Trumpist Climate Change Denial, Australian Bushfires, Fuel Reduction, Biochar & Carbon Debt

austalia bushfire

Australia has been devastated by catastrophic bushfires in all states across the continent. The Australian fire season used to encompass the 6 months of Spring and Summer but now encompasses 9 months from late Winter to early Autumn. The effective climate change denialist and anti-science Coalition Government has a major responsibility. Mechanical fuel reduction coupled with biochar (charcoal, carbon, C) generation is a possible mitigation avenue in a worsening, climate change-, drought- and warming-driven disaster prospect.

(1). The catastrophic 2019-2020 Australian bushfires by the numbers.

As of 10 January 2020 the numbers of hectares burned are as follows: Australian Capital Territory (0),  New South Wales (4,900,000), Northern Territory (not available),  Queensland (2,500,000), South Australia (274,000), Tasmania (32,000),  Victoria (1,200,000), and Western Australia (1,700,000) for a total of 10,700,000 hectares.

As of 10 January 2020 the numbers of people tragically killed  are as follows: Australian Capital Territory (1),  New South Wales (20), Northern Territory (0),  Queensland (0), South Australia (4 ), Tasmania (0),  Victoria (3), and Western Australia (0) for a total of 28 bushfire-related deaths.

As of 10 January 2020 the numbers of homes destroyed   are as follows: Australian Capital Territory (0),  New South Wales (1,687), Northern Territory (5),  Queensland (48), South Australia (161), Tasmania (2),  Victoria (300), and Western Australia (1) for a total of 2,204 homes destroyed [1].

These terrible numbers are set to increase with the global warming-impacted “new normal” of an Australian  bushfire season likely to extend for a further 3-4 months  i.e. through the remainder of Summer and early Autumn [2]. Large areas of eastern New South Wales and eastern Victoria have been subject to declarations of emergency, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been involved on land, air and sea, and about 100,000 people have been evacuated to safety. These Australian bushfires have variously commenced in July (Winter) 2019 and are likely  to extend into March and April (Autumn) 2020 [2]. The extension of the “new normal” bushfire season into cooler and wetter Autumn and Winter months has reduced the ability of various fire services to safely conduct fuel hazard reduction burning to minimize the forest and grassland fuel load.

There are 100 hectares per square kilometer so the area of Australia burned so far (10,700,000 hectares, 107,000 square kilometers) is 1.4% of the area of Australia (7.7 million square kilometres) , 44.1% of the area of England (242,495 square kilometres), and 93.4% of the combined area of Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark (114,600 square kilometres).

The burning continues

(2) The 2019-2020  Australian bushfires have so far emitted 750 Mt CO2-e.

According to the official data of the Australian Government Department of Energy and the Environment Australia’s Domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions had been steadily decreasing under successive Labor Governments (2007-2013) but have been steadily rising since the pro-coal, pro-gas, pro-fossil fuels and  variously climate change denialist or effective climate change denialist  Liberal Party-National Party Coalition  came to power  on the basis of a dishonest, anti-science and environmentally disastrous slogan of “No Carbon Tax” [3].

Dr Niels Andela, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and a collaborator in the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) , has estimated from satellite data that in the period 1 August 2019 – 13 December 2019 the NSW bushfires have emitted 195 Mt CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) and the Queensland fires another 55 Mt CO2-e , this corresponding to 47% Australia’s annual Domestic carbon pollution of 532 Mt CO2-e [4].

However the Sydney Morning Herald based on updated  estimates from  Dr Pep Canadell, a senior research scientist for CSIRO and the executive director of the Global Carbon Project (2 January 2020): “Australia’s annual industrial emissions budget in 2018-19 was 532 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This season’s bushfires, which have burnt through more than 5 million hectares across the country, are estimated to have released two-thirds of this amount – or about 350 million tonnes – of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere so far. Until recently, Australia’s forests were thought to reabsorb all the carbon released in bushfires, meaning they achieved net zero emissions. But scientists say climate change, drought and escalating fires combined are reducing forests’ ability to reabsorb carbon… The 350 million tonne figure was extrapolated from data on NASA’s Global Fire Emissions Database issued two weeks ago for NSW’s bushfires, which at that stage had burnt 2.7 million hectares and emitted 190 million tonnes of carbon dioxide” [5].

However Wikipedia reports that as of 8 January 2020, in the Australian 2019–20 bushfire season 10.7 million hectares have burned since June 2019 (a bushfire season of 10 months rather than the previous Spring-Summer norm of 6 months)[1].

