Doomed Planet

When Science Chooses to Block its Ears

The Institute of Foresters of Australia/Australian Forest Growers (IFA/AFG) is planning a national conference in Launceston for October. I had intended to present a paper, even though it clashes with my annual get-together for the Supercars at Bathurst with my eldest son. IFA/AFG describe themselves as follows:

Our members are forest scientists, professionals, managers and growers operating in all aspects of forest and natural resource management throughout Australia. We advocate for and provide professional development to ensure balanced, integrated forested land use, as well as sustainable management that meets community and environmental needs.

The title of the conference is Your Forests, Our Future.

I prepared an abstract for Conference Theme 1 – Forests in the face of change: risks and opportunities, and the sub-themes – Climate and Fire. I am disturbed because IFA/AFG has stated that mild burning is not the panacea for our bushfire problem. They’ve recently promoted junk science by academics claiming that climate change caused by humans is driving megafires and causing chronic decline of eucalypts, wrongly described by the academics as ‘dieback’.

In fact, bushfires and forest health problems are two sides of a coin. In regard to forest health we have only one major environmental problem in this country – lack of ecological maintenance by mild fire. Here’s my abstract: 

People can restore healthy, safe, diverse and resilient landscapes in the face of climate change

Aborigines reshaped Australian landscapes long ago. The firestick maintained durable cultures and economies through an ice age, rapid global warming, extreme climatic variability and hugely rising seas. Europeans doused it and turned country upside down. Soils, roots and canopies deteriorated, and woody weeds, robust tussocks or prolific forbs choked out delicate flora. Many small mammals were lost.

Foresters were blind to fire’s critical importance. We created inhospitable wilderness, prone to pestilence and holocaust. Then we realised our mistakes and reintroduced sustaining fire. Now, a new generation of theoretical ecologists has unleashed wildfire once again. They attribute lost ecological resilience, chronic eucalypt decline, pestilence and megafires to climate change caused by human activities.

However, experience teaches us that explosive three-dimensionally continuous biomass fuels firestorms. Sadly, many people don’t appreciate the inverse relationship between biomass and biodiversity. ‘Hazard Reduction Burning’ is a term which underscores this blinkered view. Mild burning is simply ecological maintenance. Fuel doesn’t accumulate. Nutrients are recycled.

Lack of maintenance suppresses biodiversity, promoting plagues of irruptive species, both native and exotic. Megafires inevitably follow, exacerbating the problem in a vicious circle. The modern conservation paradigm is fatally flawed. An holistic view of ecology perceives that ecosystems need people. This aligns perfectly with traditional Aboriginal knowledge.

Our ecological history, from 1789 when Aboriginal maintenance was first disrupted by smallpox, through to our Black Summer of 2019/20, is disturbing. But we need not despair. A basic paradigm shift can restore a healthy and safe environment to sustain our society and biodiversity.

The organisers didn’t like it. Here is their response (emphasis added):

Dear Vic,
Thank you for your recent abstract submission. The Program Committee and reviewers have requested a revision of your abstract, before reviewing again.

Reviewer Feedback: While there is merit in this abstract, the abstract would benefit from a revision. Could the author please focus on the science to support their statements and also modify the language to be less emotive and more inclusive of the diverse audience and the experiences and knowledge that will be represented among the delegates and audience. For example, use of the term ‘holocaust’ has specific meaning to some people and terminology such as ‘we need not despair’ and ‘the modern conservation paradigm is fatally flawed’ verges on personal opinion, as opposed to a constructive scientific argument for how management can be improved.

Yours sincerely,
Naomi
Conference Manager

It will come as no surprise that I did not like their response:

Dear Naomi,
Thanks for the notification.  This is censorship and insult.

There is not enough room in a 250-word abstract for the statements and “the science to support the statements”. I supplied a list of 30 references on both sides of the argument with the abstract.

Holocaust is defined in the dictionary as “destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war”. “The Holocaust” has an entirely different meaning.

‘The modern conservation paradigm is fatally flawed’ and ‘we need not despair’ are essential to the statement, flow from the title, and will be supported by science from the listed references to show how management can be improved. 

Please note that I had a letter to the editor of Australian Forestry wrongly rejected for similar reasons. It proposed that Victor Steffensen [traditional Aboriginal burning expert] should be a keynote speaker at the next conference. Lo and behold, he is! This reviewer feedback suggests that the choice was political rather than scientific.

Please reconsider the abstract as it stands. Please employ a reviewer with a better command of the English language and the scientific method.

