Showing posts with label bushfires. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bushfires. Show all posts

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

It appears that almost singlehandedly Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison may have sunk his own government.


"Around 77.8 per cent of the population reported indirect exposure, by having a friend or family member that had property damage; friend/family that had property threatened; had their travel/holiday plans affected; were exposed to the physical effects of smoke; or felt anxious or worried. This equates to around 15.4 million adults." ["Exposure and the impact on attitudes of the 2019-20 Australian Bushfires" 2020]

In January 2020 the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods and the Social Research Centre collected data from more than three thousand Australian adults from the probability sample ‘Life in Australia’ about their exposure to the bushfires that occurred across the spring and summer of late 2019 and into early 2020. 

Researchers also asked about a range of attitudes towards the environment, institutions, and political issues. 

Data from the January 2020 ANU poll was able to be linked to previous polls at the individual level.

This is the result........

Biddle, N, Edwards, B, Herz, D & Makkai, T, (2020) "Exposure and the impact on attitudes of the 2019-20 Australian Bushfires":

Abstract 

The bushfires that occurred over the 2019/20 Australian spring and summer were unprecedented in scale and wide in their geographic impact. 

Between 20 January and 3 February 2020, the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods and the Social Research Centre collected data from more than three thousand Australian adults about their exposure to the bushfires, as well as a range of other attitudes and beliefs. 

We estimate that the vast majority of Australians (78.6 per cent) were impacted in one way or another either directly, through their family/friends, or through the physical effects of smoke. 

Furthermore, we estimate that around 2.9 million adult Australians had their property damaged, their property threatened, or had to be evacuated. 

This is the first estimate of self-reported impacts on that scale from a nationally representative, probability-based survey. 

Our survey findings also show that subjective wellbeing amongst the Australian population has declined since the start of spring 2019, people are less satisfied with the direction of the country, and have less confidence in the Federal Government. 

People are more likely, however, to think that the environment and climate change are issues and a potential threat to them, with a significant decline in the proportion of people who support new coal mines. 

By linking individuals through time, we are also able to show that some of these changes are attributable to exposure to the bushfires.

DOCUMENT Exposure_and_impact_on_attitudes_of_the_2019-20_Australian_Bushfires_publication.pdf (PDF685.59 KB):


General satisfaction with life before and after the bushfire season 

In the October 2019 ANUpoll 65.2 per centsaid they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the way the country is heading. By January 2020 this had declined to 59.5 per cent of adult Australians. 

Over the same period, there was a small (but significant) average decline in life satisfaction from 7.05 (on a scale from 0 to 10) to 6.9. 

Levels of confidence in institutions 

Confidence in the federal government declined by 10.9 percentage points from October 2019 to 27.3 per cent by January 2020. 

Confidence in other institutions was quite stable over the period, and higher than for the Federal Government. In January 2020: 

• 48.8 per cent of the population had confidence in the public service (52.1 per cent in October 2019); 

• 73.8 per cent had confidence in the police (75.8 per cent in October 2019); 

• 40.4 per cent had confidence in the State/Territory Government where they lived (not asked in 2019); and 

• 93.0 per cent reported confidence in organisations responsible for firefighting in regional or rural areas (not asked in 2019). 

Voting patterns between October 2019 and January 2020 

The per cent of people who said they would vote for the Coalition if an election was held that day declined from 40.4 per cent in October 2019 to 34.8 per cent in January 2020. 

The largest relative increase (8.8 per cent to 10.5 per cent) was for those who would vote for a party other than the Coalition, Labor, or the Greens. 

Views on party leaders between June 2019 and January 2020 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s average rating declined from 5.25 to 3.92 out of 10. 

Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese’s average rating increased from 4.87 to 5.04. 

Changes in attitudes towards the environment 

49.7 per cent of people reported aspects of the environment as the most important issue or second most important issue facing Australia in January 2020 compared to 41.5 per cent in October 2019. 

