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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/10/2009

Australians Link Climate Change and Deadly Fires

By Andrew Freedman

* Very Warm for Next Two Days: Full Forecast *

The deadliest bushfires in Australian history continue to rage out of control, having already claimed at least 181 lives, according to the BBC. As the country takes stock of the staggering losses incurred over the weekend, some policymakers, scientists, and journalists are already laying part of the blame on global climate change.

Many factors conspired to make these fires especially fierce and deadly, including human settlement near wildfire-prone regions, but scientific studies have identified the likelihood of increasingly severe droughts, heat waves and wildfire seasons in both North America and Australia. According to the studies, drier conditions in large portions of Australia is an especially robust result of many computer model simulations of the future climate.

Keep reading for more on the Australian fires and the possible role of climate change...

According to press accounts from Australia, the fires have been so swift and severe that they have snuffed several towns out of existence entirely, with bodies found in cars and on roadways as people tried in vain to flee the fast-advancing flames. There will be governmental reviews into all aspects of the fire disaster, including the "stand and defend or flee early" guidelines for residents of Victoria facing bushfires, which are a relatively common occurrence in Australia's dry climate.

Victorian Premier John Brumby was quoted by the BBC as saying: "We have had whole communities just completely wiped out, completely obliterated, by what people would describe as literally a fireball that just came over the hills and devoured everything before them."

Brumby also told the Australian Broadcasting Company that global climate change contributed to the conditions in which the fires took place, saying: "There's clear evidence now that the climate is becoming more extreme."

This summer has been severe for many parts of Australia, with major flooding in the northeastern state of Queensland and withering heat, dry weather and now the fires in the south. The heat wave that helped touch off the wildfires in Victoria and two other states was not your typical Aussie summertime scorcher. This heat wave, which came in two acute periods in late January and last week, featured numerous all-time high temperature records, including a sizzling 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Melbourne on February 8, the same day most of the fire-related deaths occurred nearby.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, three of Melbourne's top five all-time hottest days have occurred this summer. The city's weather records extend back 154 years.

"We've known it was coming," one Australian Bureau of Meteorology forecaster told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We've had repeated, highly unusual heatwave activity in Australia in the last 10 years."

Such unusual heat contributes to very high fire risk, which has been increasing in frequency, according to Kevin Hennessey, a scientist with the Australian research agency CSIRO. "We observed a large increase in fire-weather risk from about the year 2000. So part of this increase in risk has begun and has been observed," Hennessey told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The extreme dryness over the last 12 years may be due to natural variability but it may also be partly due to an increase in greenhouse gases; it's too early to tell."

Perry Wiles, senior climatologist with the NSW office of the Bureau of Meteorology added, "Climate change is not only increasing average temperatures, but also the frequency and severity of extreme temperature events. While any one event cannot be attributed to climate change, this heat wave is certainly consistent with that expectation. In a warming world we can expect similar extreme events more often."

australia-fire.jpg
Satellite image showing smoke over sections of southeast Australia. Taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite. Places where the sensor detected active fire are outlined in red. Courtesy NASA.

Despite the uncertainties involved in attributing climate impacts, Australians have a recent history of translating concern about climate change impacts into political action. In 2007, in the wake of the epic drought known as "The Big Dry", Australians tossed out incumbent Prime Minister John Howard in favor of Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labor Party, in part because Rudd promised ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction policies. Australia under Howard had been the only major industrialized country other than the United States not to ratify Kyoto.

Whether or not the deadly bushfires have been caused in part because of global climate change, it's likely that there will be more political heat on climate change.

By Andrew Freedman  | February 10, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, International Weather  
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Comments

Andrew,

Your title seems misleading. From your article, Kevin Hennessey of CSIRO says "The extreme dryness over the last 12 years may be due to natural variability but it may also be partly due to an increase in greenhouse gases; it's too early to tell."

Further, Perry Wiles of the NSW office of the Bureau of Meteorology said "one event cannot be attributed to climate change" and then goes on to make broad generalizations.

This does not sound like they are blaming climate change, at least not yet.

Posted by: RMVA | February 10, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Wow. You don't stop do you? Do you have no shame at all? Is there any natural disaster that you won't try to blame on global warming? Any? Any at all?

You know Mr. Freedman - given that you steadfastly refuse to advocate any policies that will limit our CO2 output, and you attempt to link every single disaster or hypothetical situation (monster snakes will eat you all!) to man made global warming, some of your readers may get confused. Some of your readers may get the impression that your sole intention is to scare people. I suppose if you scare people bad enough, they might be willing to go along with anything.

For those of you who may not be very familiar with Australia, a large portion of it is desert. Approximately 40% of Australia is covered with sand dunes. And no, that is nothing new. That is what they call the "Outback". The areas that are experiencing the fires have ALWAYS been very dry during their summer. This is nothing new.

What Mr. Freedman forgot to mention is that Australian police have confirmed that arson is to blame for at least some of the wildfires.

Let's recap - a dry, desert climate plus an arsonist.

According to Mr. Freedman, that is probably somehow linked to global warming.

Maybe they can charge the arsonist with "climate change" if the catch him/her.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 10, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I would have LOVED if Andrew was alive during the Dustbowl, talk about fodder for an argument where you grab at any natural disaster and use it towards your argument. Australia is much like the US, it has very dry areas that don't typically get a lot of rain for periods of time. To use only an excerpt of a quote, and not share both sides of the story is the biased journalism I expect to see from the WP. It's summer over there, record highs DO happen believe it or not. If there is a case for GW, perhaps it would directly have to do with all of the factories in India and China who emit tons of pollutants into the air and don't have to see one repercussion from it! Nothing will change in those countries, I promise you that. I however will have to start paying more for "eco-friendly" items/cars/methods when the majority of America doesn't have two pennies to rub together all for a fad.

Over 180 people have died thanks to eco-terrorists, I think the REAL story is what kind of sick person does that and to best dissimilate information on how to find them. Writing about GW is just a lame attempt at using the destruction and deaths of so many for your own goal.

Posted by: TheMot | February 10, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

@RMVA

You're right. The original headline was too strong. We've amended it to change the word "blame" to "link"...

@Mot and Q

All Andrew has done is describe what SCIENTISTS IN AUSTRALIA are saying about the possible links. The statements are those scientists'...not Andrew's!!!

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

CapitalWeatherGang wrote, "All Andrew has done is describe what SCIENTISTS IN AUSTRALIA are saying about the possible links. The statements are those scientists'...not Andrew's!!!"

Right...

Nothing to see here. No agenda here. Nothing to see. Move along. Nothing but the utmost in responsible journalism.

agenda driven science + agenda driven journalism = catastrophic man made global warming

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 10, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Mr. Freedman should have mentioned that Australian police have confirmed arson while reporting what some fringe Australian scientists say. Some people might consider that relevant. Call me kooky!

