Miranda Devine

March 5, 2019

Melissa Price, the new federal Environment Minister, has done untold political damage to a government already divided over climate action by spouting idiotic green propaganda about Victoria’s bushfires.

On Tuesday, she linked the fires to climate change, claiming there is “no doubt” of its impact on Australia.

“There’s no doubt that there’s many people who have suffered over this summer. We talk about the Victorian bushfires … There’s no doubt that climate change is having an impact on us. There’s no denying that.”

Sorry, minister, it wasn’t climate change that caused the latest bushfires which have so far destroyed nine homes in Victoria, and it wasn’t climate change that killed almost 200 people in the Black Saturday fires ten years ago.

The real culprit is green ideology which opposes the necessary hazard reduction of fuel loads in national parks and which prevents landholders from clearing vegetation around their homes.

Jinks Creek Winery was destroyed after a bushfire engulfed the Bunyip state forest. Picture: Stuart McEvoy / The Australian

The ongoing poor management of national parks and state forests in Victoria and green obstruction of fire mitigation strategies has led to dangerously high fuel loads over the past decade.

That means that when fires do inevitably break out they are so intense that they are devilishly difficult for firefighters to contain. As a federal parliamentary inquiry heard in 2003, if you quadruple the ground fuel, you get a 13-fold increase in the heat generated by a fire.

Locals know the truth. Andrew Clarke, owner of Jinks Creek Winery, which has been destroyed by a fire which raged out of the Bunyip State Forest, “begged” for fuel reduction burns to protect his property.

“I’ve been begging them [Forest Fire Management Victoria] for 20 years to burn off the state forest at the back of our place and still to this day it hasn’t happened,” he told the ABC’s Country Hour.

Clarke said a planned burn-off was called off because of concerns about nesting birds.

So how did that work out for the birds?

Hundreds of emergency workers have worked across Victoria throughout the week to bring fires under control. Picture: AAP / David Crosling

Just three weeks ago, Victoria’s former chief fire officer Ewan Waller warned that state forest fuel loads were reaching deadly, Black Saturday levels. No one paid any attention.

But you can bet Premier Daniel Andrews will hide behind the climate change furphy.

Parroting green lies suits politicians because then they can avoid blame for their own culpability.

The Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission criticised the Victorian government for its failure to reduce fuel loads in state forests. It recommended more than doubling the amount of hazard reduction burns.

Instead, in the last three years, alone, the Andrews government has slashed the amount of public land being hazard reduced by almost two thirds.

It’s a crime.

The wonder is that the Morrison government is helping him with his alibi.

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32 thoughts on “Green ideology, not climate change, makes bushfires worse

  • March 10, 2019 at 9:26 am
    Permalink

    The Hon Melissa Price
    Federal Minister for the Environment
    Canberra, ACT

    Dear Minister

    I noted your comment in the media that the recent Victorian bushfires are the “result of climate change”.

    It is regrettable that you should make this statement, because not only is it incorrect, it excuses the Victorian government and parks bureaucracy for serious mismanagement. People who know about bushfires have been saying for the last 5 years that Victoria is headed for another Black Saturday, and not because the world’s mean annual temperature has gone up a degree or two. It is, above all, due to inattention to escalating fuel levels in the bush.

    A further problem in blaming climate change is that this does not provide a short-term answer for an existing threat.

    I draw your attention to the attached article, published recently at Quadrant On Line. This dismisses the claim that current bushfires are the result of climate change and points out the futility of trying to fix the bushfire problem by fixing the climate.

