Press Release No.10 (10.11.14)

Climate Change and the Bushfire Mitigation Public Meeting in Bairnsdale

Independent Candidate in Gippsland East Peter Gardner said he was disappointed that the issue of climate change was dealt with so fleetingly at the Bushfire Mitigation Public Meeting at Bairnsdale on Wednesday.

Gardner noted that climate change was mentioned only in passing and that science of global warming was treated with a certain disdain. Gardner stated: “My concern above everything else is climate change and this includes the dramatic effect climate change is having on our weather and bushfires.

“The problem of climate change and its effect on bushfires is so immense it is obvious we must work on best science. Everything else is wasted effort and funds.

“Best science indicates that with climate change we will have increasingly longer fire seasons, more severe fire danger days, more heatwaves and more catastrophic bushfires. These are going to happen whatever we do.

“Anecdotal evidence indicates that fuel reduction burns have little effect on catastrophic fires. Large areas burnt in 2003 burnt again in 2006/7. Recent studies of the Black Saturday fires indicate that logging actually increases the severity of these fires.

“We must work to reduce the severity of the problem and adapt to those changes we cannot prevent. We must commence proper controlled studies on the best actions to take. In the meantime we should adopt and act wholeheartedly on current knowledge.

“On the adaption side we must retreat from the forests and work hard on the protection of towns, farms and communications routes. We must greatly expand our fire protection and emergency services in the bush. This includes having permanent CFA officers, each with an apprentice, at each fire station.

“With mitigation we must phase out logging of native forests as these forests are a natural store of carbon (the only form of carbon capture and storage that works) as soon as we can provide full employment in the bush. As well current logging practices appear to exacerbate severe fires. In the shorter term any logging within 10km of settlements should be stopped and strategic regrowth areas should be manually thinned as an added means of protection of communities. Timber should come increasingly from plantations and these should be managed appropriately including fire protection, thinning, pruning and removal of undergrowth.

“The science is in on climate change. It is happening. It is getting worse. It is man made. “Nero fiddled whilst Rome burned” goes the saying. Every delay by our politicians to act on this matter brings us closer to the climate emergency.”