Some people may wonder why such an important detail was left out. I'm sure it was accidental. ;)

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 10, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, don't be bullied. Just because someone's full of bluster and picking at details doesn't mean they actually have a valid point.

Posted by: gilmoredaniel | February 10, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

@Gilmoredaniel

"picking at details doesn't mean they actually have a valid point..." Hmmm, interesting! Seems like the perfect way to sum up the arguement of somebody who supports global warming. Grab a stat here, a outlandish statement there, and add a dash of fear mongering consiquences; sounds like the perfect recipe for GW! All of it can actually be debunked when you get down to brass tacks, but they sure want to "bully" us with their Hollywood agenda.

Posted by: TheMot | February 10, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I almost can't stand to reach the end of your articles because I have to suffer through the comments section.

Mr Q - kooky is the least of what I would call you.

I am Australian and only some of the fires are thought to be the result of arson. In Australia, AFTER a natural outbreak of fires it is often the case that some murderous person lights another one to get to watch it being fought.

Additionally, I am offended by Mr.Q referring to the leading Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization - (CSIRO) as comprising fringe scientists. These men and women are some of the leaders in their fields. Just because someone disagrees with your point of view does not in any way diminish their credibility or the value of their findings.

And if we're going to be nitpicking at things in Mr. Freedman's articles, (which seems to be what you live your life to do), let's be straight on some of the facts.

The police suspect arson for some of the fires - there are still 23 major fires burning. While there is talk of arson in the Gippsland area, this hardly covers the multitude of fires burning throughout the state.

Ridiculous temperatures and record droughts are a time bomb in Australia for bush fires and if you peruse Australian media, politicians, journalists, scientists and scientific organizations are saying simply that climate change is likely to result in similar extreme events.

P.S. - I thought the snake story was hilarious. Am so shocked that Mr. Q couldn't find the funny!!

Posted by: AD12 | February 10, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Nooooo! The last comment section of the WaPo to be lunacy free has fallen! The screamers have finally come. Intelligent discussion is now impossible. Go away angry nuts, go back to the politics page and leave us alone.

And, Ahem... Climate change could explain the intensity of the fire and it's terrible speed. So a fire bug 20 years ago would not have been able to cause so much damage.

Posted by: eor11 | February 10, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Why not just go ahead and attribute every single natural (and unnatural) disaster that occurs henceforth to global warming. It's handy and requires absolutely no thought (or proof).

Posted by: shoveit | February 10, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

This is more liberal b.s. What a big change since this site moved in with the Post.

Posted by: MKadyman | February 10, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

What requires no thought is dismissing outright even the remotest possibility that global warming MIGHT be playing a role.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The possibility that arson was to blame for some of the fires fails to negate the impact of climate change-related trends which may have contributed to the deadly event. The dryness and extreme heat made it possible for an unknown number of people to allegedly light some of the blazes that went on to kill nearly 200 people. The arson wouldn't have been so deadly had conditions not been so hot and dry.

In other words, the weather/climate conditions were a prerequisite for the fires (many of which are thought to have been caused by lightning, not from human intervention), and for that reason the arson suspicions were not included in the article. What some see as bias was intended to avoid giving the impression that arson was the dominant factor in the fires, when there is no evidence of that at all, and in fact all reports indicate the extreme heat and dryness was the primary factor that led to the fires. If further investigation finds evidence to the contrary, we will report that.

Are there uncertainties regarding links between the recent heat, dryness, and wildfires in southern Australia, and global climate change? Of course there are, and that was stated in the article as it has been stated in virtually every other story we have run on climate change and extreme events. The intention is not to scare people, but rather to inform them about the ways in which climate change may affect their world.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Steve, your point is valid, but I would point out to you that fires do not start themselves. Hot or not.

Posted by: RMVA | February 10, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

MKadyman: The charge of "liberal b.s." should be directed at the Australians who made the statements quoted in the story, not at CWG. Furthermore, the science of climate change is nonpartisan. The question of what to do about the problem of climate change is.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to comment on the actual nature of the article here, because I really don't have enough knowledge of the incident and all the climatic data behind it to make any sort of argument, which is something that I think a lot of people on this board should think about before commenting. With that said, for Capital Weather to make this comment "All Andrew has done is describe what SCIENTISTS IN AUSTRALIA are saying about the possible links. The statements are those scientists'...not Andrew's!!!" is somewhat outrageous. Andrew's blogs are almost always related to climatic change, and one could easily make the assumption that he supports the theory that man is causing this change. To try and make the point that by posting and commenting on this article he is in no way saying he agrees with it is a fairly ridiculous statement to make. I think some responsibility should be taken for posting this blog.

Posted by: arnoldkh | February 10, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

RMVA: It is correct that, last time I checked, fires do not start themselves. However, why are you assuming that arsonists caused most of the fires, and resulted in most of the deaths? The Australian government authorities have not stated that. Instead, it appears that arson may have played a role in some of the fires, while natural causes such as lightning strikes triggered others.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

@MKadyman

Andrew wrote about climate change pretty much weekly (on Sundays) for almost two years before the move to the Post. The amount of climate change coverage has not changed. If anything, we've broadened our mix of content since the move by adding more writers and doing more posts on a whole range of topics (other than climate change).

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

AD12 wrote "I almost can't stand to reach the end of your articles because I have to suffer through the comments section."

I am right there with you AD12.

Posted by: John-Burke | February 10, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

This is not the first unusually dry summer in Australia, only the most intense. I remember a drought accompanied by fires only a few years ago during an Australian summer.

Nor is the situation confined to Australia alone. It happens every fire season in California. Historically, we Wisconsinites remember the Great Peshtigo Fire [during the same exceptionally dry autumn as the Chicago Fire] back in the 19th century, I believe the year was 1871. More recently, in the early 1900's there was a similarly devastating fire in Hinckley, Minn. In each case a hot dry "blowtorch" weather spell set the stage along with tinder-dry debris from clear-cut and other extensive logging. In the case of the Chicago Fire, the exceptionally warm dry autumn weather was probably more to blame than the apocryphal story about Mrs. O'Leary's cow, the lantern and the dry straw.

There's an interesting factor involved in the Australian situation. Many of the fires were doubtlessly kindled by lightning, rather than the oft-mentioned arson. Australia is frequented by thunderstorms during the summer, and is probably the continent second-most frequently [after North America, with the Indian subcontinent coming in a close third] visited by severe convective weather. The indigenous forest [primarily Eucalyptus] is rich in trees bearing flammable essential oils, and during a dry summer a single flash of lightning, abandoned campfire or discarded cigarette can spark a conflagration.