Accordingly total bushfire emissions = 190 Mt CO2-e x 10.7 Mha/ 2.7 Mha = 753 Mt CO2-e  or 1.4 times Australia’s annual Domestic CO2-e emissions (ditto, 350 Mt CO2-e x 10.7 Mha/ 5 Mha = 749 Mt CO2-e) i.e. Australia’s total emissions jumped  this 2019/20 financial year from 532 Mt CO2-e to 532 Mt CO2-e  + 753 Mt CO2-e = 1,285 Mt CO2-e with 3-4  months to go.

(3). Huge loss of forest photosynthetic CO2 capture capacity.

Missing in this accounting is the immense  and prolonged loss of photosynthetic CO2 capture capacity by South East Australian eucalyptus forests  that can be  the best forest carbon sinks in the world as reported by  Keith et al. (2009): “From analysis of published global site biomass data (n = 136) from primary forests, we discovered (i) the world’s highest known total biomass carbon density (living plus dead) of 1,867 tonnes carbon per ha (average value from 13 sites) occurs in Australian temperate moist Eucalyptus regnans forest” [6]. The bushfires are not only generating GHG emission greater than the national annual emissions, they are also causing a major loss of the ability of  107,000 square kilometres of horrendously burned bush to sequester  CO2 through photosynthesis.

(4). Serious  long-term health impacts from toxic pollutants from bushfires.

Far more serious for humans is the long-term  impact on health of prolonged exposure to elevated CO (carbon monoxide), N2O (nitrous oxide), NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) , SO2 (sulphur dioxide) and PM2.5 (deadly, fine carbon particulates) , especially in smoke-blanketed, population-dense  Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.  8 million people die world-wide from air pollution each year (WHO) [7], with this including  about  3.8 million from indoor, household pollution, 4.2 million from ambient (outdoor) pollution,  10,000  Londoners, 10,000 Australians and 75,000 people from the long-term effects of pollutants from the burning of Australia’s world-leading coal exports [8].    These presently  catastrophic Australian bushfires will have a deadly harvest in the long-term.

(5). Mechanical fuel load reduction (MFLR) may help reduce the, likelihood and severity of bushfires.

F. Ximines et al. (2017): “Australia is the most fire-prone of all continents, with large areas of the country affected by bushfires each year. Bushfires can have profound impacts on communities and on the environment. Traditionally, prescribed burns have been used as a fuel reduction treatment. However, the proportion of land that is subjected to prescribed burns in Australia has decreased since 1990. This is partly due to the increasingly smaller windows of opportunity available to conduct burns safely, concerns about operational costs, health impacts from smoke, and the social acceptability of prescribed burning. These issues suggest a need for considering alternative fuel reduction approaches in select urban and rural areas, such as the potential for mechanical fuel load reduction (MFLR) treatments. The aim of MFLR is to reduce size, likelihood and severity of bushfires” [9].

(6). The US market  price of biochar (charcoal, carbon, C)  from forestry and agricultural  waste is $2,580 per ton.

Once cellulosic biomass is mechanically harvested it can be transported and converted to biochar (charcoal, carbon, C) through anaerobic pyrolysis at 400-700 C. The biochar can then be added back to soils, safely sequestered underground (e.g. in old coal mines) or used for other purposes (e.g.  as an activated carbon substitute for filtration of polluted air or water).

Farm Energy (2019): “Biochar is charred biomass [charcoal, carbon, C], which is added to soil to improve soil health and soil quality. The solid, charcoal-like substance is created using a process known as [anaerobic] pyrolysis, which is basically the heating of biomass to a high temperature (>400° degrees C) in the absence of oxygen. The addition of biochar to soils is actually an ancient technique that was used by early civilizations to enhance soil productivity. The potential importance of biochar was recognized when anthropologists discovered dark, highly fertile soils in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. It is speculated that thousands of years ago, farmers living in the Amazon engineered the terra preta soils (called “terra preta,” or “black earth” in Portuguese) by adding biochar along with fish bones and other organic residues to the otherwise infertile soils. Similar soil enhancement practices have also been discovered by early farming cultures in Japan, South America, and Africa. The biochar-enriched soils have been shown to have significantly higher organic carbon content, higher water-holding capacity, higher nutrient holding capacity, and lower nutrient leaching rates compared to adjacent soils that have not been amended with biochar…The report found that a majority of the global market share comes from the US (65%), followed by Europe (25%), Asia (7%), and Africa (3%). Ninety percent (90%) of commercial activity is focused on small specialty retail markets—mostly nursery and garden centers. A small percentage (10%) is focused on larger scale markets, such as agriculture or land remediation projects.  It has been reported that Japan has a growing commercial biochar industry, with approximately 15,000 tons traded annually (Okimori et al., 2003). In 2011, 94,159 tons of compost, a common soil amendment, was sold at a price of $30-50 per ton (USDA ERS, 2011). The price per ton for biochar is far higher and the volumes far lower. Companies responding to the IBI survey reported sales of only 911 tons in 2013, sixty-five percent (597 tons) of which was produced in North America. The average price for biochar in the US was $1.29 per pound or $2,580 per ton. In the near term, due to price point, biochar will likely only be used in high-end specialty markets, but there is growing interest in developing biochar into new products that take advantage of its unique chemical properties. For example, today wastewater treatment facilities purchase thousands of tons of activated carbon annually to help absorb potential contaminants and reduce odors. Biochar has been shown to be a cost-effective alternative” [10].

