Friday, October 25, 2013

More Spring bushfire stats help put out ABC's alarmism

ABC continue the mistaken meme that the current Sydney Bushfires are unprecedented (see reply from ABC news to our query below). One reason this might be the case is that official sources of bushfire information provide incorrect data.

For instance if you look up the 1951-2 fire season, one of the worst on record, on the governments's AUSTRALIAN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT KNOWLEDGE HUB it provides the following:


From November 1951 to January 1952, there were 11 reported deaths when approximately 5000 fires burned 4.5 million hectares of western New South Wales. Fires were estimated to have cost £6 million at the time. November saw 371,000 hectares of cypress pine forest and bush burned in the Pilliga area, and 266,000 hectares of grass-land burnt in the Dubbo / Forbes district. In January 1952, 330,000 hectares were burned out at Mangoplah near Wagga Wagga. Two people died and 10,000 hectares were burnt in the Australian Capital Territory with fires bearing down on the urban areas of Canberra.

Note the start date of 1 November.
AEM provide a list of sources for this summary that includes the following article from the Canberra Times: The Canberra Times, 20 May 1952, ‘NSW £ 6 ½ million in six months’. This contains the following information:

"Bushfires caused at least £6,500,000 damage in New South Wales between October, 1951 and March, 1952, the State Bushfire Committee has reported to the State Government"

We have requested AEM correct the error in their dating.

UPDATE: AEM advise the text corrected:
Thanks for your email. We have corrected the copy, which now states that the fires began in October 1951.

A quick response, something ABC could learn from.

Also of note is this entry for 1968:


During the period 15 October until 3 December, a bushfire damaged the Blue Mountain region. Winds recorded up to 100 km per hour, intensified the fire front. Due to an unusually dry spring, conditions allowed the fire to burn for approximately four weeks. Widespread damage was caused to infrastructure, houses and buildings. A total of 1,500,000 ha were burnt and 14 people died.
Other areas affected included; Valley Heights, Warrimoo, Blaxland and Emu Plains. The damage bill was estimated at approximately £1,500,000.
It is quite clear that the recent fires are not "unprecedented". It is embarrassing that a News organisation the size of the ABC is unable to undertake its own research on this.

Reply from ABC re Lateline misinformation received 24/10/2013:

Thank you for your recent email and research. Emma Alberici's question was based on comments in the Australian newspaper and elsewhere attributed to Mr Phil Koperberg. The Lateline program has not been able to find any record of the comments being disputed by Mr Koperberg.

Here are his comments from that newspaper, dated October 19, 2013:

The unusually early fires that swept through NSW over the past two days would have proved too fast for any warning system, according to former Rural Fire Services commissioner Phil Koperberg.
The former NSW environment minister and current chairman of the State Emergency Management Committee was yesterday appointed Blue Mountains Emergency Recovery Co-ordinator.

He said there had been worse bushfire disasters in the Blue Mountains - in 1952, 1957 and 1968 - but what was unprecedented was it happening in October.

"It's not the worst, but it is the earliest. We have never had this in October," Mr Koperberg said. "This is a feature of slowly evolving climate. We have always had fires, but not of this nature, and not at this time of year, and not accompanied by the record-breaking heat we've had."

Here is Emma Alberici's question on Lateline:  "Now, the former Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg says the fire in the Blue Mountains isn't the worst we've seen, but it's certainly the first time bushfires of this magnitude have happened in October. Why has the season started so early this year?"

The ABC believes Ms Alberici's question was an accurate reflection of the former Commissioner's comments.

While the material you have provided in your complaint points to a number of serious past fires, it does not seem to clearly establish that this latest one was not the worst, taking into account the factors Koperberg listed.

Again, thank you for your feedback.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Doyle
ABC News

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fact check Lateline: Bushfires in October

7:30 report Lateline last night....

EMMA ALBERICI: Now, the former Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg says the fire in the Blue Mountains isn't the worst we've seen, but it's certainly the first time bushfires of this magnitude have happened in October. Why has the season started so early this year?

The fires below appear to refute this statement. Had they occurred with the same spread of development and population as we currently have who knows what the damage would have been. One supposes similar to the disaster in progress.

October fires around Sydney and New South Wales, some examples:
From Sydney Morning Herald 24 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
FIRES BLAZE IN BIG AREA Buildings Lost On N. Coast
Firefighters battled yesterday with more than 100 bushfires near Sydney and in the country. Some fires were still burning fiercely last night.
STATE FORESTS Fires were burning in nine State forests yesterday.