It's undoubtedly true that some of the fires were man-made, whether intentional or otherwise. Whether most of the fires were due to arson is rather debatable. If Australia is experiencing warmer, drier summers in recent years, climatic change is a factor.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 10, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, why are you putting words in my mouth?

I never said anything along the lines of what you attributed to me in your last post. I simply pointed out a fact that fires do not start themselves, not who (or what) started them. Please revise your comments.

Posted by: RMVA | February 10, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

@arnoldkh

Andrew reports about climate change and writes commentaries using as his basis the scientific findings of the U.S. government Climate Change Science Program, the major U.S. scientific organizations (AMS, AGU, and AAAS), the National Academy of Sciences, and the IPCC. These organizations and institutions set the standard for credible and legitimate climate change science. Yes, there are critics...just as there are critics for institutions assessing every imaginable scientific problem for which there is inherent uncertainty. But as a responsible journalist, Andrew is relying on what the most authoritative scientific organizations report. Sorry you have a problem with that.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Wow. How about we all settle down a little? For those of you who are getting a bit "heated" in your postings against Andrew's article, I must say that your arguments are valid, but your methods could use a little help. Being nasty in your arguments actually goes further in negating them than in proving them. Many of us are long-time fans of Capital Weather, and perhaps those of you who just chime in for the climate change portion could take a lesson in diplomacy from the rest of us.

As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on permanent, man-made climate change, and most likely always will be since geological eras (and the weather patterns that accompany them) are quite a bit longer than the average human lifespan. I tend to believe that humans have an effect on their climate, and so man-made warming cannot be ruled out, but neither can anything else.

Having said that, I enjoy reading all of the opinions that come down the pike, but the negative tones of some of the postings are quite unnecessary and most likely counter-productive.

Posted by: chrissie413 | February 10, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Mr Q arson is nothing new here in Australia.

What is new is the longest drought in our history, as well as record breaking heatwaves for he second year in a row.

This year was Melbourne's turn, producing three of it's hottest ever days in one summer.

Last year, in Adelaide, we had a 15 day heatwave, a once in 3000 year event according to the scientists.

http://news.theage.com.au/national/adelaide-heatwave-one-in-3000-years-20080318-2034.html

These extreme climate events are piling on top of each other. And if pointing that out offends you, for some bizarre reason, so be it.

Posted by: defamedprawn | February 10, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to echo "chrissie413's" points. Considering the scope of the tragedy in Australia (we're talking about one of the deadliest if not the deadliest natural disaster in that country's history), people have been rather nasty today. The article did not express a personal opinion of mine that climate change caused the wildfires. Rather, it cited sources in the Australian media and scientific journals that discussed a possible link between climate trends and the fires.

And to RMVA: I apologize if I put words in your mouth, but I am still unsure of what you were implying with your comment. I assumed you were implying that arsonists were primarily responsible, but that may have been incorrect.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks chrissie413 -- Unfortunately, some people use the anonymity of the Internet as an excuse to be rude and impolite, when in fact serious debates could just as easily be carried on with civility and a tone of mutual respect. Fortunately, those commenters that do go the route of nastiness make up only a tiny fraction of our overall audience.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

really, there's very little doubt that a massive infusion (from 270 ppm in the 1800s to whatever it is now) of co2 into the atmosphere should cause warming. that part's basic stuff. i suppose we could argue about whether that "extra" co2 is entirely "anthropomorphic" or not...i mean i suppose it's possible that besides our burning fossil fuels there's an ocean vent or something pumping it out too...i mean...it's possible, theoretically. the real uncertainty now is now about HOW MUCH warming we'll have, what the specific effects will be, and getting a handle on any positive or negative feedback loops.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 10, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

skeptics sometimes point out that we are misreading the historical climate record when we say high co2 causes high temps - they'll point out that in the past rising temperatures have PRECEDED the co2 spikes. it indicates that in the past temperatures have gone up due to some other variable (milankovic cycles, probably), then the co2 rose. this should only make things worse for us. by my understanding we're not "due" for a milankovic-induced change for a while. in our case, the co2 boost came first, which has caused temps to rise which will cause co2 to rise which will cause temps to rise and so on.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 10, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Andrew,

Just remember that if enough people are yelling at you, you must be doing something worthwhile.

There isn't much question that global warming is real. Arguing about whether it directly affected these fires is like arguing over how the deck chairs should be lined up on the titanic.

Posted by: ThinkGreen | February 10, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

chrissie413,


Nice post. The voice of reasoning is always welcome.
~ subdued but wholehearted applause ~

Posted by: pjdunn1 | February 10, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if my comment was taken the wrong way and seemed harsh, all I was saying is that it seemed as though you were downplaying this article because of perhaps an unfavorable response from your readers, if this is not the case than I am sorry for the misunderstanding. I think that his reporting and all the reporting on this site is responsible and inline with mainstream science and I enjoy reading it.

Posted by: arnoldkh | February 10, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

@arnoldkh

Thanks for clarifying and for the nice comment...

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

John Brumby, the Premier of Victoria, is desperate to divert the blame for the recent catastrophic fires away from his government. He highlights global warming and arson but avoids the real reason, inadequate preventative burns on public land. Fuel reduction has been identified by experts as the most effective way of controlling wildfire intensity in Australia for more than 70 years. The measure has been recommended by enquiries into major fires since the 1930s. The State government greatly reduced preventative burns in exchange for green preferences prior to recent elections. See here: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5456&page=0

The government order to keep people from accessing their properties and the bodies of their loved ones by declaring the area a crime scene seems unnecessarily harsh. The move has every chance of backfiring as the government must surely be the prime suspect.

The disaster occurred during extreme weather on Saturday 7-2-09 when temperatures soared above 45 degrees C and the maximum anomaly for the area was 12 degrees C higher than the average. A rugged up John Brumby blamed global warming for the fires on Tuesday 10-2-09 when temperatures bottomed out at 6.6 degrees C and the maximum anomaly ranged between 6-12 degrees C below average. Incidentally the continent as a whole was cooler than average when viewed over the two days. Isn’t it amazing how cherry picking tends to stains one’s hands! Check out the data here:
http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/silo/temp_maps.cgi?variable=maxanom&area=nat&period=daily&time=latest

Posted by: bayrunner | February 10, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

By the way, claims about the continuing widespread drought are also grossly exagerated. Weather Bureau drought records do not show severe rainfall deficiencies over large areas during any of the most recent last 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 or 24 month periods.
See here: http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/silo/rain_maps.cgi?map=contours&variable=drought&area=aus&period=3month®ion=aus&time=latest

Posted by: bayrunner | February 10, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Bayrunner: Whether Australia as a whole was cooler than normal during the extraordinary heat wave in the south is not particularly relevant, because it was the local conditions in the fire areas that contributed to the fires, and the regional heat wave is what scientists are relating to climate change. That the heat wave was regional is not surprising, and the article did not state otherwise. In addition, I doubt the national average temperature would be of much comfort to those who have lost loved ones or property in the fires.

