Doomed Planet

The ABC’s Great Climate Cop-Out

Aborigines survived tens of thousands of years of sometimes rapid climate change by keeping country clean, healthy and safe. Europeans created firestorms by allowing explosive continuous fuels to accumulate. Bear those facts in mind as the Glasgow Climate Circus draws near and, right on cue, the ABC ramps up their campaign to sacrifice our society and economy on the altar of green ideology. The vehicle is Episode 3 of the national broadcasters series based on the Black Summer disaster, Fires.

But first, let us step back some 18 years. In 2003, a House select committee released A Nation Charred accepted the knowledge and experience of land and fire managers across the country. The report of the parliamentary inquiry identified that a lack of mild, regular burning sets us up for uncontrollable megafires every time there’s a bad season. In 2004, a fire chief and two professors produced the COAG report. They gave us a false narrative about “learning to live with bushfire”. Since then, 200 people have died in the flames for no reason. Now, we have ‘education’, emergency response and evacuation instead of sustainable land management.

Funding for fire engines, waterbombers and research comes from governments throwing money at problems rather than looking for practical solutions. COAG co-author, Professor Robert Whelan, set up a bushfire research industry at Wollongong University which receives multimillion dollar government funding. Following the 2020 Black Summer catastrophe, this juggernaut, under new director Professor Ross Bradstock, gave advice, not evidence, to the NSW Inquiry.

After the Bushfires Royal Commission was announced, it became a Royal Commission into ‘Natural’ Disasters. Contrary to its terms of reference, the Commission did not consider the all-important findings of the 2003 Parliamentary Inquiry. Instead, it endorsed the COAG report, lining us up for worse to come.

Now, the ABC has produced an hour-long TV advertisement for Tim Flannery’s Climate Council and its subsidiary, Greg Mullins’ Emergency Leaders for Climate Action. The episode can be viewed via this link.

Firestorm” features some of the academics and fire chiefs who gave us Black Summer, plus some fresh faces who also lack knowledge and experience of sustainable fire management.

As a taxpayer compelled to fund both the advertising and the massive running costs for the self-serving academic  empires, I’m thoroughly disgusted. But it’s hard not to admire the highly-skilled delivery of propaganda and junk science by our public broadcaster as Aunty inserts a few small grains of truth, like threepences in a miserly Christmas pudding, into a great pile of other stuff to create a pretence of plausibility. The ABC climate campaign meshes seamlessly with commercial media from the same alarmist watermelon patch. The first installment of the Fires series was closely followed by a Sydney Morning Herald story announcing the release of Mullins’ book, Firestorm.

Taxpayers’ TV treated us to a lecture on millions of years of evolution whereby eucalypts have spread wildfire to gain dominance in Australia. We were told that the original Australians learnt how to manage these ancient fire-dependent forests. In fact, Aborigines created a whole new system when they spread across the continent around 40,000 years ago. It depended on deliberate mild burning to recycle nutrients and maintain healthy trees and grasses. This virtually eliminated soft, nutritious dark green browse, and so the megafauna perished.

The Climate Council’s Professor Flannery made his name with a science-fiction book about Aborigines eating the megafauna. There is not a single shred of evidence for this – no diprotodon bones, for example, bearing marks of flesh having been cut away with stone knives — and very much evidence against it. But the Firestorm episode is unique in having Flannery, the habitual wrongologist, presenting a very pertinent scientific fact. I nearly fell off my chair when he told us the truth that accumulation of woody fuels caused our fire problems after Aboriginal burning was disrupted.

Flannery quickly covered his tracks to keep the climate change narrative viable by saying that it happened slowly. However, history contradicts his narrative. Our first megafire happened in the Strzeleckis soon after the Yowenjerre people were decimated by smallpox in 1789. Thick scrub quickly escaped and spread from deep, dark gullies. It took over the landscape and exploded in the next severe season around 1820. After Europeans disrupted Aboriginal burning throughout Victoria, five million hectares were incinerated by the Black Thursday fires of 1851. Embers from the firestorm even ignited the rigging of ship heading for New Zealand.

