Were our recent bushfires the equivalent of an ice age? What does this mean for Australia and the rest of the world? Will the after-effects have a prolonged impact on our future?
Nightline’s Philip Clark in conversation with Stephen Pyne, Emeritus Professor at Arizona State University, specializing in environmental history, the history of exploration, and especially the history of fire. Also the author of Burning Bush: A Fire History of Australia.
Early in 2019, Vic Jurskis warned on the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association website, that in the event of severe fire weather, all the bush from Bairnsdale to Sydney would be incinerated due to an unprecedented accumulation of three-dimensionally continuous fuel. In extreme weather, such fuel inevitably creates firestorms with long distance ember showers. Firebreaks, fire engines and waterbombers can’t stop them.
In this article, Vic shares his thoughts as the NSW Fire inquiry reviews 1000 submissions.
The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements was established on 20 February 2020 in response to the extreme bushfire season of 2019-20 which resulted in loss of life, property and wildlife and environmental destruction.
Referred to as the ‘Bushfires Royal Commission’, the Commission will examine coordination, preparedness for, response to and recovery from disasters as well as improving resilience and adapting to changing climatic conditions and mitigating the impact of natural disasters. The inquiry will also consider the legal framework for Commonwealth involvement in responding to national emergencies.
The Commission is now accepting public submissions on the 2019-20 bushfire season from individuals, community groups and the broader community.
Submissions will now close Tuesday 28th April 2020.
Since the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday fires, only a third of the area earmarked for hazard reduction burns has been cleared and former CSIRO bushfire expert Phil Cheney says there have been “excuses… and Pseudo-science to justify this”.
The photos in this post were taken from a privately owned block which ranges between 1550m – 1850m in altitude. It is the highest freehold block in Australia and is owned by Barry Aitchison, former Fire Control Officer of Snowy River / Monaro Team for 32 years who is a passionate advocate for the high country.
This block is a particularly good example as it is not only owned and managed by someone with a lifetime of both fire and grazing experience, but it contains several test plots which were initiated as part of the High Fire Project in 2006.
The numbered photos in this post tell a story that is worth sharing.
Vic Jurskis wrote a document that was published on this web site 21st January 2019.
Greg Mullins’ dad told him about 1939 when “the sky seemed to be on fire every night”. John Mulligan lived through the Black Friday fires that burnt two million hectares of Victoria and killed 71 people. There were hundreds of fires in East Gippsland at that same time, but no major problems because the bush was kept clean by burning and grazing. John’s family weren’t worried, even when his uncle’s car repeatedly stopped because of vapour locks in the fuel lines with the extreme heat. John has formed the East Gippsland Wildfire Taskforce to try and restore sanity. If we get fires under the same weather conditions today, they’ll destroy everything from Bairnsdale to Sydney.
And now, 12 months later we are see burnt country that extends from Bairnsdale to Sydney with only a few unburnt areas remaining.
Without adequate management and fire reduction burn offs, the ferocity of Australia’s fires will continue to incur an “exponential effect” to the point “no firefighting force known to man” can stop them, says bushfire specialist Roger Underwood, supported by David Packham.