(7). A possible 9-12 Gt biochar carbon from forestry and agricultural waste annually versus 9 Gt carbon pollution  annually from industry.

I wrote the following a decade ago  on the amount of biochar that could be potentially generated annually  from waste forestry  and agricultural cellulosic biomass (2009): “Thus p224, Progress in Thermochemical Biomass Conversion, volume 1, IAE Bioenergy, ed. A.V. Bridgewater (Blackwell Science) [11] informs us that we could obtain 1.7 GtC/yr  (straw from agriculture) +  4.2 GtC/yr  (total grass upgrowth from grasslands upgrowth)  + 6 GtC/yr (possible sustainable woodharvest) = 11.9 GtC/yr.  From this one can see why biochar expert Professor Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University is correct  calculating that it is realistically possible to fix 9.5bn tonnes of carbon per year using biochar, noting that global annual production of carbon from fossil fuels is 8.5bn tonnes. According to a UK Guardian report: “Johannes Lehmann of Cornell university has calculated that it is realistically possible to fix 9.5bn tonnes of carbon per year using biochar. The global production of carbon from fossil fuels stands at 8.5bn tonnes” [12, 13].

One can see also why Professor Lovelock FRS is also correct in his assessment: “There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste – which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering – into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast … The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes [550 billion tonnes] of carbon [carbon dioxide, CO2] yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes [CO2]. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won’t do it” [14].

Professor Lovelock’s estimates are consonant with those of Dr J.A. Harrison, specifically a terrestrial carbon fixation of 121.3 GtC/y (449 Gt CO2 = 449 billion tonnes of CO2) of which about half returns annually to the atmosphere through animal and plant respiration and most of the remaining half returns to the air through the action of soil fungi and bacteria  [15, 16].

(8). Massive and fraudulent ignoring of carbon pollution “externality” costs is leading to ecocide, speciescide, climate genocide, and ultimately to  omnicide and terracide.

Fundamental to chemistry and physics are the 3 Laws of Thermodynamics, specifically (1) the energy of a closed system is constant, (2) the entropy (disorder, chaos, lack of information content) strives to a maximum, and (3) zero motion in a perfect crystal at absolute zero degrees Kelvin (-273.15 degrees Centigrade). Polya’s 3 Laws of Economics mirror the 3 Laws of Thermodynamics and are (1) Price minus COP (Cost of Production) equals profit; (2) Deception about COP strives to a maximum; and (3) No work, price or profit on a dead planet. These fundamental laws help  expose the failure of neoliberal capitalism in relation to wealth inequality, massive tax evasion by multinational corporations, and  horrendous avoidable deaths from poverty and pollution culminating in general ecocide, speciescide, climate genocide, omnicide and terracide [17].


It is now effectively too late to avoid a catastrophic plus 2 degrees Centigrade temperature rise but we are nevertheless obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for future generations. Critical to intergenerational justice and intergenerational equity is the notion of Carbon Debt (Carbon Price) that  is simply the damage-related cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution that if not addressed now will inescapably have to be paid by future generations. Thus, for example, if sea walls are not built then coastal populations will drown or be displaced. However GHG emissions continue to rise inexorably [18- 20] and there is presently  no global program to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere to a safe and sustainable pre-Industrial Revolution level of about 300 ppm CO2 as advocated by many scientists and science-informed activists [21, 22]. Nevertheless GHG pollution and negative consequences in numerous areas  (notably ecocide and speciescide) are relentlessly increasing to the point of exceedance or near-exceedance of critical tipping points  for massive irreversible changes to hugely impact Humanity and the Biosphere (18-20, 23-38]. Eminent physicist Professor Steven Hawking has succinctly summarized our dire circumstance thus: “We see great peril if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change”  [37, 38]. Facing this worsening existential threat [39-43] , young people,  as exemplified by teenage activist  Greta Thunberg, are now vociferously demanding massive climate action [44- 47].