Also, weren't the cold anomalies in the state of Queensland related to the ongoing flooding there, which is itself an extreme event?

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 10, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

However, had Australia been warmer then normal on said dates, the GW Bandwagon would have certainly used that stat in the argument for the fires. As per the norm, a seasonal draught combined with the right circumstance errrrrr fire = catastrophe. Cool temps, frigid temps, hot as Hades temps, it doesn't matter, the factor is dry brush/vegetation/etc combined with a strong wind and you will have a raging forest fire. Any firefighter will tell you the right ingredients are air and fuel. Do you honestly think that 5 alarm fires are caused by the temperature inside a structure? If I set my AC to a lower temperature do you really think that will slow down the fire in my neighbors house from engulfing mine? Or for that matter if my heat is set on high? Then why would the same be true outdoors? Regardless of the temperature, it's the air inside that is the accelerant for the fire.

Posted by: TheMot | February 11, 2009 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Andrew, I agree that local conditions are important to fires. I've been through them often enough. While some Australian scientists relate the heatwave to climate change, many do not. The former believe an increase in extreme events is consistent with global warming. However these predictions are based on scratchy computer models that produce hypotheses, not evidence.

Relying on extreme events to convince the Australian public of global warming is futile in a country where extreme events are the norm. Using the same approach I could easily argue global warming started in the fires of the 1930s or even the 1850s but this wouldn't correlate with CO2 concentrations, would it?

In a recent poll our national broadcaster asked listeners whether they thought the current heatwave was a) related to climate change; b) not related to climate change; or c) whether climate change is a myth. Last I looked, 95% described climate change as a myth with only 2.5 % believing there was a connection. Premier Brumby may have altered these numbers by a point or two with his assertions after the fire, but no more. That’s not only bad science, it’s bad politics.

The Queensland floods were serious though typical of those experienced in northern Australia from time to time. It’s an odds-on bet a flood will break a record at some time in the future and I expect politicians will jump on the extreme events band wagon yet again.

Posted by: bayrunner | February 11, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the post, Andrew, and don't let the climate change denialists get you down - those of us in the reality-based community really appreciate the information and the links.

Posted by: EFroh | February 11, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

via The Age -

Angry survivors blame council 'green' policy.

ANGRY residents last night accused local authorities of contributing to the bushfire toll by failing to let residents chop down trees and clear up bushland that posed a fire risk.


That's weird. The people directly effected by the fire aren't blaming global warming. They are blaming local "green" policies.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 11, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

bayrunner you appear to be leaving out the odd fact here and there.

The drought is NOT over in South Eastern Australia, which is where the fires occurred. That is from the very source you yourself cited.

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/drought.shtml

As to the poll by the national broadcaster that you referred to, you forgot to mention that it was just a web poll (and one that accepts multiple votes from the same IP at that).

Why not cite the most recent proper survey on the issue instead? Of course, it shows that about 86% of Australians believe global warming is real.

http://www.newspoll.com.au/image_uploads/0708%20Climate%20Change%2029-07-08.pdf


Posted by: defamedprawn | February 11, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr_Q, we hear the same story every time there's a bushfire. You get people who build their houses on the edge of a protected area, and then scream blue murder because they're not allowed to cut down all the trees there.

Posted by: defamedprawn | February 11, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I was going to add the same link Mr Q did, but he beat me to it! Found it interesting to say the least.

@defamedprawn - As the bible says "Foolish is the man who builds his house on sand," however, when you're not allowed to clear out brush for green policies, there is a difference then living in an area like described. When those people were living in those areas already, clearing shrub and cutting down dead trees, THEN are told they can't for green policies I'd be pissed to.

EFroh - Sorry to bother you with another idea from a non reality based world. God forbid some of us don't believe everything pop culture throws at us these days and there be another side to the arguement.

Posted by: TheMot | February 11, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

defamedprawn wrote, "You get people who build their houses on the edge of a protected area, and then scream blue murder because they're not allowed to cut down all the trees there."

Really. Is that really what happened? Are you saying that with full knowledge of ordinances that would surely mean death or loss of home for the homeowners, those people built their homes there?

Or, did the local governments enact said ordinances AFTER (in most cases, LONG AFTER) the people had built their homes?

How would you like it if after the fact, the government enacts laws that endanger both your home and your life? Would you be cool with that? What if you had a family? What if you had small children? And the government came along and said, "we think that dead underbrush is more important than the safety of your family - you can't remove it, no matter how much of a fire hazard it is".

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 11, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Mr_Q maybe in some cases that's true. But that's down top the policies of certain politicians, and conservationists. It's got nothing to do with global warming has it?

Posted by: defamedprawn | February 11, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

defamedprawn wrote, "It's got nothing to do with global warming has it?"

Perhaps I should have more clearly pointed out the link. Allow me.

The title of Andrew Freedman's column is, "Australians Link Climate Change and Deadly Fires".

But the people who live there, the people know what is going on, the people who lost their homes, the people who lost family members (you know, the ones you accused of screaming blue murder - because their family members are dead), THEY don't blame global warming. They blame local ordinances.

So I propose that a better, more accurate column would be something like, "Australians Link Local Ordinances, Arson, and Deadly Fires".

See the link now?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 11, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Mr_Q no argument that arson (if it occurred) played a part. No doubt that politicians making silly mistakes may have played a part.

But are you completely dismissing the record-breaking hot, dry weather as being a factor in the cause of the bushfires? If so, why?

Posted by: defamedprawn | February 11, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"EFroh - Sorry to bother you with another idea from a non reality based world. God forbid some of us don't believe everything pop culture throws at us these days and there be another side to the arguement."

I love how you equate science with pop culture - how revealing. Keep up with the denial though - you guys are very amusing. Meanwhile the rest of us will get on with the business of trying to ameliorate this mess.

Posted by: EFroh | February 11, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Bayrunner: The scientific method works by making hypotheses and testing them via experiments. Since there is no other Earth to use for testing purposes, some climate researchers use computer models to simulate the past, present and future climate in order to determine what is most likely to happen under different scenarios of human development. Are these models imperfect? Of course they are, but they also provide very useful information about the climate system. Assailing them as "scratchy" and lacking in evidence is misleading.