Scores of firemen and civilians fought three bushfires in southern suburbs of Sydney nearly all day yesterday and prevented serious damage to many homes that were menaced. Firemen said last night the fires, fanned by a strong, gusty wind, were the worst since last summer. Some firemen col-lapsed from the effects of heat and smoke.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
State Bushfires Checked: Huge N.T. Blaze
Most of the bushfires in New South Wales were brought under control yesterday, but the Minister for Conservation, Mr.G. Weir, stressed that extreme. danger remained. TERRITORY Biggest Fire Ever.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
Bushfires Devastate 64 State Forests
Sixty-four State forests on the North Coast were devastated yesterday by bushfires which firefighters described as"the worst in history." Thousands of acres of grassland in the north-east corner of the State was also burned out.

From Sydney Morning Herald 25 October 1951, Page 1 headlines:
Big Timber Loss In Northern Fires
Forestry officials say that bushfire in N.S.W. in the last 10 days have destroyed at least 250 million super feet of timber- enough to have built 40,000 three bedroom houses.
The Forestry Com-missioner, Mr. L. S.Hudson, said when he returned to Sydney last night after touring North Coast fire areas that it was "quite impossible" to estimate the damage. "But at least 50,000 acres of forest land have been burnt," he said."Probably more than this has been burnt, but we cannot give a definite figure until mopping:up operations have been finished.

From Sydney Morning Herald 12 October 1948 Page 1
Gales and the greatest dust storms in many years swept across the eastern half of the continent yesterday and last night, and blew thousands of tons of inland soil toward New Zealand and New Guinea.
Queensland's Director of Meteorological Services, Mr. A. S. Richards, last night described the dust storm  as one of the worst in the State's history.

From Sydney Morning Herald 13 October 1948 Page 1
FIGHT FOR HOMES Bushfires At Mt Colah.
More than 40 homes were threatened by bushfires in the Mt. Colah district yesterday. The outbreak started at Roff's Park on Monday after-noon. Firemen and police had con-fined it to a rocky gully by dawn yesterday, but during the afternoon the wind freshened and fanned the blaze towards homes along Pacific Highway and Galston Gorge.

From Sydney Morning Herald 22 October 1948 Page 1
Bush Fire Threatens Farms Near Mona Vale
Thirty firemen, police, and civilians fought throughout last night and early this morn-ing to prevent bushfires en-gulfing two Mona Vale farm properties.

From Sydney Morning Herald 28 October 1948, Page 1 headlines:
Many Bushfires as Heat Sets Four-year Record 
Fierce bush and grass fires swept many parts of the State yesterday as the temperature again soared over 90 degrees to set a four-year record. Temperatures in Sydney early this morning fell suddenly after a south-westerly change. Most serious outbreak was on the South Coast, where the village of Termeil, 12 miles from Ulladulla, was practically destroyed.

From Sydney Morning Herald 8 October 1928, Page 11 headlines:
Fires and Storm
The city was encircled by bushfires, and many buildings were Unroofed.

Damage estimated at £20,000 was caused bya bush fire which swept through the bush country surrounding Ocean Beach, Ettalong, and Booker Bay to-day. Forty-five week-end cottages were completely destroyed. The flames were Irresistible, and in the terrible heat many of the fire-fighters dropped exhausted.

Bush fires have bean raging all day along the coast from the Hawkesbury River to Newcastle. Several houses along the shores of Lake Macquarie have been burnt down, and many more are in danger.

FIRES ON MOUNTAINS. Motorists' Exciting Time.
Bush fires broke out at various points on'the Blue Mountains yesterday, and residents experienced many anxious moments.

In common with the greater part of New South Wales and the whole of the southern States, the city experienced an exceptional wind storm and excessive heat, which created a maximum of discomfort. In the early after-noon. Great volumes of dust from Inland districts and smoke from extensive bush fires produced a thick yellow haze In the city, making visibility poor, and adding to the general discomfort.

See other reports of the above:

Gale and fire, red steer loose

Also September fires....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gale and fire, red steer loose

A few news items from past times to mull over...

Gale and Fire Nepean Times 13 October 1928 
"Last Sunday was a Black Sunday on the Mountains and in the Nepean district. A fierce gale made havoc with property, and on the Mountains the flames destroyed much property. The whole countryside, from Warrimoo to Lawson, was alight."

Gale and Fire The Queenslander 11 October 1928
"A SCORCHING westerly gale which swept from the inland districts to the coast to-day wrought havoc in many areas. Many houses were unroofed in the suburbs. There were numerous bushfires, one having disastrous consequences. Many reports are to hand of minor damage by the wind. A message from Woy Woy, the popular watering place north of Sydney, states that a fire broke out early in the day enveloped 30 week-end cottages, all of which were destroyed. The damage is estimated at £20,000."