Reporting fires, natural disasters or extreme weather as the most or second most important issue were close to non-existent in October 2019. This increased to 10.2 percent by January 2020. 

Concern about most specific issues increased from 2008 to January 2020, with the greatest increase for: 

• loss of native vegetation or animal species or biodiversity (a 13 percentage point increase); 

• drought and drying (a 9 percentage point increase). 

Support for new coal mines have declined since the May 2019 election. In June 2019 45.3 per cent said yes to the question ‘In your opinion, should the Government allow the opening of news coal mines?’. This had declined to 37.0 per cent in January 2020.

Capital cities versus the rest 

There is majority support by residents in both capital and those living outside of capital cities that global warming is very serious, and that global warming will be a threat to them. These views are more strongly held by capital city residents. 

Only 35.6 per cent of capital and 40.1 per cent of non-capital city residents support new coal mines and there is no statistically significant difference in views between the two. 

Did exposure to the bushfires affect changes in satisfaction, confidence or voting intentions? 

Direct or indirect exposure to bushfires did not statistically affect changes in life satisfaction between October and January. 

Indirect exposure to the bushfires affected levels of confidence in government and satisfaction with the direction of the country. Those exposed reported greater declines in both confidence and satisfaction. 

Although there was no significant direct affect from the bushfires on reporting a change in voting intention, exposure to the bushfires was associated with a significant decline in the likeability of Prime Minister Scott Morrison......

It appears that almost singlehandedly Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott John Morrison - aka #ScottyFromMarketing - may have sunk his own government.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

February 2020 - a month of fish kills and fish rescues in New South Wales



The Northern Star, 18 February 20120, pp 1-2:

Dr Matt Landos, a local veterinarian who specialises in aquatic species, recently warned of a potential fish kill. 

He previously said the long, dry spell had led to a build-up of monosulfidic black ooze in agricultural drains within the catchment. The drains were built long ago to empty wetlands to open land to farming. 

On Sunday, he took his son to North Creek to find his prediction had come true. “Nineteen years on from the first major kill, and the science on drainage and wetland restoration sits largely gathering dust, waiting for action to fix our landscape,” he said. 

“The solution is to pay our farmers to restore drained wetlands.” A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Primary Industries said DPI Fisheries had investigated fish death events at Rocky Mouth Creek and North Creek. 

“Mullet, bream and whiting are the main species impacted, the spokesperson said.“The suspected cause of the current events is due to critically low dissolved oxygen levels.”

Earlier in the month on 7 February at Fine Flower Creek in the Clarence River catchment there was a report of approximately 150 to 200 dead fish including Mullet and Perch. Likely cause being low dissolved oxygen within an isolated pool receiving minimal inflows.

Further down the coast on 11 February at Clybucca Creek in the Macleay River estuary there was a report of thousands of dead fish including Garfish, Mullet, Blackfish, Silver Biddy, Flathead, Bream and Whiting. Recent rainfall events have caused flooding of the backswamp system resulting in deoxygenated and low pH water, killing fish upstream and downstream of the gates.


That same day at Killick Creek, Kempsey, there was also a report of thousands of dead fish including Yellowfin Bream, Mullet, Longtail Eels and Flathead. Stressed fish were observed gasping at the water surface indicating low dissolved oxygen levels present. Cause was episodic rainfall events that caused short and sharp flow. This can cause a rapid reduction in dissolved oxygen levels due to large volumes of organic material entering the river system.


On 5 February Cockle Creek at Teralba, Lake Macquarie there was a report of  hundreds of dead Mullet. Likely cause being low dissolved oxygen within an isolated pool receiving minimal inflows.

16 February at North Creek, Prospect and Chickiba Lakes at Ballina saw a report of thousands of dead fish including Bream, Leather Jacket and Trumpeter. Cause unknown.