Of course, today’s scene must be painted as much blacker than that to let those who have for so long mismanaged the bush to deploy their all-purpose Climate Cop-Out. So academics and fire chiefs now point to the world record Gospers Mountain fire of Black Summer – more than half a million hectares. They tell us it was a combination of global warming and bad luck. Out of 19,100 lightning strikes in a big storm on October 26, 2019, only one started a fire.

Lightning strike #19,068 was in the Wollemi Wilderness. Supposedly no-one noticed until fire roared into the treetops. After that, a sortie of waterbombers couldn’t stop it. Even then, the fire supposedly wasn’t out of control, because it was still within so-called containment lines. A couple of weeks later, extreme weather arrived and a firestorm blew up. It was publicised around the world as evidence of catastrophic climate-change. If ignorance and incuriosity were worth a penny a pound, newsrooms would be some of the richest real estate on the planet.

No mention either in Firestorm that, 230 years earlier, the Settlement Drought was Australia’s worst in 500 years of paleo-records. At the same time, there were three consecutive seasons of extreme fire weather – much worse than Black Summer. Back then, Aboriginal fires were constantly burning to the northwest of the European settlements. It wasn’t wilderness, so there were no megafires and no disasters.

In December 1790, Watkin Tench recorded a temperature of 430C at Rose Hill, and NNW winds “like the blast of a heated oven”. In February 1791, he wrote:

The north-west wind again set in and blew with a great violence for three days. At Rose Hill, it was allowed, by every person, to surpass all that they had before felt, either there, or in any other part of the world. An immense flight of bats, driven before the wind, covered all the trees around the settlement, whence they every moment dropped dead, or in a dying state, unable longer to endure the burning state of the atmosphere. Nor did the perroquettes, though tropical birds, bear it better; the ground was strewed with them in the same condition as the bats.

Despite continuing drought and extreme weather, on December 5, 1792, settlers were able to control wildfires using hand tools and green branches. A single hut in Sydney and another near Parramatta were burnt. Both had tinder-dry thatched roofs. These days, columns of fire engines and squadrons of waterbombers are unable to save houses with steel or tile roofs.

Firestorms explode from the wilderness in severe weather because it is has been allowed to revert to wilderness, not because it is hot, dry and windy. Extreme weather is an inevitable natural occurrence. Aborigines survived it without boots, overalls, fire chiefs, fire engines, waterbombers, computer models or advice from academics. The so-called experts have never made friends with fire. To do that you need matches, not computer models.

In the ABC’s climate-terror commercial, Professor Kevin Tolhurst tells us that fire is as important to the bush as the sun and the wind and the rain because it recycles nutrients and releases energy. That’s absolutely true. But, on the other hand, expert modelling is used to restrict rather than encourage gentle burning. The fatally flawed system designed by academics and fire chiefs in southeastern Australia ensures that a miniscule proportion of the landscape is managed. The models are used to decide where a little bit of burning can supposedly protect suburbs. But a little bit of burning makes no difference. Firebreaks don’t work and waterbombers don’t work for the same reason.

Our wide brown land of droughts and flooding rains is denied the mild fire that maintains resilience, health and safety. Tree roots can’t cope with natural cycles of dry and wet. Trees decline in droughts and get even worse when soils are waterlogged. Scrub booms under sick trees creating an explosive mix of fuel and air from ground to canopy. ‘Upside-down country’, filmmaker Victor Steffensen calls it – thin on top and thick underneath.

ABC, Flannery, Mullins & Co add arrogant insult to grievous injury by lecturing us on traditional Aboriginal management. They clearly don’t understand the difference between managing land and burning so-called firebreaks. Despite all of Episode 3’s graphic footage, they seem unable to comprehend that firebreaks don’t work. Harry Luke clearly stated this simple fact 60 years ago in his seminal book Bushfire Control in Australia. It’s the reason fire chiefs and academics so desperately need their Climate Cop-Out.

