Australia not ready for bushfires of the future

The Sir Ivan fire created its own thunderstorm, which was about 7 kilometres high.

Australia not ready for bushfires of the future

Australia is not prepared to fight the bushfires of the future, experts warn

Posted on 04.10.2019

The bushfires of the future are already here. They burn earlier in the season, and more ferociously, and can interact with extreme weather events to create fires we don’t know how to fight.

This year, the bushfire season began with the worst September in recorded history, with 55 homes destroyed.

The Australian winter was only just in the rear-view mirror when 130 bushfires ripped through southern Queensland and northern NSW in one day.

Australia’s former chief scientist, Ian Chubb, said it was clear the climate was changing.

“It’s not just some passing phase that it didn’t rain this decade,” he said. “The implications of that for fire are pretty obvious.”

Former New South Wales fire and rescue commissioner and Climate Council member Greg Mullins said unprecedented conditions could give rise to so-called Black Swan fire events.

“We’re going to have fires that I can’t comprehend, and I’ve been in the game for nearly half a century,” he said.

A Black Swan is something without precedent and thought to be impossible, until it happens.

When it comes to bushfires, these Black Swans happen as our environment changes, creating conditions firefighters have never seen before.

Emergency experts and senior scientists have told a joint ABC investigation that a comprehensive national plan is needed to tackle the fires of the future, and they are concerned about the lack of financial commitment from the Federal Government for resources and research.

“This is a national issue that all people in Australia, regardless of whether they are left or right, have a right to expect that we will face up to challenges that are ahead,” Professor Chubb said.

Key points

  • The national aerial firefighting centre, which two years ago flagged the need for an $11m funding boost, still has not received a decision from the Federal Government
  • The Government has not guaranteed funding for the only national body researching the future of bushfires0
  • Twenty-three emergency services experts calling on the Government to consider the threat of climate change in fire planning have not received a response

ABC News





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