The one article from The Age newspaper, about an individual who lashed out at a town meeting of a fire-stricken Australian community, does nothing to suggest that there wasn't a climate change role in the fires. It does nothing to suggest there was, either, but rather speaks to the many other factors that likely contributed to the deadly event. This was noted in my article.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 11, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman wrote, "The one article from The Age newspaper, about an individual who lashed out at a town meeting of a fire-stricken Australian community, does nothing to suggest that there wasn't a climate change role in the fires. It does nothing to suggest there was, either, but rather speaks to ..."

You can't be possibly be serious. Try reading those two sentences out loud.

@defamedprawn
It is undeniable that arson played a part. The authorities are convinced and have stated so.
It is undeniable that local ordinances played a part.
But rather than write about those two things, which are completely undeniable, Mr. Freedman, and apparently you, would rather focus on what may or may not even exist! Even the scientists quoted in the article state that "climate change" may or may not have played a role.

So my question to you, just one of many that you haven't answered, is why do you want to ignore the undeniable factors and focus on something that might not even have played a part? I don't get that. It just doesn't make any sense at all to me.

@Mr. Freedman and Dr. Tracton
How are you guys coming with that list of scientists who have gone on record stating categorically that they believe in the current theory (as espoused by the media and Dr. Hansen, Dr. Mann, etc...) of catastrophic man made global warming????? Senator Inhofe has over 700 names on his list now.

@Mr. Freedman
Why won't you advocate any policies that will reduce our CO2 output?

I don't even agree in the theory of catastrophic man made global warming, and even I am willing to go along with Dr. Hansen's suggestion of nuclear power. Just as a precaution! Just because I don't believe in the theory doesn't mean I am unreasonable or irrational.

But you never advocate any policies. Why is that?

If you don't want nuclear power, how do you propose to reduce CO2 output? Do you propose to modify human diet and human behavior?

If you really want to be helpful, shouldn't you occasionally put forward a suggestion, rather than constantly trying to link every natural disaster to global warming?

Just a thought.

Mr. Q.

PS. There is
no catastrophic
man made
global warming.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 11, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman, in my last post where I wrote, "You can't be possibly be serious. Try reading those two sentences out loud." please kindly disregard that. The error was mine. I misread your sentences. My apologies.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 11, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I highly recommend scrolling up and reading chrissie413 post from a couple of days ago.

Posted by: John-Burke | February 11, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

EFroh - I love how you take pop culture/circumstance/and just over 100 years of ACCURATE weather observation and turn that into science. Enjoy your mess, I'll be here toasting to Acid Rain, Whales, Tibet and whatever else you can fit on a bumber sticker. I mean, just thinking of all the time you've wasted responding to my post, not to mention the energy consumed, I just can't bear it.

Posted by: TheMot | February 11, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

When signing in to this site to post a comment, there is a warning that "comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed".

So please tell me, why is Mr Q still allowed to post comments on this site? And why does someone who is so totally opposed to the mere possibility that human activity might be having an impact on climate, bother to read and respond to the Weather Gang?

I am affronted by his, and others, personal attacks on your journalists, especially Andrew who Mr Q seems to have singled out. It detracts from the very robust and healthy debate and discussion posted on this site.

Regarding the issue of fires (and floods) presently having such a diabolical effect on the lives of many Australians, many comments have gone right away from the topic.

Andrew is quoting highly regarded scientists here in Australia who have made comments regarding the impact of climate change on the present situation. They are not his comments.

I have watched the extremes of climate in Australia for a lifetime. Never in my quite significant lifetime have we experienced such extremes in temperature, such long droughts, such heavy flooding as well as unseasonal cold snaps.

Parts of Victoria experiencing these fires have been in drought for more than ten years now. The extreme heat at the weekend when the fires were at their worst, together with 100 kilometer per hour winds, plus the fact that eucalyptus trees emit gas into the environment that self-ignites when temperatures are this high, all contributed to the spread and the speed of the fire storms.

Add to that a couple of deranged arsonists capitalising on fires already raging, hundreds of reported lightning strikes on Saturday evening, and policies regarding bush maintenance. who some say are not responsible fire management, and you have the potential for disaster.

That is, a range of activities created this holocaust, including, most Australians would agree, a climate that is being effected by human intervention, that is "climate change".

Keep up the good work Andrew and all at the Weather Gang. Some of your readers really appreciate your attempts to educate us all.

Posted by: wiseowl30 | February 12, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

wiseowl30 wrote, "When signing in to this site to post a comment, there is a warning that "comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed".

So please tell me, why is Mr Q still allowed to post comments on this site?"

Care to guess how many times I, and those of us who don't buy into the hypothesis of catastrophic man made global warming, have been accused of cherry picking?

And here you are, completely ignoring the first part of the disclaimer/message,
"We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features."

In your world, does challenging the hypothesis equate to automatic suppression of free speech? If not, would you please to point to the specific comment that I made that would warrant my suppression of free speech?

Many thanks.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 2:19 AM | Report abuse

John-Burke wrote, "I highly recommend scrolling up and reading chrissie413 post from a couple of days ago."

Really? Why? And why do you assume that I haven't already read it?

I am perfectly capable of putting myself in the other man's shoes. Sometimes, I lament just how capable I am of that. It can be a burden. So, I am perfectly capable of reading your comment and viewing from what I imagine to be your perspective. And from what I imagine to be your perspective my comment could potentially come across as "mean" or whatever.

But have you ever taken a moment to look at this from my perspective? I bet you haven't. I say that because if you had, you would not make the comment that you did.

Allow me to present my perspective for you.

I don't believe in the current catastrophic man made global warming theory. I am perfectly willing to accept that CO2 may play a role, but I believe the current theory is WAY overblown. And I mean WAY OVERBLOWN. And I have stated all of this is previous posts if you care to do the research.

However, being a person of sound mind and body, I am willing to concede that perhaps we should err on the side of caution. Just in case. Seems like a reasonable position to me. However, I am only willing to sacrifice so many liberties on the side of caution! And to be perfectly honest, other than agreeing to nuclear power, I am not willing to make any other concessions. I do NOT approve of the government coming into my home for whatever lame CO2 excuse they deem necessary. Count me out. I do NOT approve of the government dictating my diet, as the IPCC has recommended. Nein danke.

And, here is the real kicker, I do not approve of trying to utilize what was a truly horrific natural disaster as a means of advancing your agenda. I can not possibly overstate how much I disapprove of that. I find it to be the lowest possible form of human behavior. Someone is attempting to make political hay off of the pain and suffering of those who lost family members. How can I possibly approve of that?

To be perfectly honest, it makes me very mad. I find it disturbing to say the least. I find it very, very, very unseemly. And I use the word unseemly as the mildest possible form of my disagreement.

So, when you look at this from my perspective, I think you will agree that my comments have been downright nice.