    Coming from Western Australia you are in a perfect position to provide leadership in the matter of bushfire management. We are the leading jurisdiction in Australia, and are the envy of bushfire experts around the country. The least helpful thing you can do is to adopt the “greenie” line on bushfires. This has never worked and can never work. On the contrary, as Environment Minister you should be promoting:

    1. The key importance of effective bushfire management in combatting environmental damage such as incineration of wildlife, soil erosion, loss of landscape beauty, destruction of heritage and recreation facilities;

    2. The need to address the bushfire threat now, not wait 30 years for the climate to be fixed.

    3. The cost/benefit of fuel reduction burning as a means of minimising bushfire damage at optimum cost to the community;

    4. The critical need to reduce the risk of death and injury from fires, especially to firefighters; and

    5. The need to implement the findings of bushfire inquiries, including the Black Saturday Royal Commission, and the House of Representatives and the Senate Inquiries into bushfires, all of which put the case for more pre-emptive management (including fuels management) rather than relying on suppression. If you have not studied the report of the Senate Inquiry you need urgently to do so, as it was a comprehensive and intelligent work.

    I would welcome an invitation to discuss these issues with you. I am prepared to travel to Merredin to meet you in your electoral office. If this is not suitable, perhaps you would like to talk to Chris Back, a former Senator with a profound understanding of bushfire issues.

    In the meantime, I implore you to withdraw your comments blaming the recent bushfires on climate change. They are unhelpful to Australian firefighters and disrespectful to Australian bushfire scientists and managers … the very people who are putting their lives on the line to protect the Australian environment and communities.

    Yours sincerely

    Roger Underwood AM
    Chairman, The Bushfire Front of WA Inc

  • September 17, 2019 at 10:55 am
    Permalink

    I read this article with interest as new bushfires are currently ravaging NSW and QLD. The predictable propaganda coming from left-leaning politicians is of course that “we” collectively caused the bushfires by driving our kids to school and flying in planes to enjoy holidays or conduct business. This of course is utter tripe. These bushfires have nothing to do with climate getting warmer or drier due to climate change. In fact CO2 in the atmosphere has far more benefits to forests than dangers.

    CO2 causes vegetation to grow bigger and more healthy. It causes the forest undergrowth to grow thicker, and makes the forests more resistant to drought. All of which is excellent for the environment and for the fauna which relies on a healthy forest to thrive. And that’s fine if nobody needs to live in the middle of the forest, because it makes them more dangerous.

    That is why an effective forest management plan is essential for mitigating the danger of bushfires. But of course the Greens and other left-leaning politicians hate the idea of trees being burned, and so they have legislated against managed burn-offs, which would reduce the danger around houses and small towns.

    The best way to fight fires is to fight them before they start! And managed burn-offs are THE most effective way to do that.

    Fortunately for the forest, the extra CO2 in the atmosphere will mean that they recover from fires much more quickly. Not so for humans killed or homes burned through mis-management.

  • November 9, 2019 at 3:57 pm
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    We all know that it is the Green’s and Climate Leftards refusing to build the Dam’s and refusing to back burn that has allowed the current fires to burn. They are finally starting to charge people caught lighting fires, maybe, they should have a good look at the Greenies and Climate idiots and charge them, for loss of life, livestock property etc. It might just make them wake up to the truth

  • November 9, 2019 at 11:54 pm
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    I totally agree with the letter written by Roger Underwood AM
    Chairman, The Bushfire Front of WA Inc, which clearly stated that climate change does not increase the risk if bush fires. It is about time your started listening to experts rather that climate alarmist. You will find that if you keep on taking advise from greenies that you will lose the next election and certainly your seat in parliament. There are a lot more people wanting fuel reduction burning to stop these horrific fires, than those who oppose them. Please listen to your experts that is why you employ them.

  • November 13, 2019 at 9:24 am
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    First, I do believe climate change is exacerbating forest and brush fires. In the past, vegetation that was fed by seasonal rains, did not dry out to the extent it currently does, before the next seasonal rainfall. Nowadays, vegetation grows and little rain follows during the “rainy” season to quell any potential fires.

