Press Release No 7: 3.9.13

Independent candidate says Heatwaves and Bushfires Immediate Problem

Independent candidate Peter Gardner is campaigning on a Vote Climate Vote Solar ticket and is concerned that the threat of climate change is far worse than either the media or the politicians are telling us. Bushfires have always been a part of the Gippsland landscape but the problem has been made worse by climate change. This is influencing extreme weather events making them both more severe and more common.

“Three fire events in Gippsland in the last decade can be classified as 1 in 100 year events according to their area, ferocity, property damage and casualties. The fire season has become much longer – by as much as two months with the 2006/7 fires extending across the summer from November. In parts of the USA the frequency of bushfires has also increased over the last four decades by as much as 4 times. The combined factors of more hot days, extended periods of drought interspersed with periods of heavy rainfall, increased storm and winds and heatwaves that suck the moisture out of the land are all contributing to this increased fire danger.

“Aside from the threat to property and person bushfires are a continuous threat to the tourist industry. A bushfire almost anywhere in the region often deters people from visiting the district though the fire may be a hundred miles or more from their destination. As a tourist dependent shopkeeper I lost substantial income in both 2003 and in 2006/7 due to the bushfires. With the frequency of fires increasing this loss of income is likely to be felt across the tourist industry.

“Heatwaves in Paris (2003) and Moscow (2010) killed an extra 15,000 and 11,000 people respectively. The Moscow heatwave was called in the press a one in one thousand years event. Often it is the hotter nights where the temperatures fail to drop significantly that are so threatening to life. Cities and towns also act as heat banks making the problem worse. Mortality figures indicate that the heatwave prior to ‘Black Saturday’ caused 374 extra fatalities mostly the elderly.

“Floods and droughts are also on the increase in both frequency and severity. With each degree of increase in average temperature the air can hold a further 7% of moisture. Unfortunately this does not mean it will fall on you although occasionally it will – in excess.  The rainfall that fell on Australia in 2010-11 causing record floods also caused the gradually rising ocean to temporarily retreat by 7mm. Gippsland has also experienced lengthy droughts during this century.

“There is need to prepare for future extreme weather events and related catastrophes like floods and bushfires,” Mr Gardner said. “And there is a need for the major parties to recognise the seriousness of the problem and for responsible action instead of jockeying for political advantage. The approach to climate change should be bipartisan and directed by the best science and not by the lobbyists of the fossil fuel industry. A rapid transfer from fossil based energy to renewable energy is one of the many ways we can attempt to mitigate climate change warming.