There are so many other words I would prefer to use. None of them nice.

Do you approve of capitalizing on the pain of suffering of those who have lost family members to promote your personal agenda?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Place your wagers on how quickly this post will be run off of the front page.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 2:50 AM | Report abuse

wiseowl30: Thanks for providing your Australian perspective on the recent extreme events there. That perspective has largely been missing in this comments section, which is unfortunate considering the subject of the article in question.

Articles that explore whether a particular extreme event or trend in extreme events, including wildfires that scientists say are caused in part by heat waves and droughts that may be linked to climate change, are not aimed at advancing a political agenda, as one commenter accuses. There is no evidence for this from this article or any other such article on this web site. Rather, there is ample evidence that those who perceive that there is a political agenda behind these stories are themselves the ones with the political axe to grind. For example, I note the reference to the extreme examples of a government coming into your home and dictating eating habits.

This story was aimed at informing the readership that some climate scientists are concerned that increasingly extreme weather and climate events, including the Australian wildfires, may be related to man made climate change.

Trends in extreme events have been well documented in several major scientific studies, including a recent report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

I will defend the right to free speech to the greatest extent, and I fully support someone's right to comment on this site provided they do not violate the clearly delineated guidelines. Where violations occur, posts are deleted or prevented from publication.

What is worrisome, and is not addressed by the guidelines, is the ability of one user to lash out at other commenters and dominate the discussion, thereby stifling the range and quality of the debate and veering discussions off topic. I don't know how to address this within the site's guidelines and the protection of free speech, other than to ignore such comments as much as possible.

I am curious to know what others think on this subject.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 12, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I am equally as curious at how other people are allowed to post whatever they like about said poster's ideas/commentary and that falling into the realm of acceptable.

Personally, I think this has been a terrific discussion and honestly a lot of data has been brought forth from both sides. Like ThinkGreen stated above; "Just remember that if enough people are yelling at you, you must be doing something worthwhile." You have 58 posts on just one article, that's a lot of exposure to one topic. I seriously don't know what all the crying is about on here, I mean compared to the majority of comment sections I read which are inundated with venom, CWG is always respectful and educating. When you're a journalist however, you're going to have critics and people aren't always going to believe your convictions. However, what I am reading by these past few posts is that since some people don't believe in what the majority here do, they should be excluded for voicing their opinions. I have read every single post here and can honestly say I don't find one thing wrong with what's been said. If somebody makes a statement or proposes an idea another person has every right to defend or challenge that.

What is scary, is when the few who do challenge something which hey let's be honest, is not set in stone here (Global Warming) and there are lots of areas that still need to be studied, you get the sense that some people would like to show up with pitch forks and firey torches to your front step for thinking the way you do. Science is science because it's always changing and being challenged. I mean come on, everyday a scientist somewhere is trying to reinvent the wheel, or taking the norm and challenging that. It's what makes it what it is, but to challenge GW these days is almost on the same level of being a Holocaust deniar.

I have no problem with what any journalist writes as long as it's fair, well researched, and convey's every ounce of writer's passion. That being said, I would really love to see Andrew write an article showing how GW is not occuring, or how it's been used to scare people, intimidate them and even raise their taxes (cough stimulus package add-ons). It would be fun to see and I certainly would applaud him for playing devils advocate on a matter he has put so much time and effort into.

Posted by: TheMot | February 12, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I can tell you what the scientists at the U.K. MET think. They want scientists and journalists to stop the 'Apocalyptic climate predictions'.

---begin quote---

'Apocalyptic climate predictions' mislead the public, say experts

Met Office scientists fear distorted climate change claims could undermine efforts to tackle carbon emissions

Experts at Britain's top climate research centre have launched a blistering attack on scientific colleagues and journalists who exaggerate the effects of global warming.

The Met Office Hadley Centre, one of the most prestigious research facilities in the world, says recent "apocalyptic predictions" about Arctic ice melt and soaring temperatures are as bad as claims that global warming does not exist. Such statements, however well-intentioned, distort the science and could undermine efforts to tackle carbon emissions, it says.

In an article published on the Guardian website, Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, calls on scientists and journalists to stop misleading the public with "claim and counter-claim".

She writes: "Having to rein in extraordinary claims that the latest extreme [event] is all due to climate change is at best hugely frustrating and at worse enormously distracting. Overplaying natural variations in the weather as climate change is just as much a distortion of science as underplaying them to claim that climate change has stopped or is not happening."

---end quote---

source of the quote is here.

My personal opinion can not be wholly expressed in a family friendly way. Suffice to say that I think you should be ashamed of yourself for using the death and tragedy of the poor families as a tool to advance your agenda. I realize that you probably don't see it that way, but that is the way that I see it. It is despicable.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

TheMot: Thanks for the thoughtful comment in favor of free speech and noting the nature of science to be always questioning and seeking greater knowledge. Just to clarify, I wasn't proposing excluding people who disagree with a post or a comment, and I don't think wiseowl30 was either, but rather I was stating a concern that frequently what happens here is that one commenter tends to try to dominate the discussion by opposing everything that everyone else writes, and it ends up stifling constructive engagement. I'm not sure how to combat that, or even if it should be addressed.

To another commenter: The views expressed in the Guardian story by the MetOffice scientist have been discussed on this web site before, when I and other writers for CWG have criticized efforts by some activists to tie any odd weather event to climate change. The problem with the wildfires, and to a large extent the Arctic sea ice melt that the MetOffice scientist refers to, is that these are both trends that climate scientists say are becoming increasingly likely as time goes on. Climate change is stacking the deck in favor of larger wildfires and more frequent fires, and in favor of conditions that would lead to reductions in summer sea ice in the Arctic.

That is different than saying that one particular fire was caused by climate change. But note that that was not what was written in my article.

Exploiting the tragedy for a political agenda is far different from writing that scientists and officials in Australia are linking this event to climate change. For example, the activities of some environmental groups to use the deadly 2004 hurricane season to campaign against George W. Bush involved taking weather events and using them to push a political agenda. You won't find a political agenda at CWG, but you might if you looked in the mirror.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 12, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman wrote, "You won't find a political agenda at CWG, but you might if you looked in the mirror."

Are you trying to say that man made global warming is not a political issue? Are you denying that the issue is actively discussed by the body politic? Are you saying that politicians will not create laws (the very definition of when something is political) to address CO2 output?

Or I are you trying to say that you aren't actively trying to convince your readers that man made global warming is real and represents a serious, catastrophic threat?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Do you want your readers to believe that even though your are "attending the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University as part of a dual master's degree program in climate change policy with Columbia University", your columns are politics free?