Sincerely,
Vic Jurskis FIFA [Fellow of the IFA]

The organisers insisted my abstract had been properly peer-reviewed:

Hi Vic,
Thank you for your email.  All abstracts are reviewed by at least two reviewers, with at least one from a strong academic background, being A/Prof, Prof or Dr. Your abstract was reviewed by three people, and there was consensus of feedback. We encourage you to revise your abstract based on the feedback and resubmit it, and do hope you will do so.

All the best,
Naomi

So ‘scientific consensus’ prevails again:

Dear Naomi,
Thanks for your response. It confirms my fears that the Institute has become an ineffective political lobby group dominated by academic/bureaucratic groupthinkers. Many years ago, I joined a professional organisation supporting experienced, pragmatic and scientific land management and healthy debate. It’s a sad day for me. As I pointed out in Firestick Ecology, ‘scientific consensus’ is an oxymoron.

I will neither revise my submission nor renew my membership.

Sincerely,
Vic   

Politically correct academics and bureaucrats fiddle around with their like-minded friends in conferences and peer-reviewed papers and media releases, untouched by reality, whilst Australia crashes and burns:

Hi Vic
Naomi has passed on your email and I note that you do not intend to renew your membership.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank you for your years of membership as well as support of the IFA/AFG and wish you all the very best for the future.

Kind regards
Jacquie [CEO of IFA/AFG]

Looks like I’ll be seeing the Supercars at Bathurst after all.

Vic Jurskis worked for NSW Forestry Commission as a labourer, forester, researcher, manager and finally, Silviculturist for the Commission’s Native Forest Division. He investigated chronic eucalypt decline across Australia in a Fellowship with the Gottstein Trust, and with a Maxwell Ralph Jacobs Award from the Australian Academy of Science. He has published two books, Firestick Ecology, and The Great Koala Scamboth available from Connor Court

12 comments
  • Harry Lee

    It is useful to be presented with examples like this.
    Of course, it has been evident for some decades that Australia is dominated by anti-empirical/anti-Westernist/anti-free enterprise forces. Investors and big business managers have noted this and have simply accepted the truth of it. They now invest in and manage projects that serve their own purposes, which do not necessarily serve “national” interests. The naturally occurring propensities among many Australians to parasitism, swaggering BS, devotion to ignorance, and naive idealism have been fully exploited by the marxist power-mongers. These marxist-inspired Big Statist power-mongers now control all institutions either directly, or by puppetering naive, parasitic ingrates who believe their salvation resides in destroying Western Civ. Multiculturalism is a major component in all of this, obviously. To live a life of tax-payer-funded leisure while parroting the ideology of (fake, false, destructive) marxist-greenist, “inclusive” virtue is now the animating feature of Australian culture. And we are fast running out of wealth-creating nett tax-payers. Even the tax system penalises the creation of high-margin, wealth-creating enterprises. Australia now looks like it is designed, governed and administered by its enemies.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Shameful.

  • Stephen Due

    Sadly, Vic, your resignation will probably not worry Naomi and her ilk. The elements who oppose your position and want to de-platform you will be happy to see you go: it helps cement their control of the organization.
    I see this happening all the time in professional workplaces and associations. A friend of mine took a package from an elite scientific body rather than endure the falling standards, the dishonesty and the backstabbing that had become routine. In a similar situation another lamented “All the good people are leaving”.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    On ABC Australia Wide tonight: “Fighting fire with fire: has burning in the Kimberley gone too far?”

    It seems a lot of damage being done to the Kimberley and other parts of Northern Australia. Burning is destroying habitats on a large scale.

    Driven by two types of dodgy science: (i) CC “threats”, and (ii) out of control “fire management” programs. The latter’s mantra: burn early and hard to prevent bigger burning later. Trouble is they have burnt so hard they are destroying habitats.

    “Carbon” cowboys use helicopters to light up, thanks to government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s “carbon credit” games.

    Partly funded by Qantas Frequent Flyer programs. Offsetting its “carbon emissions” by funding Northern Land Council – and others – to “burn the landscape” and getting paid to do it.

    Charlie Sharp, owner of the Lake Argyle Resort, calls it “criminal”. Early season burning now so frequent it has produced “a burnt arid landscape” over large areas.

    “I just don’t understand ‘the science’ behind it.”

    Qantas and the CEFC would not be interviewed for the program.

  • DG

    Your humble servant has been peer reviewer on a number of papers related to his area of expertise. I saw my job as ensuring that stimulating papers had addressed the literature, understood the field as it stood, and were statistically rigorous where that was relevant. I did not see it as my duty to have an opinion on the author’s thesis. That would be censorship.

