Climate change bigger problem than fuel load

I READ Ralph Baraclough’s letter with interest (Gippsland Times 5/3) regarding recent fires. 

The letter began telling how there had been major fires within eight years and some places had been burnt out three times in that period.

 I thought the letter was going to explain how increased average summer temperature and dryness was a key to the increased frequency and ferocity of wildfires around the world, not just in Victoria where we have had many over the years, even during times of regular controlled burns. 

In 1939, Black Friday, there was a huge loss of life and property, a time when regular controlled burning had been practiced until that year, when many men began leaving the country, but we still had a major bushfire. 

Others occurred under regimes of regular burning, but when conditions were dry and suited wildfire.

By the time I got midway through the letter I realised the letter was giving cattle grazing in the High Country a plug and giving those greenies a good smack as well. 

For some perspective,  with areas burnt out three times in eight years, clearly the biggest contributor to bushfires these days is the fact that our environment is becoming hotter and dryer. 

Fire scientists tell us that reducing fuel loads reduces the intensity of fires; they also tell us that dryness and high average temperatures contribute to the ferocity of fires. 

This raises the question, do we want or have to burn the whole of the Victorian bush every year to protect ourselves from fire? 

As this year saw another record breaking summer, the hottest on record, Bureau of Meteorology figures show hot days have doubled since 1960. 

Ask yourself, how many days of 40 degrees did we have this summer in Gippsland?

Not a normal figure for this area. 

Global warming is sending us on a trajectory of exponentially hotter drier average weather, unless we cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

With all due respect and I mean that sincerely, I know of the letter writer’s work and frustrations, but worrying about fuel loads and ignoring climate change seems a little bit like removing the kindling while pouring petrol on it. 

Burning the entire bush every year adds a large amount of CO2 to the atmosphere, which might be OK if our atmosphere was not already overly endowed with greenhouse gases. 

Maybe we do need a carbon tax after all, to continue the good, cost effective work of bringing non-polluting renewable energies on stream.

 Then we could burn off without overburdening natural carbon sinks such as the oceans.

 I wonder how many people realise it is already far cheaper to put solar panels on your roof than to buy coal or gas generated electricity.

 That leaves more money to spend on other stuff — great for our economy, especially if we buy Australian.