Bushfires and climate change

134042-1.jpgIn Victoria, the frequency of large fires (greater than 100,000 hectares) has grown significantly over the past century.

  • 19th century – 2 mega fires
  • first half of 20th Century – 4 mega fires
  • 2nd half of 20th century – 7 mega fires
  • In the first 19 years of the 21st century – at least 7 mega fires

This is in spite of the huge advances we have made in fire fighting technology over the past 50 years.

You 'do the math'. Is there a link between climate change and fire frequency and intensity?

Science clearly says it is. (Check these stories for some examples: Global perspective in The Conversation, a senior United Nations climate change official says there is ''absolutely'' a link between climate change and bushfires, report from The Climate Council, etc).

Unless the world takes immediate action to radically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, bushfires will become an ever greater threat to life and landscape in Victoria.

We can't solve the problem of climate change on our own, but Victoria must play it's part. In 2019 this means:

  • ensuring there is a funded plan for a rapid transition away from coal and our current reliance on oil and gas, and to 100% renewables, based on a diversification of the Latrobe Valley economy

  • banning all new fossil fuel projects in the state – coal, oil and gas - including offshore gas

  • re-designing our cities to be climate friendly, and ready for the impacts of climate change

  • investing in public transport, and shifting the balance away from roads

  • developing an energy efficiency program for all existing houses and buildings

 

 TAKE ACTION

Support our campaign for meaningful energy and climate policy through signing this petition.

Support our call for native forests to be protected through the creation of the Emerald Link reserve in East Gippsland and the Great Forest National Park here.

Let's build transport infrastructure that's fit for purpose in the 21st century - like the Melbourne Metro 2 project. Support the vision here.

For more on the link between fire and climate please check the Climate Council website.

 

THE FIRES

1851 - 6 February "Black Thursday" (5 million hectares)

1898 - 1 February "Red Tuesday" (260,000 hectares)

1914 (>100,000 hectares )

1932 (206, 000 hectares)

1938-39 - December - January "Black Friday" (2 million hectares)

1944 - January - February (1 million hectares)

1952 – Benalla fire (100,000 hectares)

1965 - Gippsland (300,000 hectares)

1969 – state-wide (250,000 hectares)

1977 – Western District (103,000 hectares)

1980 - Sunset Country and the Big Desert (119,000 hectares)

1983 - 16 February "Ash Wednesday" (510,000 hectares)

1985 – Central VIC and Alps (>102,000 hectares)

2002 - December, Big Desert Fire (181,000 hectares)

2003 - January - March "2003 Eastern Victorian alpine bushfires" (1.3 million hectares)

2005–2006 – Western and Central VIC (160,000 hectares)

2006-07 - 1 December - 6 February "Eastern Victoria Great Divide bushfires" (1.2 -1.3 million hectares)

2009 - 7 February "Black Saturday" (450,000 hectares)

2012/13 Aberfeldy-Donnellys Creek, Harrietville, Chepstowe, and Grampians fires. (>190,000 hectares)

[I don't have definitive figures for fires from 2013/14 - 2017/18 - so the figure of 7 mega fires is a conservative number]

2019 - major fires in Bunyip state forest and VIC Alps (at least 100, 000 ha)

 

SOURCES:

http://www.ayton.id.au/gary/History/H_Aust_bushfires.htm

http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/fire-and-emergencies/managing-risk-and-learning-about-managing-fire/bushfire-history