  • Stephen Due

    I recall a video of Donald Trump meeting with California officials during the fires of September 2020. One man blames global warming, citing ‘the science’. Trump responds with “It’ll start getting cooler, you watch” – and moves on.
    The idea that one should aim to reduce the risk from forest fires in California or Victoria by taking action to reduce global warming is obviously impractical, even if the preferred model of global climate were correct, which is most unlikely. The only practical system ever devised is to use fire towers or other early warning systems, to put in firebreaks, and to reduce the available fuel in advance by controlled burning. The responsibility for this should rest with local authorities. They know what needs doing, and they have the incentive, because if they get it wrong their communities will suffer.

  • March

    Left GSA for similar reasons. Captured by post modernists and now so woke it’s broke. The exodus of rational members accelerates the decline.

    https://righttoclimb.blogspot.com/2021/03/mt-warning-freedom-of-speech-missing-at.html

  • NFriar

    Good on your for not saluting those who must be obeyed.
    No taking the knee as it were.
    If everyone took a stance – then they could not get away with dominating us.
    Enjoy Bathurst Vic

  • Solo

    Unfortunately, its increasingly a matter of getting like minded people together and hold your own conference, widely publicised with links to streaming platforms for as much reach as possible.

    Leaving these cults is the right thing to do, but if alternate viewpoints are not displayed anywhere at all, the vast majority become ignorant (or morseo)

  • Harry Lee

    Some civilians scoff that generals fight the previous war.
    The general point is that few people comprehend the nature of the war they are fighting and they fail to devise the strategy and develop the tactics and weapons that are required to win the war.
    In the case of the climate war, the first point to realise is that it is not a conflict over empirically derived facts. Instead. It is a political war for power to control the details of the daily lives of the Ordinary People.
    Ask now: Who is the real enemy? Answer: ideological power-mongers acting mostly in the shadows.
    And who are the front-line pawns in the battles?
    Answers:
    Careerists -in scientific communities, in the public services, in the education and legal systems, in the news/opinon media, in elective politics.
    Naive idealists just wanting to make everything nice for everyone.
    Rebels: people with resentments who conceive their lives as simply saying No to people whose productivity and contributions to the community ensure that the rebel eats, drinks, is supplied with recreational drugs, is housed and medicated.
    Parasites who seek to scoop up other peoples’ money and property in the chaos of change from one technology to another.
    Now go back to the manipulators in the shadows: These are the power-mongers who use marxist (“Alinsky”) tactics to whip up fear and “victimhood” among the weak-minded, among those resentful about the circumstances of their birth/family/colour/creed/country of origin, and among the easily roused do-gooders who want the world to be perfect without getting their hands dirty or having to engage in the true, deeper causes of human misery -which of course reside the refusal to take responsibility for one’s life.
    To save the West, and the Australian part of it, it is necessary to comprehend and accept the nature of the war at hand, then fight the right battles, with the right strategy, with the right tactics, with the right weapons.
    The ALP and the Greens are certainly bitter enemies of Western Civ and its foundations, and its necessary ingredients, and its implications. And 50% of voters, more or less, love the ALP and the Greens. And the immigration/refugee inflow and the education systems, Kindie to Uni, and the mainstream media, are preparing and turning out more ALP/Green voters than Lib/Nat voters.
    And the Libs and Nats, to preserve some claim to voter appeal, are therefore naturally lurching to the marxist-greenist Left in what they must promise the ignorant, the naive, the fakely idealistic, the weak-minded, the resentful, the parasitic, the slothful.
    Presenting actual facts, in the expectation of logical debate, will not defeat the enemy in this climate war -it’s not that kind of war.

  • ianl

    @ March – 11th June 2021

    After nearly 30 years of continuous membership, I resigned about 10 years ago. The issue of Mt Warning was not the catalyst, but rather the “Statement on Climate Change” presented to the world press by the GSA Executive without first polling the membership convinced me that the situation had become hopeless. Unlike you though, it never occurred to me to request a refund of my annual fee ! I simply pointed out that I refused to be embarrassed by imputed silly notions so the GSA could proceed without my money. I’m quite sure that both of us have not missed each other one tiny bit …

  • Elizabeth Beare

    Just another useful institution thoroughly Gramsci’d and feminised.

    Naomi and Jacquie are classic examples of the type. Please let them know. Vic, that I said so. Such women need to know how much they are not admired now by others who once carried the flag.

    Vic, if it’s any comfort, my husband has a PhD in Science, is a renowned international researcher and team leader in his field, and prior to retirement, held a professorial and senior Chancellery appointment in a group-of-eight sandstone. Very familiar with the referee process, I am sure he would provide a well-considered and very different review of your referenced article, This is because, even though the only bushfires he has ever dealt with were in the internecine battle-fields of Academia, he firmly believes in scientific diversity of opinion and can spot a political blocking a mile off. 🙂

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