Wed, Jan. 15, 2020
This morning’s showers surprised me as I thought the return to warm air would be dry. But the yoyo weather will continue – warm today, colder tomorrow, and warmer with periods of rain Fri/Sat. Then, Sunday wintry weather arrives. We’ll see below normal temperatures for at least a couple of weeks. The GFS has lost the weak clipper system it was earlier predicting for Tuesday night. Now it’s developing a snow to rain event for Wednesday night and Thursday. Updates will follow.
Due to geographical location, global wind patterns and ocean currents, the West Coast of North America and the East Coast of Australia are both prone to seasonal forest fires. This is nothing new – it’s been going on for thousands of years. Many are putting the blame for this year’s higher than normal fire destruction on “climate change.” Good try, but climate change has been going on forever, just like the fires. Might other things be involved? Of course.
1). Forest maintenance – Like the U.S., Australia bans removal of undergrowth from forest floors. Undergrowth removal eliminates the majority of the fuel for fire growth and rapid spread. Seems to me that undergrowth removal should be priority #1. But, it’s banned. The result is more fires, much more land burned, rapid spread of fires, more wildlife and human deaths… (But, it keeps some environmentalists happy.)
2). Population – Since 1950 Australia’s population has jumped from around 8 million to about 25 million today. As in the U.S., Australians have built many homes in forested areas amplifying the potential death and damage fires can create.
3). Humans- So, we’ve got forests primed to ignite, and many more people living in them. Then you add in the fact that humans are pretty careless. In the U.S., an estimated 85% of all forest fires are caused by humans. I’m guessing it’s about the same down under.
4). Malicious humans. A large number of forest fires are intentionally started by arsonists. U.S. numbers say 21% of our forest fires are arson. As of yesterday, about 155 people have been arrested on arson charges in Australia. An additional (approximately) 300 have been arrested for fire-related offenses.
Forest fires have been occurring for as long as Mother Earth has had forests. Climate change has been happening even longer than that. But, since we homo sapiens arrived about 200,000 years ago, life for forests has become much more hazardous.
Note: The graph below portrays the areal coverage of Australian fire damage for the past 100 years. This year (so far) ranks #3, but 1975 was ten times higher than this year!
Note 2: In 1975 the big climate issue was global cooling and the beginning of the next Ice Age. So, I wonder if that year’s fires were blamed on that.
Note 3: One hectare equals 2.47 acres.