By 18 &19 February the Richmond River had suffered two fish kill events. The first at Woodburn Bridge when hundreds  of mullet died due to the reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels caused by significant rainfall/flooding event on floodplain, followed by hot weather, leading to discharge of large volumes of critically low DO water entering the waterway via creeks and drains.The second at the East Wardell Boat Ramp with a report of hundreds of dead fishing including Bream, Flathead, Garfish, Whiting, Mullet, Herring ranging from 10cm to 40cm. The cause was a reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels caused by significant rainfall/flooding event on floodplain, followed by hot weather, leading to discharge of large volumes of critically low DO water entering the waterway via creeks and drains.

Also on 19 February at Alumny Creek, South Arm and Shark Creek in the Clarence Valley there were reports of thousands of dead fish including mullet and eels, due to the reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels caused by significant rainfall/flooding event on floodplain, followed by hot weather, leading to discharge of large volumes of critically low DO water entering the waterway via creeks and drains.

A total of 24 fish kill events occurred in NSW coastal catchments in February 2020, while there were 6 fish kill events in the Murray-Darling Basin involving the death of many hundreds of dead wild fish.


See: NSW Dept. Primary Industries (DPI), Fish Kills in NSW for full details.

In order to save as many fish as possible from the record-breaking drought, bushfires and post-fire water pollution after rainfall, rescues have taken place in the Gwydir, Border Rivers, Macquarie, Lachlan, and Upper Murray catchments in the Murray-Darling Basin, and in the Clarence and Richmond River catchments on the coast.

Threatened fish species were captured and relocated to areas where these fish would have a greater chance of surviving or sent to government hatcheries and Taronga Western Plains Zoo where they will form the backbone of captive breeding programs.

DPI Fisheries states it has rescued more than 5,000 native fish from all corners of the state, since operations began in September 2019 with the rescue of Murray Cod, Golden Perch and other native fish species in the drying Menindee Lakes.

Those fish rescued to date include: approximately 1,630 Olive Perchlet, 740 Southern Pygmy Perch, 292 Oxleyan Pygmy Perch, 107 Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon, 98 Eastern Freshwater Cod, 79 Silver Perch and 34 Eel-tailed Catfish and, sadly only 9 Macquarie Perch.

Community members are encouraged to report sightings of threatened fish to help identify where actions may be required to prevent fish deaths and, to report any fish deaths or observations through the Fishers Watch phoneline on 1800 043 536. 

For more information or to report a threatened species, download the FishSmart app, phone the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536, or visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing.

A Clarence Valley Infocus Competiton 2019 winner


There were five winners in the 2019 Clarence Valley Infocus Competiton.

The photograph of one of those winners, Samantha Clarke of South Grafton, caught the eye of The Daily Examiner on 14 February 2020:

"Yuraygir Phoenix"

This photograph was taken on the September 2019 fireground near Brooms Head in the Lower Clarence Valley.

All five winners will be showcased as part of the plunge Art and Culture festival at the Grafton Regional Gallery and Ferry Park in Maclean during April 2020.

Friday, 21 February 2020

A NSW Government independent expert inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfire season providing input to NSW ahead of the next bushfire season is underway - how to make a submission


NSW Government, 3-10 February 2020: 

Dave Owens APM, former Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police, and Professor Mary O’Kane AC, Independent Planning Commission Chair and former NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, are leading the six-month inquiry, which is reviewing the causes of, preparation for and response to the 2019-20 bushfires. 

Submissions for the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry are now open. 

Your response and feedback will help to inform the Inquiry's report...  

Use the online form below to make a submission. You can also provide your feedback by:
The deadline for submissions is 27 March 2020, but this can be extended for those directly impacted by the fires.
Terms of Reference 

The Inquiry is to consider, and report to the Premier on, the following matters. 

1. The causes of, and factors contributing to, the frequency, intensity, timing and location of, bushfires in NSW in the 2019-20 bushfire season, including consideration of any role of weather, drought, climate change, fuel loads and human activity. 

2. The preparation and planning by agencies, government, other entities and the community for bushfires in NSW, including current laws, practices and strategies, and building standards and their application and effect. 