You are going to a "Law and Diplomacy" school. You are pursuing a master's degree in "climate change POLICY". Your columns are about a political issue. But all of that is irrelvant? Because you don't bring any of that with you when you write columns. Is that what you want your readers to believe?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't usually respond to your rants and taunts, Mr. Q., but I think it would be beneficial for the broader readership if I were to address your questions here.

Is global warming a political issue? You betcha. Is it also a scientific issue, yes, it is that too. Many would argue it is also a religious and a moral issue. This site covers the science, not the ins and outs of potential greenhouse gas reduction legislation that may or may not be enacted. Climate science is highly relevant to the ongoing political process, but we leave the second part to the politicians and the myriad media outlets that cover politics.

And no, I am not trying to convince readers of anything. As a journalist I report information and let people make up their minds however they wish.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 12, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Andrew Freedman wrote, "And no, I am not trying to convince readers of anything. As a journalist I report information and let people make up their minds however they wish."

So you have never argued the pro side of the man made global warming debate? Never. ;)

Or are you saying that when you were arguing in favor of the catastrophic man made global warming theory, you weren't really "trying to convince readers of anything"?

When you compliment and say thank you to readers who agree with you, you aren't really "trying to convince readers of anything"?

When you ignore the questions (or as you like to call them, "rants and taunts") of people who disagree with you, you aren't really "trying to convince readers of anything"?

Good one Mr. Freedman.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman attends a "Law and Diplomacy" school. He is pursuing a master's degree in "climate change POLICY". His columns are about a political issue.

Mr. Freedman describes himself as a "political junkie" (first sentence, second paragraph).

Mr. Freedman argues the pro side of the man made global warming.

---begin quote---
Steve - I found this analysis to be interesting, but somewhat misleading. It may convey the message that the scientific basis for man made climate change rests almost entirely on the output of computer models. As you well know, that is not the case, since there is a physical science foundation that underlies what goes into the models in the first place.

Scientists from various disciplines, with different data sets and perspectives, have published studies showing the human role in climate change. These range from paleoclimatologists to biologists and entomologists.

The models are used to shed further light on the changing climate and to predict future outcomes. They're extremely important, considering that we don't have an extra 'control planet' lying around, whose atmosphere we could tinker with while avoiding harmful consequences.

However, models are not the only evidence backing up scientists' conclusions that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are very likely causing global average temperatures to increase.
---end quote---

source of the above quote

And here Mr. Freedman does an entire column on the Presidential candidates and their views on "climate change".

Nope. No political advocacy going on here! And definitely no trying to convince the readers of anything. No way. ;)

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I realize that many of you, or perhaps most of you, may not be interested in the political side of this issue. But I beg you to take notice of what is going on. Please. Please. Please. Pretty please.

Did you know that hidden in the stimulus package that President Obama is trying to ram through Congress are provisions that allow the Federal government to assume the role of God? In the stimulus bill there are provisions that will set up Federal boards that will dictate to your doctor what health care he/she can and CAN NOT give you. I am not exagerrating in the slightest.

--quoting Bloomberg--
Elderly Hardest Hit

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council (464).

The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.
--end quote--

Here is the Bloomberg article.

The Federal government wants to pick who lives and who dies. And if you think they will have any hesitation whatsoever in dictating every aspect of your life, to combat a non-existent problem known as "climate change", you are completely fooling yourself. They will not.

All I can do is point out what is going on. The rest is up to you. You may want to start calling your representatives; those of you who would prefer the Government not play God. I have already called mine. But they voted in favor of it anyway.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q: I only called your posts "rants" and "diatribes," not anyone else's. Your totally off-topic post about the government "playing God" is a perfect example.

And you misquoted my column on the presidential candidates. The title was "The Candidates on Climate Change Science." There was no discussion in there about partisan politics. But nice try.

I am of the opinion that journalists should have in depth knowledge of the field they are covering, and a Masters in Climate and Society as well as a Masters in Law and Diplomacy (a foreign policy degree) from two of the top institutions in those fields can only make for more accurate coverage of what is both a scientific and a global policy challenge. Again, nice try.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 12, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

The Boston Globe Big Picture photo blog has posted a gallery of Australian wild fire images.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | February 12, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman wrote, "Your totally off-topic post about the government "playing God" is a perfect example."

It wasn't off topic at all. The entire point was to make people ask, "What will the government do to fight the mythical catastrophic man made global warming".

Once the government is willing to pick who lives and who dies, the boundaries are dissolved. Once they cross that boundary, there is nothing they won't do. They will readily dictate every single aspect of everyone's lives to fight a non-existent problem.

I realize you probably don't want people to think about that, because if they did, they would probably demand a higher standard of proof.

Mr. Freedman wrote, "And you misquoted my column on the presidential candidates. The title was "The Candidates on Climate Change Science." There was no discussion in there about partisan politics."

I never quoted your column on the presidential candidates. Not one single word. I never claimed there was a "discussion in there about partisan politics." But if anyone is interested in your political view, I would suggest they go read that column. Your political view comes shining through.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 12, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q's mantra is the repeated proclamation:

"There is
no catastrophic
man made
global warming".

Everything else from him is diversionary to defelct attention from the fact he cannot defend this absolutist statement on scientific grounds. So what else to do but spout his personal political agenda by hijacking the comments section with off-topic, excessivley verbose and anger tinged rants. Why? I'll not speculate here, except to say it's likely less about climate science than concern about Big Government policiy implications. These concerns in some respects might be justified, but they are misdirected when it comes to CWG.

A scientifically valid version of this simplistic statement (also simplistic) might read:

Global warming is real
It's most likely casued by human activities
It could be catastrophic

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | February 12, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Andrew is correct in stating that he doesn't believe I had any intention of depriving anyone of their right to free speech. Freedom of speech must remain the foundation of a healthy democracy. I would hate anyone to think that I was attempting to discredit a fellow blogger on the grounds that I might not agree with the point of view they are putting forward. My concern is the personal nature of the attcks on, in this case, Andrew.

How to deal with someone who dominates and skews the debate? Don't be tempted to respond. Stay on the topic. And silently wish that the ranting blogger might at sometime in his life have access to a course, ANY course, in diplomacy!!!!!

An update from Australia.....this morning's media covered discussions among our most respected scientists regarding the impact climate change has had on our current situation.

Posted by: wiseowl30 | February 13, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

@wiseowl30 - Nicely put. I would also add when the debate transitions from rhetorical to fallacious and from being pointed to skewering further discussions and interchanges are best left for another time and place.

Posted by: John-Burke | February 13, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

wiseowl30 wrote, "So please tell me, why is Mr Q still allowed to post comments on this site?"

Mr. Freedman wrote, "Just to clarify, I wasn't proposing excluding people who disagree with a post or a comment, and I don't think wiseowl30 was either, ..."

wiseowl30 wrote, "Andrew is correct in stating that he doesn't believe I had any intention of depriving anyone of their right to free speech."

