Thursday, January 23, 2020

A message from the President of the Australian Academy of Science



Dear fellow researchers,

You may have seen my recent statement regarding the Australian bushfires at the website of the Australian Academy of Science.
https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/statement-regarding-australian-bushfires

As you can recognize from my statement, the cause of the recent bushfires is attributed to global warming. This is despite the sun currently being at the very bottom of it's roughly 10.5 year cycle. We have long known that these large fire events occur in synchrony with the dry side of Australia's cyclic climate of droughts and floods, which has a periodicity of approximately 21 years, or two sun cycles.

However, it is best if the Australian scientific community keeps this "under wraps", so to speak. If we do not use global warming to shift the blame for the fires, the Australian public will realize our land management practices and policies have been a failure for decades, and that we are just bungling clowns with no idea what we're doing, rather than thinking of us as very important and wise people.

Please help us to shift the blame by keeping the lie alive: The bushfires were caused by global warming.

Yours sincerely, a know-it-all medical researcher with no authority whatsoever to speak on land management issues,

Professor John Shine, AH, DH, FW.


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Check out my other blog post with my perspective on the Australian fires here:
https://www.badperson.net/2020/01/a-perspective-on-recent-massive-fires.html

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Someone recently responded to me about this parody message with the following:

"Dave, I think you are mischaracterizing his statement. To me it reads like a marketing pitch urging people to reach out to scientists. "With much misinformation in the public domain about the cause and impacts of the bushfires, we urge Australians to continue to consult reputable sources of evidence-based information such as the Australian Academy of Science, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology." I think he stops short of blaming the bushfires on climate change, but he does touch on the common expectation that extreme weather events will become more common as part of his marketing pitch. Does Dave the scientist agree with Dave Bad Person that climate change is playing no role in the apparent increase in the frequency and severity of wildfires, droughts, floods, freezes, etc.? I don't deny that poor management is probably making a bad situation worse in Australia, but I also believe that available management tools and resources may not be up to the task."


This was my response:
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Well, as someone whose childhood home burned down in the last dry phase of Australia's climate cycle 17 years ago, and as a former medical researcher and current electronics industry worker who also has no authority to speak on land management issues....

Yes climate change has an effect on severe weather events.
No you cannot manage the forests of Australia, they are far too vast to be managed.

Australia's cyclic climate of droughts and floods, which has a period of roughly 2 sun cycles or ~21 years, has been known about for well over a century, long before anthropogenic climate change really kicked in. Even Captain Cook wrote of massive fires as he discovered the east coast of Australia in 1770. A young 19 year old Dorothae Mackellar wrote in her 1908 poem "My Country" about "droughts and flooding rains", and "fire and flood and famine". The sun is currently at the bottom of it's cycle, so if they thought this was a really hot summer in Australia, and it was, then just wait another 5 or 6 years when the sun is at the top of its cycle. However by then Australia's climate cycle will probably be back to heavy rains and flooding again.

The plants of Australia are particularly well evolved and adapted to fire, so this has been going on for millions of years. The Aboriginal people regularly burned the landscape in the 40,000 years they've been there. With the Aborigines largely gone from the land and the advent of misguided green ideologies, the forests have been allowed to go unchecked and fuel levels have reached a crisis point, which has led to increasingly devastating mega-fires occurring during the last several dry phases of the Australian climate cycle, going back to before I was even born.

One of the major areas of these current fires is the south coast of NSW, where I spent many childhood vacations, and where a number of my relatives currently live, who are providing me with some info on what's going on. The entire region is mostly forests all the way from the mountains to the dunes behind the beach. Fortunately my relatives have been lucky so far, with the fires missing their houses by as little as 100 feet, but they have friends who've lost everything. I've watched this region grow as people have expanded the sleepy fishing villages and beach towns further into the forests. They chose to build in the forest, and now they're feeling the bite.

But yeah, this fucking clown in his ivory tower has a statement to make and that statement is "We didn't have a plan the last few times this kind of thing happened, and we don't have a plan now, but feel free to look to us for answers as we shift the blame for our lack of foresight". He's nothing but a hoity-toity over-inflated ego-maniacal sack of shit.
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So that was that. Do you get the feeling I don't respect Professor Shine's point of view? What makes you think that? Lol!

As population pressures, prior land uses, personal preferences, and economics drive people to build in the urban-wildland interface, some quick ideas off the top of my head that might help reduce wildfire losses are:
  • Reconsider construction methods, building design, and fire-safe landscaping. Using less flammable materials, reducing overhangs, etc. is one approach to minimizing damage to homes and infrastructure. 
  • Associated changes in requirements for building codes, buffer zones, and fire suppression.
  • Back burning of areas near people and property that needs to be protected.
  • Look at the benefits of underground construction:  great temperature control, fire-safe, plus you can still use the ground above for habitat, cultivation, etc. The only downside to underground building is the views, but many Australian animals have figured out to go underground, such as the wombat for example.
  • I'm sure I could keep going if I thought about this for more than 1 minute, unlike Professor Shine who has big talk and no real solutions.

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Here's an aerial view of the Australian Academy of Science in all its glory. It consists of two buildings: a circular domed building with three internal floors that house a 156 seat lecture hall, two meeting rooms, a few offices, a small library, and an archive storage area. The other is a two story H-shaped building that was built in the early 20th century and once served as a hotel for new public servants who were transferred to the city of Canberra. That's it, the Australian Academy of Science, just as small and inconsequential as the statement from its current president.
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Do you get the feeling that I don't respect most of the people in academia? It might be something to do with the 17 year career I had in academia.

17 years is a big chunk of someone's life and I don't appreciate that academics took advantage of my youth and naivety so they could further their careers in frivolous dream chasing. I was a poor schmuck from a poor working class family who just wanted employment and income out of my university education. Unfortunately most of the idiots I worked with were from fairly wealthy families for whom employment and income were never major concerns in their life, and therefore they assumed that employment and income weren't major concerns in my life as well. 

There are good scientists out there, but they're few and far between. I've often seen academics use various mental and verbal systems of defense and denial to lie to themselves and others about the goals and utility of their careers. For example, if challenged, they will often name great scientists of the mid 20th century and compare themselves to them, as if all scientists are of the same caliber. I find it easy to see through that kind of bullshit. Now days I'm all about putting science to work for society, rather than pointless frivolous dream chasing, or empty statements and inaction from an entitled gasbag to appease people who are desperately looking for answers for why they just lost everything.

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