The pitch black hue of Green ideology is revealed to us in the spreading stain of false event attribution which is oozing its way across social media and the alarmist main stream media right now. It is the absurd, irrational, insane, driven, hysterical, urgent, fanatical, obsessive need to attribute the near apocalyptic human and environmental tragedy of the Australian bushfires to man-made climate change. The need to absorb it into their narrative, to bathe in its burnt, blackened, bloodied wastes, to inhale its sweet perfume of despair so they can spit it right back into the faces of all the doubters who dared to question the validity of the Holy Settled Science.
A moral and intellectual black hole has opened up which the Greens apparently are diving deep down into with frenzied abandon, unparalleled, unbridled joy even, sputtering madness, mayhem and rancid illogicality on their inexorable way to its fearful Event Horizon. We can but hope that beyond that point of no return lies their utter oblivion but right now they are many and they form a high-pitched, howling, screaming, white hot accretion disk of malcontents in orbit around their own moral abyss, determined to do harm even as they accuse others of doing so.
‘Empirical evidence please,’ you politely, naively request as they enthusiastically and brainlessly point the finger of blame firmly at the climate crisis:
‘What?’, they reply, ‘It’s bleedin’ obvious innit. Hotter temperatures means drier fuel means terrible fires. And clymit models. And peer reviewed studies wot say fire conditions are getting worse and will get worse in future. And all the world’s major academies – and stuff.’
‘Er no, that’s not actually empirical, scientific evidence and it’s really not that conclusive’.
‘F*** off you climate change denialist; stop shilling for the fossil fuel companies and stop spreading denier conspiracy theories’.
Those people are never going to be convinced by any rational argument based on science and evidence. They’re just going to keep believing that ‘scientists know best’ and that the world is burning up because of CO2 and that deniers should be thrown in jail for crimes against humanity and the planet. So why bother at all really? I often wonder. The answer must be that science, evidence, facts and reason must take precedence over uninformed hysteria, even if eventually they do not prevail and uninformed hysteria wins the day.
Increase in Fire Weather – Actual and Projected
That’s a fairly unequivocal statement from a senior Met Office scientist, an expert in climate change impacts. Strip out all the hyperbole and the political posturing from the Manns, the Marvels and the Hayhoes and this is the basic message coming from the climate science community. High fire risk weather is increasing in Australia because of climate change – ergo the current extreme fire risk weather and resulting catastrophic fires are a manifestation of the ‘climate crisis’. So let’s take a look at the BOM study which Betts refers to in order to justify that message. Firstly, it’s based on an analysis of observations only from 1950-2016. So it does not include the exceptional drought conditions and heatwaves recently experienced in Oz, nor does it include any observations of extreme fire weather prior to 1950.
Long-term changes in fire weather conditions are apparent in many regions. In particular, there is a clear trend toward more dangerous conditions during spring and summer in southern Australia, including increased frequency and magnitude of extremes, as well as indicating an earlier start to the fire season. Changes in fire weather conditions are attributable at least in part to anthropogenic climate change, including in relation to increasing temperatures.
Hmm, ‘at least in part attributable to climate change’ doesn’t quite sit with Richard’s publicly stated claim that “high fire-risk weather is increasing in Australia due to climate change”. But never mind, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now and read on. The authors identify El Nino as having an important influence on fire weather conditions:
El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) can have a significant influence on fire weather conditions in Australia (Williams and Karoly 1999; Williams et al. 2001; Long 2006; Nicholls and Lucas 2007; Dowdy et al. 2016). Building on previous studies such as these, the influence of ENSO is examined here for individual seasons of the year based on a long time period of gridded FFDI data so as to examine both the seasonal and spatial characteristics of ENSO–fire weather relationships throughout Australia.
Then they explain how important it is to understand the influence of natural and anthropogenic influences upon fire weather in Oz.
There is a growing need to better understand climatological variations in extreme weather conditions, such as those leading to extreme fire danger and wildfires, particularly given the scientific consensus that global warming is unequivocally occurring because of anthropogenic influences and has enhanced fire danger in parts of the world (Seneviratne et al. 2012; IPCC 2013; Whetton et al. 2015; Abatzoglou and Williams 2016). Improved climatological knowledge of fire weather conditions in Australia, including the factors that influence its variability (e.g., large-scale natural modes of variability and the influence of anthropogenic climate change), is therefore an important research priority that could have benefits for a range of fields such as emergency management, planning, insurance, health, agriculture, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction.