3. Responses to bushfires, particularly measures to control the spread of the fires and to protect life, property and the environment, including: 
  • immediate management, including the issuing ofpublicwarnings 
  • resourcing, coordination and deployment 
  • equipment and communication systems. 

4. Any other matters that the inquiry deems appropriate in relation to bushfires. 

And to make recommendations arising from the Inquiry as considered appropriate, including on: 

5. Preparation and planning for future bushfire threats and risks. 

6. Land use planning and management and building standards, including appropriate clearing and other hazard reduction, zoning, and any appropriate use of indigenous practices. 

7. Appropriate action to adapt to future bushfire risks to communities and ecosystems. 

8. Emergency responses to bushfires, including overall human and capital resourcing. 

9. Coordination and collaboration by the NSW Government with the Australian Government, other state and territory governments and local governments. 

10. Safety of first responders. 

11. Public communication and advice systems and strategies.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Has Australia lost another species to climate change?


The Guardian, 15 February 2020:

Drought, bushfires and rainstorms turn Australian rivers black

Luke Pearce had arrived at Mannus Creek for a three-day mission to rescue the Murray-Darling Basin’s last population of Macquarie perch.

For 10 years Pearce had visited this spot on the edge of the Snowy Mountains that, just weeks earlier, was ravaged by fire. There had been rain and the creek was flowing fast.

But as Pearce and his colleagues stood on the bank – nets at the ready – the water turned “to a river of black porridge”.

We got there at about midday with two teams. But we were too late,” he says.

Pearce is a fisheries manager in the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. A week earlier, he had caught nine of the endangered perch and taken them to the tanks at Narrandera Fisheries Centre.

But Pearce says nine was not enough to be confident they could breed enough in captivity to replenish the river. About 100 specimens would be be ideal, but Pearce says the fish are in such low numbers that he was hoping for 20. Hence the rescue mission on 20 January.

It was a front of black water coming down,” Pearce says. “The water was pretty bad to start with, but it went from green to inky black.

It was a moment of complete despair and, really, a feeling of a missed opportunity. Maybe if we’d got there four or five hours earlier we may have been able to get one or two more.”

An electronic probe in the water monitoring the oxygen levels dropped to show zero within hours, Pearce says.

Watching those oxygen levels drop like that I had grave fears we could have lost all the fish in that system. It was devastating having worked there for such a long time to then potentially lose all this.”

The river was too black to see any fish, but crayfish, shrimp and mayfly larvae were crawling out.

What happened at Mannus Creek is one example of what scientists have described as a “triple whammy” hitting rivers on Australia’s east coast and inland.

Drought and a long-term drying has delivered a cascade of mass fish kills since late 2018, with low river flows, low oxygen and algal blooms. Authorities and politicians warned repeatedly in 2019 that ongoing drying would see more mass fish kills.

Then Australia’s bushfire crisis struck across catchments. Now heavy rain has washed sludge and ash into rivers, robbing the remaining fish of oxygen.

Hundreds of thousands of fish have died in multiple events – some caused by lack of water, and some caused by downpours running over burned catchments.

At one time, Macquarie perch was one of the most abundant native fish in the Murray-Darling system – prized by anglers and also commercial fishers.

But a NSW government assessment of the fish in 2008 wrote the building of dams and weirs had compromised spawning areas and blocked the fish’s movement. Overfishing, pollution and predation by introduced species like redfin perch had also caused numbers to plummet.

When Luke Pearce returned to Mannus Creek after the fires he was confronted with a scene of carnage. Photograph: Luke Pearce


Read the full article here.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Quote of the Week


"The question you should all be asking is why should the PM have tax -payer funded air purifiers, while ppl in public housing have spent the summer choking on bushfire smoke?" [Asher Wolf, Twitter, 9 February 2020]

Friday, 14 February 2020

NSW Northern Rivers learning the hard way that state-owned Forestry Corporation of NSW is a bad neighbour


ABC News, 11 February 2020: 

When the Busby's Flat Road fire ripped through Wendy Pannach's Rappville farm in northern New South Wales last October she assumed that neighbours would share in the cost of replacing boundary fencing. 

