Burn baby burn. It’s a Scummo inferno!

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It’s unprecendented, at News:

New South Wales still has “a long way to go” before the bushfire threat is over, with one particularly dangerous fire still covering 150,000 hectares on its own, and another wave of bad weather on the horizon.

Today the focus also shifts to Queensland, where increasingly windy conditions and temperatures in the mid to high thirties will make firefighters’ job harder.

  • 83 fires are burning in NSW, 50 of which are not contained;
  • One blaze west of Coffs Harbour covers 150,000 hectares, with a perimeter of more than 1000km;
  • At least a dozen homes were damaged or destroyed yesterday;
  • The wind change that caused havoc in NSW yesterday is now moving into QLD;
  • More than 60 fires are burning across the state.

As late as 10pm on Tuesday, there were still 11 fires burning at emergency level. That figure dropped dramatically overnight, and by 7:30am there were none.

The biggest threat is still the Liberation Trail fire west of Coffs Harbour, which is a whopper. That blaze currently covers about 150,000 hectares, has a perimeter longer than 1000km and remains out of control.

David Crowe takes the high ground:

A crisis is supposed to bring out the best in Australians. For too many of our politicians, it only brings out the worst.

The awful sight of Australians fighting extreme danger should jolt politicians out of their tired games about who is to blame for the emergency.

The loss of Australians’ homes, and sometimes their lives, should shame politicians who exploit human misery to score points against their enemies. Yet the politicians cannot help themselves.

Of course they can’t. The AFR begins the political bonfire:

As Australians pieced their lives back together amid summer bushfires and major flooding in four states, Morrison was asked about how climate change was contributing and making the damage worse.

“I acknowledge it’s a factor, of course it is,” he said in response to a question after a speech in February to the National Press Club.

“Australians do, the vast majority of Australians.”

That response – sandwiched between attacks on then Labor leader Bill Shorten and “reckless” emissions targets – stands in contrast to this week, when Morrison opted not to answer questions about the climate link as fires ravaged NSW and Queensland.

“I’m focused on the needs of the people in this room today,” he said, as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian implored journalists to wait until the crisis was over.

Phil Coorey pours righteous petrol on it:

The rest of the world long ago accepted climate change was a reality and grapples with how to combat it.

Here, powerful people in media and politics with no qualifications or expertise whatsoever, continue to ridicule those women and men who have devoted their professional lives to science and fact with no ideological axe to grind.

Even when the people they ridicule are proven right by their predictions, backed up by those on the ground who have to respond to these disasters, the uneducated continue to dismiss their work as that of cranks.

The drought played a significant role in pulling down John Howard in 2007. Scummo knows it, at Domain:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has demanded an end to the bickering over bushfires and climate change after a dramatic escalation in the political attacks when Greens senator Jordon Steele-John accused the two major parties of being “no better than a bunch of arsonists”.

Mr Morrison slapped down Coalition and other politicians for their “unhelpful” remarks after a day of insults traded between the Nationals, the Greens and others over the cause of the fires ravaging NSW and Queensland.

As Paul Kelly issues his usual warning:

The point is that Australia’s action­, while relevant to our own economy, is significant in terms of global warning only for our contrib­ution to global mitigation. If you are alarmed about the impact of climate change on Australia, our landscape, our fires or the Great Barrier Reef, what matters is the extent of global mitigation.

If Morrison had changed policy­, boosted the emission reducti­on targets or moved against the coal industry, nothing would be different in terms of bushfires. The Greens are selling a phony proposition but they have plenty to be guilty about. A decade ago they sank Kevin Rudd’s carbon­ pricing scheme, another example of their manic quest for product discrimination.

However, these are not arguments against Australia doing more. They are arguments against Australia doing more on the basis of false propositions. The certain story is that the politics of climate change will shift dramatically over the next three years and the policy Morrison took to the election in May will not suffice in 2022. That must be obvious to the Liberal and Nationals parties. If they fail to discern this, they will be lost in the political hurricane.

Yes and no. The next election, like the last, will be won and lost in QLD which is where Barnaby Joyce is focused, at The Guardian:

The chief accuser is Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce who says “greens policy” gets in the way “of many of the practicalities of fighting a fire and managing it”.

Among Joyce’s claims, made in several interviews this week, are that Greens policies have made hazard reduction activities more difficult.

This claim, just to be clear, is about the policies of a party that has never been in government.

Joyce also blamed the Greens for “paperwork” that made it harder to carry out hazard reduction activities.

“It’s not burning because they burnt off, it’s burning because they didn’t burn off,” Joyce told SkyNews.

According to Bradstock, Joyce’s claims are familiar but “without foundation.”

“It’s simply conspiracy stuff. It’s an obvious attempt to deflect the conversation away from climate change.”

It’s obvious which side the facts are on. These fires are our climate change future writ large. But it’s still not clear who wins the politics of it. ‘Strong man’ politicians that rely upon fictional world views are often strengethened by adversity as attacks make them appear covered in teflon.