OK, yes, right, so hopefully this study will provide that better understanding, an understanding communicated to the public by Richard Betts himself, being in turn widely representative of the views of the scientific community, as further amplified by Greens and activists to the excusion of all other ‘right wing conspiratorial beliefs’ re. what is contributing to the severity and frequency of bushfires.
So, here, the data, based on gridded observations of FDDI:
So what seems fairly obvious is that there has been a significant long term increase in dangerous fire weather conditions in austral winter (Jun/Jul/Aug) and particularly spring (Sep/Oct/Nov) since 1950 in SE Australia, SW and parts of Northern Australia. Much of this increase has happened during 2000-2016. Also notable is that there has been a sharp decrease in fire weather over central northern Australia and north west Australia during summer (Dec/Jan/Feb). Overall, there has not been a marked increase in FDDI (Forest Fire Danger Index) over the entire Australian continent during summer, except in southern Australia. In fact, in central northern and north western Australia, the risk of fire weather has decreased significantly during the summer season.
Here now is the correlation of FDDI with seasonal Nino 3.4 values for each of the four seasons over the period 1950-2016:
This second map demonstrates:
- A high correlation between ENSO and mean and extreme FDDI in summer over east and west Australia and northern regions. This is to be expected as Pacific Nino conditions generally peak in December.
- Virtually no correlation between ENSO and extreme FDDI during winter, reasonable correlation with mean FDDI during that season, but only in eastern Australia.
- High correlation of ENSO with mean and extreme FDDI over most of Australia, excluding western regions, during the spring.
Does one need to point out that the current extreme FDDI conditions and wildfires have developed over the austral spring (Sep/Oct/Nov) and carried through into early summer due to an intense heatwave with daytime maximum temperatures exacerbated by an extreme lack of moisture in the soil? Does one need to point out that the 2019 winter and spring drought in Oz is the expected result of a record positive Indian Ocean Dipole? Does one need need to point out that Nino3.4 has been largely positive since July 2018, often exceeding the 0.5C El Nino threshold? Indeed, that El Nino has remained largely positive since the monster El Nino of 2015/16? Does one need to point out that most of the worst fires have occurred in south eastern Australia, in the spring and early summer, where correlation of extreme FDDI with ENSO is high? Yes, apparently one does need to point these things out.
Here is what the authors of Richard’s paper say about the correlation of El Nino with high fire index values:
Large regions where significant relationships occur between Niño-3.4 and seasonal mean FFDI values are apparent, with almost all locations having a significant correlation for at least one season. These correlations are positive in sign, indicating that higher FFDI values are generally associated with El Niño conditions (characterized by high values of Niño-3.4) and lower FFDI values with La Niña conditions (characterized by low values of Niño-3.4).
Here is what they say about the long term changes in FDDI since 1950 and in particular the dramatic changes since 2000:
Long-term changes in FFDI values are apparent, with substantial increases in recent years in the frequency of dangerous fire weather conditions particularly during spring and summer in southern Australia. It was found that these increases in southern Australia are predominantly due to an increased frequency of occurrence of the higher FFDI values in recent decades, including numerous examples since the year 2000 that are higher than anything recorded previously (Figs. 5a–d) together with increased variability (i.e., standard deviation) of fire weather conditions from one year to the next, noting that knowledge of changes such as these is important for fire management authorities to consider in relation to preparedness for risks associated with extreme fire events.
This is what the authors have to say about the influence of the long term temperature trend and the influence of greenhouse gases:
The long-term changes in fire weather conditions (Figs. 3 and 4) are broadly consistent with observed long-term trends in temperature throughout Australia as well as in rainfall in some cases. For example, the climatology of a wide range of meteorological features was recently examined throughout Australia based on a synthesis of various different observations and analyses (including based on the AWAP dataset as used here) as well as climate modeling from global and regional downscaling models (Whetton et al. 2015), showing significant anthropogenic climatological changes have occurred in Australia in line with expectations based on increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (IPCC 2013). The observed daily maximum temperature for Australia has increased by about 1.0°C since the year 1910, noting that a large amount of this increase occurred during the second half of the twentieth century (Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO 2016), with models also indicating with very high confidence a continued long-term increase throughout this century in daily maximum temperature for all regions of Australia and for all seasons of the year (Whetton et al. 2015).