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Caveat emptor.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 14, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I live very close to the fires in Victoria Australia and was about to evacuate.
The last time there was a fire as severe as this was 1984 Ash Wednesday.
I travelled through a 50 km section of the fire on Sunday to get supplies to one of 4 houses standing in a settlement. I have seen plenty of bushfires. This fire was like nothing before in terms of ferocity, speed and destruction. It was like a nuclear blast in many paces.
Victoria rainfall is becoming less every year according to my rain gauge. There are earlier hotter days and more consecutive hotter days. Currently it could not be any drier. The dew factor is 0.
The temp on the day of the fires was 48.8 c in the shade. The winds were northerly at 30 - 60 kms per hour on the coastal plains with wind temps up to 50-60c. In the sun and with the heat of the winds it was like standing in a blast furnace.
One person I spoke to today describe the fire that destroyed his farm as 2 giant acetyl torches being blasted over the hill behind him.
Spot fires can break out 10's of kms in front of the fire fronts in these sorts of conditions. The fuel is eucalypt forest. That oil is vaporising in the heat in front of the fire. Sometimes the areas of the forest go up like being doused in napalm.
These fires are the biggest fires since white man came here. Add all the burnt areas up and it is as big as the landmass of Britain.
If the wind had not changed from the North the fire fronts would have blown into Melbourne suburbs and there would have been hundreds of thousands dead. There was no stopping it as it was. The southern change blew it into the hills incinerating villages and towns in its path killing nearly 200 with the final figure unknown.
As for global warming who knows but one thing is for sure there is definitely climate change over the last 30 years here in Southern Australia. Ask any farmer or avid gardener.
Andrew Freedman is only quoting what is being reported down here in Victoria and it is hard to disagree with it if you’re attuned to the natural world.
I.E Victoria Australia

Posted by: ivorebigpondcom | February 15, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

ivorebigpondcom wrote, "Andrew Freedman is only quoting what is being reported down here in Victoria ..."

That is a strawman. I never said he wasn't quoting others. I acknowledge that he is quoting others.

You illustrate my quandary. I wish to convey my condemnation of what Mr. Freedman is doing, but I try to be as polite as possible in the process. I try to strike the middle ground. And in doing so there are those who criticize me for being mean, nasty, etc... and then there are those like you who apparently fail to grasp my criticism. So what do I do now? Do I ignore your comment, or do I rephrase my criticism in a more direct manner? The ol' proverbial rock and a hard place.

My criticism is that Mr. Freedman is exploiting a tragedy for his own personal agenda. The bodies have not even been recovered, much less buried and Mr. Freedman is attempting to exploit them. It is unseemly to say the very least.

How can I make it more plain than that???

If he wishes to use this tragedy to further his agenda, the least he could do is wait until after the dead are buried. But maybe I am just a relic of a bygone era.

Although not related to my criticism, allow me to address your "only quoting what is being reported down here" assertion. Do you only have people who agree with the catastrophic man made global warming theory in Australia? I know for a fact that you don't. Do you have an example where Mr. Freedman reports on what the skeptics have to say, other than to mock them? The point is that he actively promotes the catastrophic man made global warming theory. He seeks out the opinion of those that agree with him. I dare say he has not sought, in a serious manner, the opinion of one single skeptic scientist. And there are LOTS of them.


ivorebigpondcom also wrote, "... and it is hard to disagree with it if you’re attuned to the natural world.
I.E Victoria Australia"

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the natural world extends beyond Victoria Australia. Quite a bit beyond.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 15, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

ivorebigpondcom wrote, "Andrew Freedman is only quoting what is being reported down here in Victoria ..."

That is a strawman. I never said he wasn't quoting others. I acknowledge that he is quoting others.

You illustrate my quandary. I wish to convey my condemnation of what Mr. Freedman is doing, but I try to be as polite as possible in the process. I try to strike the middle ground. And in doing so there are those who criticize me for being mean, nasty, etc... and then there are those like you who apparently fail to grasp my criticism. So what do I do now? Do I ignore your comment, or do I rephrase my criticism in a more direct manner? The ol' proverbial rock and a hard place.

My criticism is that Mr. Freedman is exploiting a tragedy for his own personal agenda. The bodies have not even been recovered, much less buried and Mr. Freedman is attempting to exploit them. It is unseemly to say the very least.

How can I make it more plain than that???

If he wishes to use this tragedy to further his agenda, the least he could do is wait until after the dead are buried. But maybe I am just a relic of a bygone era.

Although not related to my criticism, allow me to address your "only quoting what is being reported down here" assertion. Do you only have people who agree with the catastrophic man made global warming theory in Australia? I know for a fact that you don't. Do you have an example where Mr. Freedman reports on what the skeptics have to say, other than to mock them? The point is that he actively promotes the catastrophic man made global warming theory. He seeks out the opinion of those that agree with him. I dare say he has not sought, in a serious manner, the opinion of one single skeptic scientist. And there are LOTS of them.


ivorebigpondcom also wrote, "... and it is hard to disagree with it if you’re attuned to the natural world.
I.E Victoria Australia"

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the natural world extends beyond Victoria Australia. Quite a bit beyond.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 15, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

My apologies for the double post. It was unintentional. I mistakenly thought that NoSript has mislead me about whether or not I was signed in.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 15, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

What's been interesting over the past several days of discussion and post-mortem of the Victorian fires, is that there has not been one dissenting voice so far, regarding climate change and it's part in our present (and ongoing) fire disaster.

Our continent is fragile and in the world of climate change scientists, is seen as the "canary in the mine-shaft". I guess that's why people such as Andrew Freedman take time to write a column on the other side of the world about fires in Australia. It's why people like myself dare to join the debate from the other side of the world, because I see what has happened here as highly relevant and would hope that we can all learn from it.

Posted by: wiseowl30 | February 15, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

wrote, "What's been interesting over the past several days of discussion and post-mortem of the Victorian fires, is that there has not been one dissenting voice so far, regarding climate change and it's part in our present (and ongoing) fire disaster."

I think that is more of a reflection on sensationalistic and biased news reporting and where you choose to get your news than anything else.

Try Googling Australian wild fires +IOD
or
Australian wildfires +IOD

Did you know that as little as six months ago nearly everyone was trying to blame the frog extinction on global warming? Today they do not. Today it is being blamed on disease.

I think six months from now calm minds will point to drought (caused by the IOD, not global warming), arson, and local ordinances as the big contributors to the fire and the horrible loss of life it caused.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 16, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

wiseowl30, is there a good charity down there where people can contribute money to help the survivors?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | February 16, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

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