Most of what matters to the next election happens in QLD. The smoke is yet to clear around how irrational is its Coalition preference support.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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Comments

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    What really irks me is that my insurance premiums on my investments (all not near bush) go up because of all of this! You can’t insure for flood, rightly so because if you build in a flood zone then it’s your problem not mine. But you can insure for fire yet we get so much more damage from fires because everyone loves to build in the crappy bush. That sh1ts me.

    • From that logic, insurance company offering coverage for fire is the root cause if the issue. Make home insurance for fire damage illegal, and no more home will be lost!!

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        Well would you build in the bush if it meant there’s a good chance your house will burn down well within 20 years and you lose everything with no chance of compensation? Now that will fix thing, or maybe at least encourage large scale clearing, which is needed.

    • Is it strict reus policy to avoid the bush? Brazilians are known for their strict bush-clearing policies. As evidenced in the Amazon.

  2. I’m rock climbing in the national parks a lot and I can tell you that there is decades of built up foliage, scrub, dead logs etc that are drier than ever through summer down south. I spent a bit of time in NT years ago and at the time the indigenous burnt off all the greenery, dead logs etc every year starting in late march/april as soon as the rains stopped. Why don’t we do this down south??? For once in my life I agree with the tomato! I had some backlash from this comment yesterday but no one can explain why there are decades worth of dry as hell dead wood lying around in our forests and NPs.

    • Because northern NSW is not NT. I am from the area. My family is from the area going back 150 years. It is NOTHING like the dry tropics of the NT. I’ve bushwalk all over the nymboida, guy fawkes and dorrigo areas where the worst fires are.

      Much of it is subtropical gondwanna rainforest, or tablelands forest with high rainfall, lots of rivers and creeks.

      The gondwanna rainforests around bellingen and inland Byron bay are 80 million years old. They have NEVER burned. It’s not like euchy scrub. If it burns it all dies and never grows back.

      The problem is it is becoming dryer with stronger tropical storm events. Little changes have been noticeable over the last 30 years. Species like geckos which you never saw are now common.

      The beetrooter is an idiot. This is exactly what you see during mass extinction events – something changes in the climate system, often almost small and imperceptible, which leads to regional ecosystems collapsing. Great barrier reef bleaching, gondwanna rainforests burning, wetlands in Brazil burning, gulf stream distortions, Greenland and poles melting, 2000 year old olive trees dieing enmass in the med. Ocean acidification killing off shell fish off coast of US and Canada.

      Collectively these are all clear signs of the early stages of a mass extinction.

    • But the dead stuff in wet temperate rainforests usually has a lot of moisture in it also. It’s not a case of just removing it and yer sweet because the understory and the trees above kind of rely on the whole cycle of breakdown and renewal.

      Thing is. Places are burning that never burn. Forest is burning that doesn’t burn. See the tassie tarkine fires that ripped through in 2016. Trees there (nothofagus) didn’t evolve to burn every other year. They evolved in a wetter environment that doesn’t burn too often.

      The simple fact that fires are burning in places that don’t burn, puts paid to the idea that it’s just because we’re not “burning back enough”.

      • “We’re not backburning enough” is a convenient straw man for continued mis direction (read: political sh%t f$ckery) by the skeptical f$ckwits or those captured by fossil fuel vested interests

        it’s an easy way to lay blame at “the greens”

        In order of magnitude (fact check), let’s reduce coal use, transition to EVs, more solar PV and feed back, and lower reliance on non plant based diet before we rely on that trope

        Deary me

  3. Climate change – as the name implies – does not mean “drier”, it does not even mean more drought. I wish people who THINK they are on the right side would at least understand the very basics of the science.

    FFS its like hearing your position on how great the FTTN will be and how much money it will save only to embarrassingly change course after months of admonishment and denying ever saying otherwise – you’d get on well with Scomo.

    Climate Change, or as its proper title is GREEN HOUSE EFFECT actually means greater entropy in the weather systems through increased HEAT and trapped MOISTURE – hence GREEN HOUSE EFFECT.

    They are called GREEN HOUSE GASSES for a reason – they trap heat- AND moisture. This basically leads to an increase in activity – from a still pot of water to a boiling one with steam if you will.

    The consequences are an expansion of the desert zones and the tropical / temperate zones shift outwards, Sydney may very well become far more tropical (as is predicted) while Queensland will become drier as the desert regions expand.

    The current situation as outlined by the BOM, CSIRO, University of Melbourne and pretty much every single scientific body in the country is NOT a global warming induced event – it is a cyclical part of the polar cycle which is particularly bad as it has coincided with a gulf stream heating event in the Indian Ocean.

    The Sudden Stratospheric Warming event which has caused this is in fact on the more extreme end however there is absolutely NO reason to think that it is global warming related.

    Scomo and their climate denying hubris is indeed repugnant – but spreading outright scientific horse malaka is no better.

    • That’s all great as is your use of capitals, but

      1. Where has the rain gone?
      2. Areas that have never burnt/rarely burnt are simply a) not getting rain and b) getting hotter/drier (witness Terania Creek/Nardi fire)
      3. The spring northern rivers rains have gone. In 8 years we’ve been here there’s been a noticeable drop off (admittedly n=8y is not a reliable long term trend).

