AUSTRALIA – The ferocity of bushfires is soon to be so severe in Australia due to climate change that they will be near impossible to extinguish.
In a few short years, Australia will be virtually defenceless against deadly bushfires ignited by pyro-convective storms and multi-directional winds, a former fire chief has warned.
As 50 degree summer days come closer to reality for major Australian cities, firestorms that are impossible to extinguish with existing resources are on the horizon, according to
former NSW fire chief Greg Mullins.
Fire crews, many still recovering mentally from the horror 2019-2020 summer, don’t have anywhere near the capacity to battle blazes expected in the coming years, Mr Mullins told the Australian Aviation Podcast.
“We don’t know how to fight these fires. Our traditional tools – hazard reduction burning, back-burns, attacking fires at night in the worst conditions – none of that works anymore,” Mr Mullins said.
The federal government rejected repeated requests for funding to support aircraft firefighting resources ahead of the deadly summer, arguing the Home Affairs budget was too tight.
By the time prime minister announced an $11 million boost in December 2019, the fire season had well already begun and there were time lags with sourcing air tankers from the northern hemisphere.
This came after a damning report in August from Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre which warned there would be “above normal fire potential”.
The funding submission was deemed to have “merit” however it was ultimately knocked back by Home Affairs because of budgeting issues.
Mr Mullins criticised the “missing in action” federal government, which he argued had fallen short on both climate change action and contributions to physical resources, including vital aircraft.
“As climate change gets worse, we’re going to have to ramp up every facet of bio-mitigation,” he said, highlighting a particularly urgent need for “fast-attack” aircraft weaponry.
Australia’s 25-year drying trend meant there would be more “fuel to burn”, so fires would be more easily ignited and their ferocity far more severe.
“We’re in a climate crisis and one of the symptoms is catastrophic bushfires,” Mr Mullins said.
“The buck stops here. This government has to wake up.”