    At the same time, brush must always be cleared around homes and in areas where excessive brush overgrowth can lead to disastrous consequences. I am not fully understanding the government’s rules and regulations in Australia concerning limitations on brush clearing. In the USA, especially in the state of California and most other western states, it is imperative that brush be cleared seasonally. As far as forests are concerned, there was a time that fires were allowed to burn thus keeping overgrowth to a minimum. That practice ceased years ago due to people moving into Eden and thus not wanting their homes and castles burned to the ground. Obviously, the governments now have to protect these settlements in the forest. Wildlife, at least to my knowledge, has not factored into what is subject to controlled burns or not in the USA. On the other hand, logging is prohibited in nesting areas of the spotted owl. “President” Trump has asked for raking the forest (an insane idea by anyone’s standards!).

    When politics, emotions, and science are thrown into the mix, seldom has a solution been arrived at that satisfies everyone.

  • November 16, 2019 at 6:32 am
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    Michael
    Agreed, Mr Trump’s idea of raking the forest is crazy at best.
    Having said that, the principle behind his ‘raking’ idea might be a land management concept.
    Indigenous Australians used cool burning as a kind of ‘Trump rake’ to manage the land, they may not be too impressed with the comparison but I’m sure that will forgive me (I’m on their side).
    Cool burning is low intensity with low or zero scorch to trees.
    Lightening strikes can achieve this type of fuel management in a natural way but will become too hot because of human intervention in the past.
    Cool burns that leave organic material behind and don’t kill every living thing are way more desirable than a wildfire that totally annihilates everything.
    I thank you for your comment.
    Regards
    Mick Holton

  • December 23, 2019 at 7:54 pm
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    Leave Climate change out of the equation because it always changes and we should worry if it doesn’t.
    Lack of back burning seems to be the problem, but the very dry conditions makes the length of time for burning off lessened. If back burning has been hampered in some other manner this needs to be thoroughly investigated.
    I’m not a fan of the Greens but how can they be implicated with so little power.

    Phil Burge.

  • December 24, 2019 at 5:16 pm
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    What a pain and what a price. We have a sun orbit issue. We have minority control can do this cant do that. Roughly a 3 per cent farming mob. Dangerous dictator dan and the red mob in charge. Im over 70 seen it before in this life. Lock it up and leave it and watch it bite and burn. Urban sprawl into forest areas. Fuel loads that are record. Low rainfall period. Low humidity. Dry Lightning. 1880 saw temps of near 48c in the southern realm. Up north around 400 died of heat stroke temps there were 54 cc close to 130F in the old. Sad for those that have lost all. If its green its good when it turns black best be somewhere else. H

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  • December 28, 2019 at 9:19 pm
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    As a teenager I fought fires started by neighbours, some we thought by cigarettes out the window of passing cars to protect our farming land from outside the farm boundry. My father was a timely burner offerer so that all buildings were well protected firstly by short grazed grass alive or dead (it was burned off too), by burnoffs of longer grass and ploughed land making it impossible for fire to get to the homestead. But, it is the art of when to light it in the season and when in the day – we always lit before dusk so a fire burned slowly and cool and was manageable AND any errant sparks can be spotted before getting away. And to do manageable areas.
    Years later I advised a rural client in a vulnerable position with a great view to get the local fieries to assist a well-timed burn off NOW. Their response was ” I have repeatedly tried but they refuse a permit.” I suggest that some firies have a case to answer to also. My feeling was they had no idea and education was desperately needed. I suggested that my client wrote the firies a notice and if no suitable response, escalate action from there until suitable outcome was reached. I hope their house is still standing.

  • January 3, 2020 at 9:59 am
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    Green ideology is looking after our planet. Climate change is happening even faster now than scientists predicted 10 years ago. Climate change is making bushfires worse, this is now an accepted scientific fact. What we need to do is to reassess how we try to fight and control these fires. The traditional methods don’t seem to be working and we need to change tactics if we are to preserve the Australian environment, industry, farming, tourism and our way of life.

  • January 3, 2020 at 10:41 am
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    Bruce, your views are respected but we must consider that the bushfires are making climate change worse. The unprecedented unlocking of carbon, total destruction of the trees that help to offset emissions. We all must get back to better land management if we are going to make a difference (greens included).