"Red Steer" Loose As Heat Wave Flames The Land 29 October 1948
"THE RED STEER," old bushland name for a bushfire, was loosein the eastern districts of New South Wales in the early part of this week,set free by the hottest October weather in recent years and fanned on its way by scorching westerlies."

Many Bushfires as Heat Sets Four-year Record SMH 28 October 1948
"Most serious outbreak was on the South Coast, where the village of Termeil, 12 miles from Ulladulla, was practically destroyed."

N.S.W. Under Smoke Pall Townsville Daily Bulletin 24 October 1951
"SYDNEY, October 23.— Bushfires are burning in nine State forests in New South Wales.Over 100 separate bushfires were reported during the dayand night.Veteran fire fighters said it was one of the worst days for bushfires in the State's history.The fires extended along the coast from the Shoalhaven and the Tallaganda Shires in the south to the Queensland border. They also raged in the north-west of the State."

Sydney, Wed.: Bushfires ravaging the northern NSW coast have caused more than £1 million worth of damage. Yesterday fire destroyed, several houses, a sawmill, a banana plantation, a bridge and threatened scores of other dwellings and. several small townships. Police on the north coast said only, a drop in the wind. had averted a "holocaust" today."

"Boisterous gales swept New South Wales to-day, blinding dust storms raged in the inland districts,high seas lashed the coast, and driving rain fell in parts of the southern areas. Gales -are raging over the Tasman Sea, and air services were partially disorganised. The city was encircled by bushfires, outbreaks occurring in practically every suburb. Fences were torn down, trees uprooted, and small buildings unroofed."

Friday, October 11, 2013

More heatwaves to come

ABC state the obvious, yes there will indeed be more heat waves to come. Odd that the study mentioned starts in the 1950s, and does not extend back to the 1930s and 1890s despite good quality meteorological records being available. One supposes ABC based their story on yesterdays high temps. They really need to check the definition of a heat wave before getting carried away. It generally lasts more than 12 hours.

This TEDX presentation by Ivo Vegtar should be required viewing for ABC's alarmist reporters.
Scary bananas: How environmental exaggeration harms emerging economies.

Missing News: explaining the pause

ABC Science recently published a piece by its highly paid in house expert Dr Karl, titled "No Warming in 16 years". Dr Karl essentially denies the evidence for the hiatus in global temps. In contrast a recent peer reviewed paper in the journal Climate Dynamics provides an explanation for the pause. The paper is co-authored by one of ABC's missing voices Dr Judy Curry.
No surprise that ABC have not reported on the paper.

From the Press release:

A new paper published in a recent online edition of the journal Climate Dynamics suggests that this ‘unpredictable climate variability’ behaves in a more predictable way than previously assumed. The paper’s authors, Marcia Wyatt and Judith Curry, point to the so-called ‘stadium-wave’ signal that propagates like the cheer at sporting events whereby sections of sports fans seated in a stadium stand and sit as a ‘wave’ propagates through the audience.  In like manner, the ‘stadium wave’ climate signal propagates across the Northern Hemisphere through a network of ocean, ice, and atmospheric circulation regimes that self-organize into a collective tempo.
The stadium wave hypothesis provides a plausible explanation for the hiatus in warming and helps explain why climate models did not predict this hiatus. Further, the new hypothesis suggests how long the hiatus might last.   

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Climate spin at The Con

ABC's academic arm The Con. have an article by Communications and Media Studies lecturer David Holmes titled: Climate change and the politics of consensus. The article is accompanied by a picture showing what appears to be a group scientists in white coats (see below). Now who could argue with that authority?

A close look at the photo shows the banner was provided by AVAAZ an online activist group. A quick web search reveals a Yahoo news story where we find the "scientists" are actually AVAAZ protesters!
The caption reads: Members of the non-governmental organisation AVAAZ take part in a protest on the side of a giant 12m seesaw, outside the conference centre Munchen brewhouse where the U.N. IPCC climate report was presented. 
Use of activist propaganda imagery by a tax payer funded site does little for the credibility of The Con, or the author. We made a note and asked some difficult questions. The image preserved at Webcite.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lightning strikes

ABC's environment site are always quick to highlight extreme weather events and disasters but always seem to fail in putting events into their historical perspective. Sadly this week saw at least 32 people killed in India from lightning strikes. This was in at least two separate strikes.

In 1915 lightning killed at least 34 people in one strike.

More historical tragedies can be found by searching TROVE.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Climate Council's first donation?

Some conflicting reports about where the new Climate Council's first donation came form...

According to the ABC, contenders are as follows....

James in Perth?
'We had our first donation in last night from James in Perth - $15,' Dr Flannery told Breakfast this morning.

or James in New South Wales?
"We had our first donation from James in New South Wales for $15 at midnight," he said at the time.