      Good luck putting any of the Northern Rivers/MNC fires out or the ranges fires out, without say 100-300mm of rain, stat. Especially for the fires down in the areas where no one can get to, or the peat fires (Wardell).

  4. The QLD dumb angry vote is pretty pervasive. I’m a Queenslander and if the memes shared by my bogan “friends” are anything to go by the fires are just making everyone dig in even further.

    According to one former schoolmate climate change isn’t real and it’s made worse by electric cars because most of the electricity comes from burning coal.

    Yes, these people vote and don’t the Coalition know it!

    • There will be those that will never accept the science. Yet for others it seems to be a confusion of politics and science. They are so tied up in the politics, and the scaremongering (from the extremes of both sides) that the science never really has a chance. The youtube video maker Potholer54 covers the issue of politics muddying the water very well. He often takes both sides to task and keeps repeating the good advice of if it can’t be traced to peer reviewed scientific research, even if it comes from a scientist it shouldn’t be considered knowledge on the topic.

      In 2011 there was an episode of Insight where a climate scientist took questions and replied to a room of skeptics. Sadly, it can sometimes feel that we haven’t progressed much in our ability to discuss the issue, or to get rid of all the misinformation.
      https://youtu.be/6hCRafyV0zI

      • The problem is journalists.
        They aren’t interested in science or public policy.
        They are interested in “journalism”, putting their mark on a story, predictions, false divisions and their twitter page.
        Best way to make progress on climate change would be to ban journalists from reporting on it until people interested in the topic or any topic are attracted to journalism.

        • Really? The problem is journalists?

          So Abbott and his cabal of mind numbingly misanthropic dumb eco terrorists aren’t the issue? Scomo, Craig Kelly et al aren’t the issue? It’s the journos?

          Let me mull that over for maybe 1 second

          Nope. Imma gonna haz blaming the political sh%t f$ckery

          • The journos and pollies are captured by the puppet masters behind the curtain. Miners, banks, and other ponzi peddlers like triguboff.

      • (from the extremes of both sides)

        Do not fall into the false equivalence ”balance” trap.

        “Extreme” people on one “side” are difficult to find and have little influence.

        “Extreme” people on the other “side” are writing policy and enacting legislation.

        • Earlier this year the American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that the world would end in 12 years should we not act now. She has since taken that back yet it is hyperbole.

          It is a crisis if extreme magnitude that doesn’t need to be misrepresented by those who are frustrated by the lack of action. All that does is create sideshows and distractions.

          The political blame is a separate thing to the misinformation (from ignorance, passion or intentional) about the science.

  5. “The Greens are selling a phony proposition but they have plenty to be guilty about. A decade ago they sank Kevin Rudd’s carbon­ pricing scheme,”
    Yes they did, to their great shame.
    But what Paul Kelly ommits is that the Greens did support Labor’s emission reduction legislation that PM Tony Abbott abolished.
    Iam fast approaching the point where I would support the abolition of politicians, and support a benevolent dictator, if only he could be kept benevolent.

    • I will never forgive Bob Brown for sinking the Rudd government’s democratically mandated ETS. Being in government is hard, you have to choose where to compromise or you risk getting 100% of nothing, which is what we ended up with. If all you want to do is protest then stay out of politics and stick to demonstrations.

      • If it was “democratically mandated” them what the Greens said or did would have made no difference.

      • Torchy spot on. Being in government requires compromise, and producing legislation that lasts requires compromise.
        Both Howard’s Workchoices and the carbon tax that Gillard took as a price of Green support only lasted one Parliament and then the next election produced a Parliament that voted it out with speed.
        Every Parliament builds on its inheritance from its predecessors, and the current fashion of ideological purity and posing simply means that each side tears down their inheritance and consequently nothing stays built.

    • They sank the Ruddsters carbon credits trading scheme because it was a neoliberal market based approach rather than a simple and straightforward tax.

    • The (fake) Greens aren’t interested in saving the environment, they’re interested in frantically virtue signalling to the rest of the world how noble they are (to the detriment of our enviroment).

      Bandt’s politicial opportunism yesterday was as disgusting as any of the other players in this whole thing.

  6. Jumping jack flash

    ““It’s not burning because they burnt off, it’s burning because they didn’t burn off,” Joyce told SkyNews.
    According to Bradstock, Joyce’s claims are familiar but “without foundation.”
    “It’s simply conspiracy stuff. It’s an obvious attempt to deflect the conversation away from climate change.””

    I may be missing something fundamental here, but at the risk of supporting the beetrooter, at least he has proposed some solutions to managing climate change.

    The hand-wringing greenies are all shouting “climate change, climate change!” and “climate emergency nao!” but has anyone stopped to think exactly how that would actually look when implemented?

    “managing climate change” is the new buzzword that everyone utters, but nobody stops to think how it will actually look once climate change management has started.

    It seems to me that maintaining fire containment lines through backburning is a [climate change management] strategy that has been used before rather successfully to contain bushfires [that have arguably been intensified due to climate change].

  7. 1851 – 12 million acres – 25% of Victoria burned – 80% of fires are started by humans – these fires are just as a much a result of rapid population growth. Worlds been getting hotter for circa 20,000 years – it’s called the Holocene period.