  • January 3, 2020 at 12:26 pm
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    Now for the big question: Who exactly is going to do all this ‘backburning’ (I think they mean hazard reduction burning)? The NPWS? Successive governments have starved them of funds and routinely reduce staffing levels. Our volunteer firefighters? Aren’t they busy enough? Hazard reduction burning using the methods used by our betters who preceded white invasion is a great idea, but they did it routinely as part of their way of life, like when we put out the garbage or do the shopping. The effort would have to be massive and very well funded. No use blaming ‘greenies’ who seem to be credited with way much more political power than they have ever actually had. Land management is simply not funded.

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  • January 5, 2020 at 10:54 am
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    I agree with Roger.

    I think we are seeing unprecedented levels of fire activity as this is matching the unprecedented levels of stupidity we have seen from Government over the past 20 years.

    I live in a built up area of the Sutherland Shire ( Bonnet Bay ) and the level of fuel in the escarpment surrounding this area is the highest I have seen it in the 20 years i have lived in the area, and walk through the bush most days.

    Poor management and removal of dense fuel sources have lead to a very high risk area which would place firefighters and property at great risk if a fire were to ignite in unfavourable conditions.

    The days of people collect dry fuels ( timber ) of the forest floor for personal use have gone, you get a fine for this today when in reality these people in the past have help reduce these built up fuels.

    I believe the existing management plan should be scrapped, it obviously has not worked and will never work. let’s get some traditional owners, experienced fire personnel and land owners to formalise the new policy and Government sit to the side and obverse with the rubber stamp ready.

  • January 5, 2020 at 3:52 pm
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    What an ill-informed article this is. How sad that you should think that this is the right platform to air right wing doctrine. Firstly, climate change is most definitely occurring, and it is because of increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it does increase global temperatures, which in turn does increase the amount out water vapour – another greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. To try to say it’s just a coincidence, and caused by something else is nonsense. The Lavoursier Group, headed by mining and fossil fuel lobbyists have hijacked a scientific realm in their own interest. Secondly, the Greens support hazard reduction burning, just google it yourself. I am not a greenie, vegan, lefty etc., but their policy is clearly stated, so stop playing politics. Thirdly, I’d like to say that there are so many people with “opinions” on climate change, yet very few, certainly none I have ever communicated with, actually UNDERSTAND what climate change IS. They have fanciful references to blogs, none of which are peer reviewed. This article exemplifies the complete lack of understanding of climate change, and the petty politicisation of an important scientifically evidenced subject. While you all bicker and blame lefties, Australia burns.

  • January 5, 2020 at 11:53 pm
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    1. Climate Change is real. It always has and always will change. The current rate of change is the worry.

    2. Australia and especially SE Australia is currently in a hotter/drier trend, if you can find data to dispute BoM CSIRO and MANY other sources I’m sure they would like to see it.

    3. Climate Change does NOT cause fires, but the current trend makes them far more likely to occur and to be more intense.

    4. 90% of fires in Australia are caused by humans ( source- Australian Institute of Criminology ) either deliberately, accidentally or under suspicious ( unknown) circumstances, so limiting access to fire prone areas is a good thing.

    5. Climate Change has markedly reduced the window for fuel reduction burns so they cannot be used as often nor as effectively. Too wet to work or too hot/dry/windy to be safe either side of the window and will continue to do so. The fire season is starting earlier and lasting longer. Check CSIRO and BoM and Fire Services references. Fuel reduction burns should NOT be done if neither safe ( may start an uncontrolled fire ) or deemed to be ineffective. That’s the advice from the experts including State Fire Management representatives.

    6. Contrary to popular belief, the official Australian Greens Fire Management Policy is that they support fuel reduction burns, other fuel reduction methods, establishment and maintenance of fire trails, increased logistical support, funding and training for Fire Services, prioritising prevention of loss of human life and property, recognition of traditional fire control methodology and very much more. Check their website pages, I did and it was an eye opener.

    7. Short to medium term fire prevention measures such as fuel reduction burns and other methods and restricted access to fire prone areas will continue to be of benefit IF carried out safely and appropriately however unless climate change itself is addressed ( and that is a very long term process for which we DO have solutions ) they will eventually be ineffective.

