In Australia: The Stupid, It Burns.
October 23, 2013
As people in fire prone areas across New South Wales review their survival plans or flee for their lives, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he is convinced there is no link between bushfires and climate change.
“Fire is a part of the Australian experience,” Mr Abbott told Melbourne radio listeners. “It has been since humans were on this continent…. Climate change is real as I have often said and we should take strong action against it but these fires are certainly not a function of climate change. They are a function of life in Australia.”
The damage and destruction the bushfires have caused is unprecedented for this time of year, NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
His remarks come as firefighters battle two emergency fire situations at Linksview Rd in Springwood and at Gateshead, with the blaze at Stockrington Road at Minmi downgraded to “watch and act”.
“Never before have we seen the extent of damage and destruction and wide-scale fire activity at this time of the year,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.
According to David Bowman, professor of forest ecology at the University of Tasmania, who has studied bushfires for more than 30 years, bushfire behavior is showing signs of change.
“The problem with Australia is that the records are pretty shallow, which makes it really difficult to talk conclusively about any of the fire activity. But when you piece everything together there’s some very convincing evidence.
“Even the firefighters are reporting really unusual behavior,” said Bowman, adding that firefighters are fighting bigger and more aggressive fires.
“Normally at night — and this is borne out by firefighters in the United States — the fire will quell as the temperature cools. But firefighters are saying that because of the heat, bushfires are burning just as fiercely at night. It’s all getting pretty worrying.”
He said duration was also a factor that was changing in bushfire behavior.
“It’s no big deal to have a fire in October but to have one that has burned like this for more than a week at this level of intensity is unprecedented.