consequences of their plans, & who devalued human lives. It spoke of a devastating failure of the human imagination.

Worst of all, the strategies of the World War I generals demonstrated that they had not studied, or that they had forgotten, the lessons of history. In the final year of the American Civil war, 50 years earlier, the Union army had been equipped for the first time with Springfield repeating rifles, replacing the single-shot arms still were being used by the Confederate army. The impact on Confederate soldiers attacking defenders armed with repeating rifles was identical to that later inflicted by machine guns on the Western Front. But it was a lesson unlearnt, of collective wisdom unregarded.

None of you will have any difficulty in seeing where this analogy is taking me.

The catastrophic bushfires of 2009 in Victoria, & the other great fires of recent years in that state, New South Wales, the ACT & South Australia are dramatic expressions not just of killing forces unleashed, but of human folly. No less than the foolish strategies of the World War 1 generals, these bushfires & their outcomes speak of incompetent leadership & of failed imaginations. Most unforgivable of all, they demonstrate the inability of people in powerful & influential positions to profit from the lessons of history & to heed the wisdom of experience.

Read the full document: https://saltbushclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/bushfire-management-wisdom-vs-folly.pdf [PDF, 384 KB]

Fighting Fires with Fire

By Viv Forbes

The Power of the Torch
“There can be few if any races who for so long were able to practice the delights of incendiarism.” – Geoffrey Blainey “Triumph of the Nomads – A History of Ancient Australia.” Macmillan 1975.

The Fire-lighter was the most powerful tool that early humans brought to Australia.

Fires lit by aboriginal men and women created the landscape of Australia. They used fire to create and fertilise fresh new grass for the grazing animals that they hunted, to trap and roast grass dwelling reptiles and rodents, to fight enemies, to send smoke signals, to fell dead trees for camp fires, to ward off frosts and biting insects, and for religious and cultural ceremonies. Their fires created and maintained grasslands and open forests and extinguished all flora and fauna unable to cope with frequent burn-offs. Continue reading “Fighting Fires with Fire”

More Water Bombers? No – Fight Fire with Fire.

By Viv Forbes

(Background: Australian Government promises A$11M for more flashy water bombers.)

In a furious firestorm with high winds, extreme temperature and big loads of dry fuel, water bombing is usually just wasting water and avgas. In hot winds, water will evaporate quickly, embers will start glowing and blowing, and soon the fire will be raging again.

And with few dams getting built, and much stored water released to irrigate the oceans, where will they get the water? Too often they will steal it from private dams, leaving even prudent landowners with inadequate water in a drought.

Water can extinguish house fires, and protect homes and towns, but is useless for raging forest fires. The only solution here is to fight fire with fire – back burning from the wide cleared tracks which should protect every park, forest and property.

Backburning with Fire-Lighters. Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/4623252/Australian-bushfires-inside-the-mind-of-an-arsonist.html

Continue reading “More Water Bombers? No – Fight Fire with Fire.”

Where were the “fire chiefs” when this bushfire epidemic was incubating?

By Roger Underwood

The sudden outcry in the media from “fire chiefs”, asserting that the current bushfire crisis is the result of climate change, begs an embarrassing question. Embarrassing for the “fire chiefs” that is.

“Where were you when the root cause of this crisis was being laid down in the bush over the last 20 years, while you were in charge?” Continue reading “Where were the “fire chiefs” when this bushfire epidemic was incubating?”

Bushfires in National Parks – the Peregian Fires

By John Mikkelsen, Noosa

The Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington blames “climate change” for the spate of fire emergencies recently facing our area and other parts of Queensland and New South Wales. (Courier Mail, November 18).

Cr Wellington makes no mention of the fact a number of the fires have been deliberately lit, or that climate change did not provide fire bugs with matches or cigarette lighters. Continue reading “Bushfires in National Parks – the Peregian Fires”

Greens to Blame

By Viv Forbes

Congratulations to Graham Lloyd (Aus 12 Nov) for pointing out that Greens are responsible for the incendiary state of the Australian countryside.

And shame on those same Greens for continually riding their climate alarm hobby-horse.

There is nothing new about droughts, heatwaves or fires in Australia. What is unusual is the scale and ferocity of recent bushfires caused by Green worship of trees and locked up land, and their opposition to hazard reduction burn-offs. Continue reading “Greens to Blame”

Bushfires in Victoria

Author and Source Unknown

Probably if you are from Melbourne you will know this history…..

Black Thursday Bushfires – 6th Feb 1851

Australia’s most extensive Bushfires were known as the ‘Black Thursday’ Bushfires, where on the 6th Feb 1851 (CO2 levels 285ppm) when the temperature hit an incredible 117°F (47.2°C) at 11am in Melbourne. A quarter of Victoria, 5 million hectares in total were burnt out (10 times more than from the current Bushfires in NSW). 12 lives were lost and one million sheep and thousands of cattle where lost. Continue reading “Bushfires in Victoria”

Green Policies Destroy the Forests

By Viv Forbes

Australia is a land of deserts, droughts, floods, bushfires, flammable forests and fire-prone grasslands – these conditions have developed since the start of the Holocene Warm Era about twelve thousand years ago.

All previous Australian bushies, both black and white, have recognised the key principle of fire management in Australia – you can have many small managed “cool” fires in early spring or a few unplanned disastrous “hot” fires consuming a heavy fuel load in hot dry winds in late spring. (Arsonists have other priorities and light their fires at these most dangerous times.) Continue reading “Green Policies Destroy the Forests”

The Ghosts of Black Thursday 6th February 1851

By Peter L Ellis. November 2019

My great-grandfather’s brother, Nehemiah Bartley born in London in 1830, was a consummate adventurer who arrived in Hobart at age 19. He immediately entered into business arrangements with his Uncle Edwin Tooth the brewer and the dynastic Tasmanian medico and later, Premier of Tasmania, Dr William Lodewyck Crowther. This involved sailing in the Eudora for the frontier gold-rush town of San Francisco to test the market. There the young man helped fight the horrendous San Francisco fire of 1850. Later in life he graphically recorded his adventures in his book “Opals and Agates” (Gordon and Gotch, Brisbane 1872).

Continue reading “The Ghosts of Black Thursday 6th February 1851”

Are Green Zealots Fuelling Our Bushfires?

By Dr. John Happs

Australia has always experienced droughts, floods and bushfires and it is immoral for those with vested interests, political or otherwise, to blame (imaginary) global warming for bushfires that occur in Australia or other parts of the world.

Climate alarmists will point to the need for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions or the closure of coal-mines, the banning of fracking and a shift to unreliable, inefficient alternative energy sources such as solar and wind farms. These measures, they argue, will somehow combat bushfires that have always been part of Australia’s history. There is no evidence to show that reducing carbon dioxide emissions will have any impact on global temperature or bushfire frequency.

Continue reading “Are Green Zealots Fuelling Our Bushfires?”