The long period of available data (spanning more than six decades) allows climatological analysis with minimal influence from natural variability (e.g., internal climate fluctuations associated with ENSO and other sources of interannual- to decadal-scale variability), with the long-term climate change signal for Australian fire weather conditions being clearly apparent based on the results presented here (e.g., from Figs. 3 and 4). For the example shown in Fig. 5, on the recent FFDI increases in southern Australia during spring, all input variables for the FFDI were found to have changes in sign consistent with increasing FFDI, including increasing temperatures for which anthropogenic climate change influences are well established (IPCC 2013; Whetton et al. 2015; Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO 2016).
The second paragraph is interesting. Firstly, 1950-2016 is not that long a period that it can eliminate multi-decadal scale variability. Secondly, their own maps show that ENSO is significantly correlated with the observed changes in FDDI over the entire period. It’s almost as if this finding is uncomfortable for them, therefore the emphasis on the ‘long term trend’ when speaking about the influence of anthropogenic climate change. But really, the above two paragraphs are the only evidence presented in that paper for linking climate change to FDDI. In actual fact, there is absolutely no new research presented in this paper which demonstrates a more positive and definite connection of FDDI trends over Australia to climate change. On the contrary, the paper quantifies regional variability in FDDI over 1950-2016, and establishes that it is positively correlated to ENSO activity according to season; further, that much of the increase in extreme FDDI has occurred in the space of just 16 years (now 20) from 2000, therefore the trend in FDDI has not been linear or gradual, unlike the underlying long term trend in global mean surface temperature. Maybe this is why the UNFCC were only yesterday at pains to stress that global warming is now no longer the long term trend, using Ed “Stripes” Hawkins’ ridiculous graphic as an example – it’s the very short term trend in mean temperature in Australia, in December!
Richard’s paper concludes by restating the link between fire weather and ENSO:
The influence of ENSO on fire weather conditions has been examined in numerous studies, including for various individual regions of Australia . . . . .
a previous study (Harris et al. 2008) found significant relationships between ENSO and fire activity in southeast Australia, while noting this was considering fire occurrence data rather than fire weather indices such as the FFDI. Complementary to previous studies, the results presented here highlight a number of variations in the influence of ENSO on fire weather conditions, including between different seasons and regions . . . . .
the correlations are predominantly positive in sign between the Niño-3.4 and the FFDI measures examined here. This corresponds to more severe fire weather conditions generally occurring for El Niño than La Niña conditions for each of the four seasons. examined here.
It’s bad enough that Richard Betts, a senior Met Office scientist and the more sane, reasonable and approachable representative of the climate science community, takes to social media to declare that fire weather has increased in Australia due to climate change, linking to a study which really doesn’t demonstrate that – but it gets worse. Other studies conclude that the anthropogenic influence upon an essential ingredient of extreme fire weather, drought, is minimal, and that natural variability has played the greater part.
In 2013, a study was published which looked into the possible natural and human causes of the Millennium Drought (2001-2009) in South East Australia. Again, let us remind ourselves that this is the region where the 2019 bushfires have been most widespread and intense (i.e. New South Wales and Victoria) and was the same region (Victoria) where the devastating Black Saturday fires of 2009 killed 173 people. The authors set themselves the task of actually quantifying the contributions from the various natural and human influences upon the drought, which they defined as follows:
The “Millennium Drought” (2001–2009) can be described as the worst drought on record for southeast Australia. Adaptation to future severe droughts requires insight into the drivers of the drought and its impacts. These were analyzed using climate, water, economic, and remote sensing data combined with biophysical modeling.
Here, we define the Millennium Drought as the period 2001–2009: the longest uninterrupted series of years with below median rainfall in southeast Australia since at least 1900.
Say the authors:
Droughts and their impacts can be categorized as meteorological, hydrological, agricultural, and socioeconomic [Mishra and Singh, 2010; Thomas, 1965]. The contributions of climate change, water management, and other natural or human factors to these impacts need to be understood to guide our expectations about, and response to, future droughts. For example, if some part of drought impacts can be attributed to global warming, more frequent and more severe events may be expected in future [Milly et al., 2008].