Experienced land managers have the solution to megafires. What they don’t have is the ear of governments and, more particularly, the funds. We could easily prevent massive megafires and it would save both lives and money.

12 comments
  • IainC

    The BoM rainfall data show that Australia’s second wettest decade since 1900 was.. tah-dah!…2010-2019, even WITH the record low value in 2019 (but which itself was similar to 6 or 7 other years spread throughout the 120 years, so by no means unique). A bunch of rain, a dry year or two, combined with c—p land management, and viola! A bad fire season. The very wet year we are having now bodes ill for country folk in another 5 years or so, unless some adults take over the fire strategy and management shop.

  • Charles

    Right on the money Vic, and you can add to poor land management practises the fact that the majority of the professional fire-fighters have forgotten (or never learnt) about back-burning.

    In 2019-20 we watched the Green Valley fire establish itself in national parks and state forests where it burned for almost 3 weeks, coming out from time to tome to burn everything in sight before retreating back into the parks. Being almost all crown fires they were impossible to put out until the CFA finally overrode the VIC Parks fire-fighters and started to do some backburning, were they able to bring it under control.

    It was a demonstration of complete incompetence by the professional (not volunteer) fire-fighters, started by lightning strike and not attended to (despite early notification to authorities) until it was too big to put out. If climate is the metric that dictates fire intensity and size then Coober Pedy would be on year round fire alert, but it’s not because the only important metric associated with bushfires is fuel load.

  • John Cook

    I like your comment about Coober Pedy, Charles.
    As usual, governments waste our money on solutions that don’t work or are too little, too late.

  • Biggles

    The first sentence of this essay is pure fantasy, Mr Jurskis. How can you, or any white man, know what the aborigines did for tens of thousands of years before white settlement? How many aborigines were there? We don’t know. Did the so-called ‘First Nations’ gather regularly to map out fire control plans for the coming year? Perhaps you have gained some of your ‘facts’ from Bruce Pascoe. Aborigines didn’t use fire to keep the country ‘clean’; they used it to flush-out game; they were very primitive people, not fire wardens.
    There are some good points in your essay Mr Jurskis, but please avoid the woke fantasies in future.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Flim Flannery, the world’s worst prognosticator, strikes again. There are many such obsessives in the universities and academies of the world, all imagining themselves to be a modern Nostradamus, but few have such a woeful record at prediction as Prof. Tim, or indeed have cost the country so much, in Tim’s case for useless desalination plants costing billions.
    Few also have an institute, or council if you prefer, to act as a platform for their prognostications and pronouncements. Of course the funding of said council is a clue as to the broader picture here and the ultimate prize of vast renewables subsidies. On the one hand you have the leftwing propagandists in the ABC and Climate Council, who have their virtue signaling funded by others and on the other here in NSW the Turnbull-Photios-Kean cabal with an eye on subsidies, also funded by others – us. The public interest comes a distant third after that lot

  • vicjurskis

    Thanks Biggles. Not woke fantasy. All hard scientific evidence, traditional knowledge from real Aborigines and historical observations by explorers. Fire was the most important thing in Aboriginal culture and economy. Explorers and naturalists described chaos when burning was disrupted. I suggest you read some of my books and papers. Or stay in you own fantasy world – just as bad as Pascoe’s.

  • Dave Carter

    Please Vic Jurskis, do not drop the article which should qualify “country”. “The” country, would be understood as “the countryside” by any reasonable reader- “their country” would not be grudged, being a specific locator, just the subject you’re discussing.
    But “country” without any article is awfully lumpen, and I think it’s a mistake to canonize the trendy pidgin- it’s the tyranny of low expectations.

  • Daffy

    “Country” refers primarily to the spirit of county. Thus, ‘country’ is a spirit totem in Aboriginal spirituality, as far as I can glean from the Aboriginal Spirituality website, and the practice of Aboriginals I’ve worked with.

