An article from 2015 in THE AGE warned that Forest fuel levels have worsened over the past 30 years because of “misguided green ideology”, vested interests, political failure and mismanagement, creating a massive bushfire threat, a former CSIRO bushfire scientist has warned.
Victoria’s “failed fire management policy” is an increasing threat to human life, water supplies, property and the forest environment, David Packham said in a submission to the state’s Inspector-General for Emergency Management.
And he argued that unless the annual fuel reduction burning target, currently at a minimum of 5 per cent of public land, “is doubled or preferably tripled, a massive bushfire disaster will occur. The forest and alpine environment will decay and be damaged possibly beyond repair and homes and people [will be] incinerated.”
He said forest fuel levels had climbed to their most dangerous level in thousands of years.
Mr Packham produced his submission in response to a review of bushfire fuel management announced last month by the state government and to be conducted by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management.
In an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Packham said a comprehensive fuel reduction burning regime reduced fuel loads, and consequently reduced the intensity of bushfires, cutting the speed at which they spread. This gave people more time to find safety and fire services more time to respond, he said.
Australia’s current bushfires have nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with fuel-loads, according to scientist and bushfire expert, David Packham AO.
Five years ago, Mr Packham, a former bushfire researcher at CSIRO, warned that unless there is a drastic increase in annual fuel reduction burnings “a massive bushfire disaster will occur”.
According to Mr Packham’s predictions, “The forest and alpine environment will decay and be damaged possibly beyond repair and home and people [will be] incinerated.”
Fuel levels are at their highest since European settlement and that’s something Mr Packham attributed to “misguided green ideology”, vested interests, political failure and mismanagement.
In a November interview with Andrew Bolt on Sky News, Mr Packham said there are four groups that profit from our current situation, which may give “clues” as to why fuel reduction burns have been neglected:
First, the Greens, who are using it to further their Global Warming narrative; second, the fire agencies, who can ask for increased funding; third, the politicians who can exploit the victims for a photo-op; and fourth, the media who report on the tragedy.
“I was terribly surprised when they put out this line that the fires are due to climate change when everybody who knows anything about the principles and a little bit of the science of bushfire behaviour knows that is not the case. It is… the fuel,” he said
“I was terribly surprised because they are very experienced people. They’re right at the top of the tree and to hear what came from them… has left me absolutely startled that people who– if that is what they really believe, you can’t imagine why they are in the position they are in.
“And I can’t believe that they’re saying things they didn’t believe just to push a sort of semi-religious myth about climate change,” he added.
SBS article from 2013 disappears
According to Packham, the science is undeniable.
The ferocity of the fire is determined by the amount of fuel and the amount of fuel determines the rate at which the fire moves. Since fuel levels have climbed to their most dangerous level in thousands of years, a blaze of this magnitude is to be expected.
Fires not due to climate change: expert
Linking the bushfire disaster in NSW to climate change is “an absolute nonsense” and reducing fuel loads in the Australian bush is urgently needed, a leading scientist says.
Retired Monash University researcher David Packham says global warming is a gradual process which doesn’t explain major bushfires.
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt has been accused of playing politics by linking the NSW bushfires to the new federal government’s climate change policies.
But Mr Packham says there is no link.
“It’s an absolute nonsense,” he told AAP.
“The very best interpretation is (it’s) misguided by them not understanding how bushfires actually do work in Australia.
“If there is any global warming, the global warming is so slow and so small that the bushfire event is totally overrun by the fuel state.”
Mr Packham has previously accused “latte conservationists” of having too much influence on forest management.
He says fuel loads are now the heaviest they have been since human occupation of the continent and Aboriginal methods need to be adopted.
Flying over the Blue Mountains in recent years had been “frightening”, he said.
“There’s been this determination over the last 10 to 20 years to not treat our country in the same way the indigenous people treated it for 30,000 years,” Mr Packham said.
“The concept has been every fire is a bad fire.
“In the Australian context you need fire to keep the bush healthy and safe.”
Mr Packham said Western Australia had successfully reduced fuel for decades and up to 20 per cent of bushland should be burned annually.
“If we got to 10 per cent then our area burnt would drop by 90 per cent and our intensity would drop by at least that and undoubtedly more,” he said.
He said major fires had occurred every 10 to 20 years since records began in 1915.
Mr Packham called for an end to playing politics with bushfires and instead called for leadership based on scientific evidence.
A tweet from Mr Bandt last week linked the Abbott government to more bushfires, while Greens leader Christine Milne said it was “climate censorship” to not discuss global warming and bushfires.
Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said he was worried about singling out individual events and using that as an example of climate change.
“Climate change is about overall trends,” he told ABC TV.
“You can never pick the individual drought or the individual weather event and say that’s one because of climate change.”
However, Mr Burke acknowledged climate change was increasing the intensity of extreme weather events.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce described Mr Bandt’s statement as “inflammatory”.
“I don’t think (the people who lost their homes) will appreciate someone playing short term politics,” Senator Joyce told ABC TV.
He said fire activity was not unusual.
Four days after this apparition of an article was updated for the final time Andrew Bolt blogged that the ABC’s 7:30 Report had been less balanced in their coverage of the 2013 NSW bushfire emergency.
“Bushfire expert David Packham tried to tell 7.30 we had to burn our bush every 10 years to cut the leaf litter that turns our fires into infernos, a level of burning NSW doesn’t come close to reaching.
But after just 69 words, 7.30 handed back his microphone to chatterers whose living depends on the warming scare – two green activists and a scientist from Climate System Science.”
Bolt quotes Packham describing the experience with the other taxpayer-funded national broadcaster to him.
“Briefly, at 7.30 request I came into Melbourne a three-hour drive and spent 50 minutes with the 7.30 folk. I estimate about 35 minutes was in interview. I was asked to confirm that the fires in NSW were unprecedented in being so early in the season. I said no, they were not and offered information from Luke and Mc Arthur “Bushfires in Australia -1976” (Aust Govt Publishing Service) which was not accepted.
When the question was put as to the role of global warming, again I said “not involved”.
That was not an acceptable answer and it was clear that it did not fit with the predetermined agenda. My sadness at the termination of my life-long love of the ABC because of this very unethical journalism – at least of the news division – is not only sadness but also a touch of fear for our democracy.”