Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bushfires, Climate Change and the Insane Policies of Australia's Federal Government

Although you would never know it by looking at the policies of Australia's ruling government, there is a clear connection between bushfires and climate change. January's record breaking heat waves have created the right conditions for a number of Australian bushfires that broke out in February. High temperatures dried out the landscape and contributed to the spread of fires. The flames are being fanned by high winds. The largest bushfires in and around Snowy River, National Park, are producing dense clouds of smoke. The three largest fires have already burned around one hundred thousand hectares (this figure does not include a number of other smaller fires).

Fire officers in the state of Victoria are urging residents to be prepared to evacuate and a town of 3,000 is considering evacuating in Queensland after two years with almost no rainfall.

At one point Prime Minister Tony Abbott's climate denying Federal Government rejected claims that bushfires are linked to climate change. However, a report by scientists indicates the two are indeed linked. At the end of last year Abbott's top business adviser, Maurice Newman referred to the "delusion" of global warming. These comments came as Australia ended its hottest year in more than a century of data collection, with 2013 eclipsing the record set in 2005. The new government is working hard to increase coal exports including a terminal that endangers the Great Barrier Reef.

The Climate Council, which was called the Climate Commission before it was de-funded by the new Government, says climate change is increasing the probability of extreme fire weather days and is lengthening the fire season. Although the Climate Commission was dismantled by the new government, its members sought public donations to continue their work and now call themselves the Climate Council.

It is hardly difficult to understand that greenhouse gases, like emissions from coal plants, make the world (and Australia) hotter, and drier and this increases fire risks and fuels larger burns.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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