Two neighbours — a private landholder and a company — did agree to work together, but the state-owned Forestry Corporation of NSW has refused to contribute anything despite her desperate pleas. 

Ms Pannach initially thought that it may cost her up to $100,000 to repair and replace all the fire damaged and destroyed internal and boundary fencing. 

But now, with support from charity BlazeAid, it is expected to be far less, and the shared cost of the 1.3-kilometre boundary fencing with Forestry Corp would be minimal. 

"I am working to design the fencing to maximize how much BlazeAid can do in terms of supplying labour," she said. 

"Originally it was looking at $20,000, probably Forest Corp's share would probably now be about $5,000. It's not a lot of money. 

"But if there was no other support, and with the added cost of all of the other boundary and internal fences I have to replace it, it makes a difference." 

Ms Pannach is hoping that a Commonwealth natural disaster recovery grant of up to $75,000 will help cover costs as she is ineligible for NSW disaster relief. 

But she is concerned that farmers affected by future disasters may not receive access to similar funding....

MP admits NSW Govt not 'very good neighbour' 

The state Member for Clarence, Nationals' MP Chris Gulaptis, who met Ms Pannach at a food industry group meeting in Grafton, agreed that his Government needs to do a better job at managing its forestry estate. 

"It's a legitimate concern that she has, and other landowners have, who share boundaries with government land, whether it be national parks or state forests," Mr Gulaptis said. 

"The Government isn't very good neighbour, to put it quite bluntly, and it needs to be a better neighbour. I think that Forest Corp needs to look at managing its estate a lot better than what it does.".....

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison doesn't have to suffer the effects of prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke. How good is that?



Kirribilli House, Sydney, situated on Kirribilli Point with an uninterrupted view eastwards across Sydney Harbour is an official residence of the Prime Minister of Australia.

Prime Minister & MP for Cook Scott Morrison moved into this large, harbour-side residence in September 2018.

I believe there is air conditioning in rooms on the bedroom floor, but not in the well-ventilated rooms on the ground floor.

By June 2019 it appears that Scotty From Marketing had his rent-free residence set up just the way he liked it, courtesy of the taxpayer dollar.

The Daily Telegraph, 9 February 2020:

Taxpayers also coughed up more than $3000 during the 2018-19 summer for four Dyson fans but can be reassured they came with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, ensuring the Morrisons weren’t bothered by harmful bushfire smoke particles.

Apparently such an air filter which retails at $799 per unit will automatically purify a whole room.

  • Automatically detects and reports air quality levels in real time on PM2.5, PM10, VOC and NO2
  • Activated carbon filters remove gases. Sealed HEPA filters capture 99.95% of ultrafine particles such as allergens and pollutants
  • ...delivers over 290 litres per second of smooth, yet powerful airflow – circulating purified air throughout the whole room
  • Automatically senses, captures and projects – then reports to your Dyson Link app
  • Adjustable oscillation angle from 45° to 350°, to help project purified air around the whole room
  • Purifies all year round. Cools you in summer
  • Purifies without the draught
  • Night-time mode Monitors and purifies using its quiet settings, with a dimmed display
  • Remote control
Seems Morrison had his primary residence well kitted out for the predicted 2019 severe fire season months before the bushfires actually struck.

The fire season commenced for me on 17 August 2019 but didn’t start to really kick off in a big way until around four weeks later, when I was living under this thick bushfire smoke below for weeks on end….

The Daily Examiner


Unlike Scott Morrison, I live in a small rented unit with no air conditioning and on an income so low that I can only dream of owning even one Dyson air purifier.

So when the hot, thick smoke from the bushfires seeped through the edges of my home’s window and door frames, when I could not clear this smoke as opening any window or door just let in more smoke, when my eyes began to sting, my throat hurt, my head ache, my already compromised respiratory system struggled and the pain in my tight chest became so bad that I thought I might be having a heart attack – I had no way of pressing a remote control button to relieve my distress with a Dyson.

