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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Monday, 16 February 2009
Victorian bushfires: Select redneck media ignore moisture element to protect their logger mates from blame?
Topic: aust govt

Picture: Skinny dry sclerophyll regrowth as pictured here burns intensely. How much of this was once wet old growth and semi rainforest - and therefore fire resistant - until the logging industry started in with intensified mechanisation of chainsaw and bulldozer up to 50 years ago? Less than 10pc of wet forest types remain due to logging policies.

Very revealing to see select big media bigots parade their falsehoods in the wake of an unprecedented bushfire tragedy.

Andrew Bolt has been frothing with this most recent column determined to create a wedge between the G/greens and respected veteran Barry Cassidy of the ABC:

One nasty redneck dissembler is here in the string:

FOEHN replied to strange days indeed
Sun 15 Feb 09 (02:22pm)

Look on the SMH letters page from Friday, 13 February. Some clown from the Friends of the Earth is advocating no burns, no fuel reduction in the forests.

But that letter said the exact opposite as copied and posted here on SAM elsewhere (at the end of the article). That's an evil and cynical attempt at dis-information.

Indeed Bolt's articles have a comment string that read like Young Liberal brown shirts holding a branch meeting and frothing and lacing up steel cap boots. Honest debate is not really the purpose. It's adolescent testosterone filled rambling. Ironic since Bolt once referred to lefties as "kindymedia". Seems he runs a kindy of sorts too. Or is that Lord of the Flies?

What is most galling, and probably evil, is that the advocates and allies of the logging industry, especially from ex forester bushfire experts, is the dishonesty over how we got to this situation: A 50 year systemic process of conversion of wet old growth semi rainforest types into dry sclerophyll eucalypt in the name if not reality of logging for timber, and since the 1970ies especially virtual mining for export woodchips. A situation most likely irreparable by any natural means in terms of wet forest type.

Today we have a landscape wide drying out not in just one or a few areas, but across whole landscapes and regions. This is a bushfire scenario (mechanism via diagrams explaining how here) decades in the making with or without constant fuel reduction via prescribed burning. Indeed in hot dry windy weather this dry sclerophyll bushfire becomes wildfire in the crowns. Now with climate induced rainfall reductions and drought (as per the CSIRO report of July 2008 reference) we are experiencing dry sclerophyll wildfire as megafire.

The reduced rainfall works in two ways. The fuel is not only dry and therefore more flammable, but there is more of it because the forest floor doesn't reduce by natural decay (eg fungi, moss, lichens and native critter foragers). Water limits all processes of life just like a composter at home in the garden.

It would be a whole lot easier to read such as Piers Akerman, Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt who are ideological and bigoted if there was more honesty about their allies in the logging industry region wide determination to liquidate wet old growth and rainforest areas over decades. Particularly since mid 20C mechanisation of chainsaw and D9 bulldozer and high volume export woodchipping (now at 8 million tonnes a year) from native forest.

Akerman in particular today repeats this hoary old chestnut today at page 10 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph (offline):

"Every basic firefighter is taught the "fire triangle" - its three components are fuel, oxygen and heat source. / No-one can do much about the oxygen factor, it's almost everywhere, [sic] fire sources roughly fall into two categories - deliberate or accidental - which leaves fuel. / Demonstrably, it is the only factor over which a level of control can be exercised through controlled reduction."

Trouble is like expert Rob Incoll today in the Sun Herald this is wrong, via the same limited equation. The fourth factor as explained in our headline is moisture, including humidity. We submitted a comment but suspect it won't get in:

"You say as a forester:
"A fire needs fuel, heat and oxygen to burn./ Fuel is the only factor that can be altered. "

No. Fire also needs absence of moisture. And low humidity helps alot too. You left that out, and I suggest it's for this reason. Your industry as with illegal logging [of rainforest] at Dingo Creek, and smashing of semi rainforest at Goolengook, have been transforming the wet old growth forest types to dry sclerophyll [for 50 years]. That's the brutal truth. Time to be honest.

So now how to deal with the spilt milk? Fuel load can be managed in various ways. One I'm interested in is the Walmsley/Earth Sanctuary high concentration of native critters behind feral proof fences. That might be of interest to the inner ring of Kinglake West or similar. My understanding the firestorm came from middle ring farmland, and outer ring State Forest. True?

Now that our forest estate is down to less than 10% of the wet forest type (as per a 1993 scientific paper by then Dr now Prof Tony Norton of ANU Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies) the loggers are responsible for creating a landscape wide problem. The loggers' spilt milk, but now our society's/governments' and G/greens problem. Thanks for nothing, rednecks.

The loggers and their friends do have a point about attention to fuel reduction in buffer zones especially close to homes. Too bad their land use policies in the loggers' own state forests and plantations didn't change the outcome in Victoria. Or on farms with their long grass. At least as we understand it that's the land tenure where these fires got the firestorm run up like a lethal Geof Thompson bouncer.

Even better to not create the problem in the first place. Yet the last wet old growth forest types are still being logged in Australia every day including in East Gippsland Victoria. In preparation for the next megafire. Thanks for nothing rednecks.


Posted by editor at 8:31 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 16 February 2009 10:55 AM EADT

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