Unambiguous isolation of the factors contributing to drought and its impacts is difficult.
Our main objective was to isolate and quantify anthropogenic and natural contributions to the Millennium Drought and its impacts.
The authors identify one of those impacts, unsurprisingly, as serious wildfires in 2003 and 2009. In order to try to identify the main factors which affected the meteorological drought, the authors examined time series of the following six atmospheric/oceanic phenomena:
ENSO (Nino3.4 [Kaplan et al., 1998] and Southern Oscillation Index (SOI)); IOD mode index and the classification of Ummenhofer et al. ; Pacific decadal Oscillation (PDO) [Zhang et al., 1997]; SAM [Marshall, 2003; Visbeck, 2009]; global mean temperature (GMT); Hansen index); and the intensity and location of the Southern Hemisphere Subtropical Ridge (STRI and STRL) [Drosdowsky, 2005].
This is what they found:
Statistically significant (P < 0.1) drying trends (1950–2009) in annual rainfall were found for east (−0.36% per year) and south Australia (−0.26% per year).
In east Australia, drying appeared due to trends in ENSO, STR [Subtropical ridge], and PDO in approximately similar parts. In south Australia, PDO appeared to explain a large part of the observed rainfall decline, with smaller contributions from ENSO and IOD.
Here’s the table which details the exact contributions in each region.
Only in the southwest did global mean temperature contribute to the long term drying trend from 1950-2009. In all other regions, it had no measurable effect. Given that drought index is a major and essential component of calculating the FDDI, given also that maximum daytime temperatures are proportional to the dryness of the soil and hence the drought index, it does not take a massive leap of the imagination to conclude that global mean temperature (climate change) has had little effect upon the trend in dangerous fire weather observed in south and east Australia and that natural variability (ENSO in particular) has been the dominant influence.
The results from this study suggest that by far the most important predictors of precipitation in most regions of Australia are ENSO, the southern hemisphere sub tropical ridge, PDO, Indian Ocean Dipole and the southern annular mode. On the Millennium Drought in particular, ENSO seems to have been the major influence:
Overall, our results confirm that that ENSO was the most important driver of the Millennium Drought in east Australia and explained a small part of the rainfall deficit in south Australia. Our data analysis proved inconclusive with regard to the main causes of the drought in south Australia.
It was ENSO which ended the Millennium Drought:
The end of the drought is less ambiguous: a strong La Niña event in early 2010 brought very high precipitation and large‐scale flooding to many parts of southeast and east Australia.
Is there any hope for global warming amongst all this natural variability in the Australian climate? Just small crumbs I’m afraid:
Different phenomena are anticipated to be affected by global climate change to different degrees. For example, STR shows a long‐term trend consistent with changes in the Hadley circulation expected from global warming [Hu et al., 2011, and references therein; Kent et al., 2011; Nicholls, 2006]. On that basis, global warming has been hypothesized as a factor contributing to the drought. The sensitivity of other drivers to global warming is much more tenuous. There appears little agreement among global climate models about the influence of global warming on ENSO [Van Oldenborgh et al., 2005], even though Power and Smith  noted that many existing ENSO indices attained unprecedented values during the period 1977–2006. Similarly, a mechanism by which global climate change influences PDO has so far not been established. Regardless, the apparent importance of PDO as a low‐frequency driver of decadal precipitation trends suggests a potential source for climate nonstationarity that warrants further research in its own right.
After the Millennium Drought and the subsequent La Nina of 2010, the massive El Nino of 2015/16 occurred of course and it seems almost inconceivable that this huge event did not further influence drought conditions in Australia, particularly in the east.
From the point of view of real world data, facts, figures and actual scientific research, it seems fairly obvious that attributing the current human-ignited devastating wildfires to ‘climate change’ is idiotic at best, politically motivated lies at worst. At best, the long term global warming trend may have played some part which is difficult to quantify. At worst it played little or no part. This won’t stop idiot greens and climate activists from continuing to blame climate change and hence King Coal in Australia for that continent’s current woes. I fear it will not even stop activist scientists from boldly declaring that 8000 dead koalas is evidence that the ‘climate crisis is here’. Shame on them.