Bushfire smoke blew over me to varying degrees for four months, reducing any remaining sense of wellbeing and restricting my ability to move outside the confines of my home, while Prime Minister Morrison called for patience and calm and his deputy prime minister told the media; "Yes, the smoke is a problem but smoke, as it always does, will blow away."

The smoke did eventually go away, but my ability to breathe easily most of the time has not returned in its absence and I fear it never will.

But that’s OK – after all Scott Morrison can play backyard cricket on Kirribilli House lawns, sip wine of an evening on the verandahs or stroll outside to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks – safe in the knowledge that he can return to the air conditioning and the four air purifiers I helped pay for.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

NSW Bushfires 3 Feburary 2020 Infrastructure Impact Statement



SevicesNSW is inviting residents & business premises destroyed by bushfire to register for a free cleanup of their property



Residents on the NSW North Coast and elsewhere in the state should ring ServicesNSW on 13 77 88 to take advantage of the post-bushfire cleanup offer set out in the media release below.

I strongly suggest that those eligible for this cleanup of residential or business premises register immediately, as the Morrison Government has recently demonstrated that it will repurpose bushfire recovery funding at the drop of a hat and this program might just end prematurely with little notice to bushfire victims if federal funding is reduced or terminated.

Office of the Prime Minister, media release, 30 January 2020:

The Morrison and Berejiklian Governments today announced they will share the costs on a 50:50 basis for the clean-up of residential and commercial properties destroyed by the recent bushfires in NSW.

This follows the successful approach adopted by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments following the Black Saturday bushfires.

The cost of the NSW clean-up is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, though a definitive number cannot be settled until the fires have ceased and sites are assessed.

As part of recovery efforts the NSW Government has also selected Laing O’Rourke Australia as the lead contractor to undertake the clean-up.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Commonwealth Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro, Commonwealth Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funding agreement would give people more certainty as the recovery process continues.

This is an important step to get the clean-up and rebuilding process moving to help people get back on their feet,” the Prime Minister said.

We know many people are still battling these blazes but where the fire-front has passed we’re deploying $2 billion through our National Bushfire Recovery Agency to help people rebuild their homes and communities.”

The destruction caused by these fires is unprecedented and the process of recovery and rebuilding will take time, but I want people to know, we will be with them every step of the way,” the Premier said.

Government is picking up the bill for the clean-up, at no cost to owners, so if you’re uninsured, this is one less thing to worry about and if you are insured, it means you will be able to use every dollar of your policy to rebuild.”

Treasurer Frydenberg said the speed at which agreement was reached between the Commonwealth and the NSW government was not only a testament to the working relationship between the two levels of government but that of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.

An unprecedented joint effort has and is required to assist with the recovery, rebuilding and future resilience of local communities,” Treasurer Frydenberg said.

The National Bushfire Recovery Agency has played a key role across the board ensuring the Commonwealth’s resources are reaching the communities when and where they are needed.”

The Deputy Premier said the clean-up was a mammoth task but that he was confident the partnership with Laing O’Rourke will see properties cleared and the rebuild begin as soon as possible.

With 2,399 homes destroyed and more than 10,000 buildings damaged or destroyed all up, we have a long journey ahead of us,” the Deputy Premier said.

Despite the enormity of the job, Laing O’Rourke has indicated the majority of properties will be substantially cleared by mid-year, with a focus on residential properties.

The contractor will also be working hand in hand with Public Works Advisory to engage local suppliers and subcontractors, to keep local economies ticking over.

Our emergency services, volunteers and our farmers have been outstanding in emergency situations these past months, and we need to be as vigilant in recovery as they have been in the face of disaster.”

Minister Littleproud said the Commonwealth would continue to step up to do whatever it takes.