  • Daffy

    BTW, just to get Mullins’ background right: he was the union rep for the Fire fighters’ union in the early 70s, from memory. I’ve got back issues of their union journal hidden in attic, but I seem to remember him popping up from time to time in its pages. I would thus assume his alignment with Labor/left passions, and lack of passion for science.

  • ianl

    @Daffy

    Yes, Mullins is a very loud and noisy union politician.

    I came across him in full vocal flight at a tense community hall meeting during the 2013 fire season in the Blue Mountains.

    Fires were pushing along the surrounding ridges and we all wanted the local ranger, just in from field activity, to give us hard detail. Mullins pulled rank and took the microphone first for over 20 minutes to harangue everyone in a very loud voice about fire safety. He was followed by an ALP ex-Senator who lives in the district and performed exactly the same loud and useless time-waste in very anxious circumstances.

    The local ranger was relegated to last but provided real information.

  • Andrew Griffiths

    One of my early memories are the 1952 Fires around Canberra,my job as a 3year old, was to help my father soak wheat bags to beat down the fires, his uniform was a pair of shorts and sand shoes . The fires burnt through land that was grazed by sheep and cattle, it seemed that the gear used was adequate to fight these fires. Scroll forward to 2003 when bushfires burnt through so called nature parks made up of long grass, weedy shrubs,Pine Forests and remnant Euc Woodlands.Surprise, Burnt out houses, fire trucks destroyed and lives lost.Some of the foresters in the ACT service tried to warn people of the danger, but were ignored,What can anyone do to counter this craziness?

  • gilmay97

    Climate Changes are part of the earth’s natural cycles, 31,487 Scientists including 9,029 with PhDs (in the USA alone) say NO to the Alarm, it is just another extreme but normal weather event. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiPIvH49X-E
    https://alex-kime.com/global-warming-31,487-scientists-say-no-to-alarm/

    By cross-referencing tree-ring data and coral core samples, a team of researchers (Environmental Research Letters, Volume 10, Number 12) have revealed that Australia suffered the worst drought in history before the whites settled there from Britain. There was virtually no rainfall and rivers simply ran dry. Much of the wildlife died and massive bushfires ravaged the landscape. The total devastation lasted for one cycle of a 23-year mega-drought that crippled Australia between 1500 and 1522.
    (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/10/12/124002)

    Since the global warming crowd insists that everything that takes place on the planet is caused by human activity, the only possible explanation means we have to blame the aborigines.

    The Settlement Drought (1790-1793), nearly led to the collapse of the fledgling colony of NSW, causing failed wheat crops and water shortages.
    Droughts have their origin in in the fluctuations of the global climate system.

    Many factors continually influence the weather every month or season and will differ from one year to the next.

    The climate system is an extremely complex mix of different sub-systems all interacting with each other on a wide range of time and space scales, e.g. atmospheric, oceanic, ice masses, the biosphere, sunspots or lack thereof, solar winds, cosmic radiation, phases of the moon, volcanoes, equatorial bulge of 42.47 kms, orbital rotation and wobble, axis tilt, polarity position and gravitation effect.

    These intervariable factors are why there is always climate changes over long periods of time scales, we are currently experiencing just one of them, and more will come as there have been many in the past. I have explained these workings in easy to understand format in other available sheets.

    AUSTRALIA HAS EXPERIENCED ABOUT 24 MAJOR DROUGHTS SINCE 1803 AND A 23-YEAR MEGA-DROUGHT BETWEEN 1500 and 1522.

    Drought Years: – 1803, 1809, 1813 -15, 1826 -29, 1835 & 1838, 1838 – 39, 1846, 1850, 1864 – 66, 1868, 1877, 1880 – 86, 1887 – 1889, 1895 -1903, 1911-16, 1918-20, 1939 – 45, 1958 – 68, 1982 – 83, 1994 – 1995, 1996 – 210, 2017 -2020.

    With Lesser Droughts during these years: 1922-23 and 1926-29, 1933-38, 1946-49, 1951-52, 1970-73, 1976.

    With approximately 73 Bush Fires recorded as a result of these droughts.

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