    8. Obviously the Greens not only support those actions but also action on Climate Change. The move to renewable energies makes sense from both economic and environmental viewpoints but there are very many other avenues besides transitioning from fossil fuels which can play a part, however unpalatable they are to right wing shock jocks. Best of both worlds, short, medium and long term. I do not agree with all Green policies but on this issue I concur.

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  • January 6, 2020 at 2:34 pm
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    This one again!
    I’m a little bit baffled why an organisation that supposedly represents the views of rfs NSW is spreading misinformation based on a Victorian story. You know full well that there is virtually no Green tape to conduct hazard reduction burns in NSW, it comes down to local fire chiefs following guidelines and needing the correct conditions.
    Onto the relevance of this article in NSW, you do know Greens have never had power in NSW, and NSW has had liberal leadership since 2011, that is 9 years where any of this mythical green tape could have been “fixed”. And on a federal level we’ve also never had a greens leader, and its been a liberal governments since 2013, so thats 7 years that they could have used to remove the mythical green tape.
    Thanks to climate change the ability to do cool burns is very hard to come by, as it is just not safe to light a fire with how dry it has become, and we done have predictable rain seasons that can mop up the hazard reduction burns for us.
    Something else i must bring up, I have only recently come accross the VFFA website in my search for more balanced opinions of all matters regarding the current fire catastrophes, and I am quite amazed that every news article you share is Murdoch news (generally opinions as opposed to facts) and not balanced with ABC, SBS or Guardian style articles with genuine fact checking and quoting of sources.
    Because of this I’m dubious as to who is behind the VFFA organisation, and why they are only interested in spreading right wing opinion instead of thoroughly researched facts on all matters relating to fire management. The commenters on some of your recent articles have provided far more researched fact than the original Murdoch article.

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  • January 7, 2020 at 3:36 am
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    Yeah, those greenies who actually care about the people. Sure they have some differing policy ideas, (there’s a comment in this thread from someone more informed) but leaving fuel loads to this level isn’t in anyone’s best interest. Everyone seems to be time poor and are so misinformed that they’re ignorant that they just lash out at any convenient scapegoat. It seems similar to the climate of the 30’s in Germany. How would I know? I don’t know, a history book perhaps….
    The link provided is a comment from a volunteer firefighter as well, so it’s always best to obtain a view from a scientist or someone one the ground. Be angry at who they are angry at – they are more informed because they are out there volunteering to put their lives at risk. It’s in their best interest to actually be informed about comments from politicians and their policies.
    Also, disagree with Tony Abbott’s ideology all you want (or agree, it’s your view) but I have much respect for that man.

  • January 7, 2020 at 9:53 am
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    Great comment Michael Lyons. I’d say that is on the money. One more element could be that extra CO2 causing more greening may perversely be counting against Australia. I wonder if more growth might be occurring in addition to less window for burning etc?

    I find it odd that some people are happy to say that CO2 is plant food are also the same people who say that the CO2 is a trace gas and can’t affect climate.

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  • January 13, 2020 at 5:23 am
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    WE ARE SUFFERING THE SAME KIND OF INSANE LEADERSHIP IN CALIFORNIA. OUR STATE IS A CINDER BOX THANKS TO THE SO CALLED CLIMATE CHANGE AGENDA OF THE DEMOCRATS AND ENVIRONMENTALIST CONTROLLING OUR EVERY MOVE HERE. THEY HAVE ELIMINATED THE LOGGING INDUSTRY IN CALIFORNIA. THEY HAVE BANNED CUTTING DOWN SOME TREES. THEY HAVE NOT ENFORCED CLEANING UP OF PRIVATE AND PUBLIC LANDS. I FEEL THAT IT IS NOT ONLY MISMANAGEMENT BUT THEIR PLAN TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH FIRES BURN STRONGER AND MORE DEADLY IN ORDER TO SELL PEOPLE ON THEIR CLIMATE AGENDA.

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