"We will continue to respond to changing conditions while these fires affect communities across the country,” Minister Littleproud said.

As the rebuilding begins, the Commonwealth will be there to make sure communities are well-resourced.”

Treasurer Perrottet said he expected all savings insurance companies may accrue as a result of the Government funded clean-up to be passed on to policy holders to help assist them in the rebuilding process.

I know people are anxious to have their properties cleared as soon as possible which is why the NSW Government has hit the ground running with the clean-up effort,” Treasurer Perrottet said.

Impacted owners wanting their property cleared need to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 to register their details and provide consent for access to their land.

We are working with the new National Bushfire Recovery Agency to ensure a coordinated response to make clean-up as easy as possible for property owners.”

The NSW Government will provide regular updates to the Commonwealth on the progress of the clean-up.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Australia's 2019-20 bushfire season expected to increase total global atmospheric greenhouse gases by est. 2 per cent this year


According to NOAA Climate.govThe global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2018 was 407.4 parts per million (ppm for short), with a range of uncertainty of plus or minus 0.1 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

With the ability of Australia's east coast forests to act as carbon sinks severely impacted by bushfires and air pollutants released by these fires to date circumnavigating the earth, it was to be expected that the amount of carbon dioxide parts per million in the atmosphere will rise sharply in 2020.

UK Met Office, media release, 24 January 2020:

A forecast of the atmospheric concentration of carbon-dioxide shows that 2020 will witness one of the largest annual rises in concentration since measurements began at Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, 1958.

During the year the atmospheric concentration of CO₂ is expected to peak above 417 parts per million in May, while the average for the year is forecast to be 414.2 ± 0.6ppm. This annual average represents a 2.74 ± 0.57 ppm rise on the average for 2019. While human-caused emissions cause the CO₂ rise in concentration, impacts of weather patterns on global ecosystems are predicted to increase the rise by 10% this year. Emissions from the recent Australian bushfires contribute up to one-fifth of this increase.

Professor Richard Betts MBE, of the Met Office Hadley Centre and University of Exeter, said: “Although the series of annual levels of CO₂ have always seen a year-on-year increase since 1958, driven by fossil fuel burning and deforestation, the rate of rise isn’t perfectly even because there are fluctuations in the response of ecosystem carbon sinks, especially tropical forests. Overall these are expected to be weaker than normal for a second year running.”

Weather patterns linked to year-by-year swings in Pacific Ocean temperatures are known to affect the uptake of carbon-dioxide by land ecosystems. In years with a warmer tropical Pacific, many regions become warmer and drier, which limits the ability of plants to grow and absorb CO₂ and increases the risk of wildfires which release further emissions. Along with other weather patterns and human-induced climate change, this has contributed to the recent hot, dry weather in Australia, which played a key role in the severity of the bushfires.

Professor Betts added: “The success of our previous forecasts has shown that the year-to-year variability in the rate of rise of CO₂ in the atmosphere is affected more by the strength of ecosystem carbon sinks and sources than year-to-year changes in human-induced emissions. Nevertheless, the anthropogenic emissions are still the overall driver of the long-term rise in concentrations.”

The CO₂ concentrations at Mauna Loa are measured by the Scripps Institution for Oceanography at UC San Diego and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Fire emissions are monitored by the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED).

The 2020 CO₂ forecast is available here.

As far as I can tell, it is likely that before 2020 draws to an end the atmosphere above the Australian land mass and coastal waters will probably contain at least est. 406.138 to 411 parts per million of carbon dioxide.

A carbon dioxide concentration of 400 parts per million is considered unsafe - a danger warning - and Morrison Government denialist-based climate change policy is making sure that we are now well and truly exceeding that figure.

The average surface temperatures over the Australian continent and its surrounding oceans have increased by nearly 1°C since the beginning of the 20th century.

This global rise saw land surface temperature in the NSW Northern rivers region rise by somewhere between 1°C and 1.4°C by 2014, with most of that warming occurring since 1950.

How hot will this region become in 2020?