Mendacious neoliberal capitalism falsely boasts of its efficiency and efficacy but,  in keeping with Polya’s Second law of Economics, utterly ignores the huge economic externality of the social and environmental cost of pollution  that should be added to the Cost of Production. This constitutes the greatest fraud in Australian and indeed Human history. Climate change economist Sir Nicholas Stern critically stated (2006):  “The science tells us that GHG emissions are an externality; in other words, our emissions affect the lives of others. When people do not pay for the consequences of their actions we have market failure. This is the greatest market failure the world has seen” [48, 49],  and also argued for an international programme to combat deforestation, which contributes 15-20% of greenhouse gas emissions (2006): “For $10-15bn (£4.8-7.2bn) per year, a programme could be constructed that could stop up to half the deforestation” [49]. Social conservative but science-trained Pope Francis has demanded that the environmental and social cost of pollution be “fully borne” by the polluters [50, 51]. Further, noting the massive biodiversity loss, and the 100-1,000-fold greater species extinction rate in the present Anthropocene era [52, 53], we must not destroy what we cannot replace, and any species is priceless [54].

(9). Damage-related cost of carbon pollution $200 per tonne CO2 – saving 12 Gt C as biochar annually saves $8.8 trillion per annum.

Dr Chris Hope (Cambridge) has estimated a damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2 [55]  but the IMF has determined that average global Carbon Price is presently a mere $2 per tonne CO2 [56, 57]. Dr Chris Hope (Judge Business School, 90 Nobel Laureate University of Cambridge, UK) has estimated the damage-related cost of carbon pollution (2011):If the best current scientific and economic evidence is to be believed, and climate change could be a real and serious problem , the appropriate response is to institute today a climate change tax equal to the mean estimate of the damage caused by a tonne of CO2   emissions . The raw calculations from the default PAGE09 model suggest the tax should be about $100 per tonne of CO2 in the EU. But correcting for the limited time horizon of the model , and bringing the calculations forward to 2102 [2012] , in year 2012  dollars , brings the suggested tax up to about $150 per tonne of CO2 . There are good arguments for setting the initial tax at about $250 per tonne of CO2 in the US , while starting off at a much lower level , maybe $15 per tonne of CO2 , in the poorest regions of the world , all in the year 2012 , in year 2012 dollars. That such policy advice would not pass the laugh test, particularly in the US [and Australia], shows that the rhetoric about getting to grips with climate change has not been seriously thought through to its logical conclusion. As a result, rather than falling, greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise (Le Quere et al, 2009). A fiscally neutral significant climate change tax is the best chance we have of bringing the climate change problem under control” [55].

An International Monetary Fund  (IMF) report on climate change mitigation  advocates a Carbon Tax of $75 per ton of CO2 by 2030 that, if progressively implemented in the G20 countries alone, would prevent an estimated 4 million air pollution deaths by 2030 [56, 57]. However the effective climate change denialist Coalition Government  of Australia, a G20 country that is  among world leaders in 15 areas of climate criminality (for detailed documentation see [58]),   has flatly rejected a global Carbon Tax [57, 59, 60] . If all G20 countries followed Australia’s rejection of a global Carbon Tax then they would be complicit in an unconscionable Climate Genocide and Climate Holocaust killing 4 million people  over  the next decade [56, 57].

Professor James Hansen et al  (of 96 Nobel Laureate Columbia University) have also arrived at a Carbon Price estimate of about $200 per tonne CO2 (2018): “One ppm of CO2 is 2.12 billion tons of carbon or about 7.77 billion tons of CO2. Recently Keith et al. (2018) achieved a cost breakthrough in carbon capture, demonstrated with a pilot plant in Canada. Cost of carbon capture, not including the cost of transportation and storage of the CO2, is $113-232 per ton of CO2. Thus the cost of extracting 1 ppm of CO2 from the atmosphere is $878-1803 billion. In other words, the cost, in a single year, of closing the gap between reality and the IPCC scenario that limits climate change to +1.5°C is already about $1 trillion. And that is without the cost of transporting and storing the CO2, or consideration of whether there will be citizen objection to that transportation and storage. This annual cost will rise rapidly, unless there is a rapid slowdown in carbon emissions… cost of CO2 storage… has been estimated as $10-20/tCO2” [30]. Based on a  Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2,  requisite  atmospheric CO2 draw-down from the present 407 ppm CO2 over the next decade will cost up to $12.7 to $24.9 trillion annually for various 342 to 280 ppm CO2 goals [54].

(10). At $200 per tonne CO2 the real cost of the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires (so far, and lives lost aside)  is $150 billion.

At $200 per tonne CO2 the real cost of the Australian bushfires (so far) is 750 Mt CO2-e x $200 per tonne CO2 = $150 billion (this ignoring  lives lost). By way of comparison, the climate criminal  Australia Government has  committed about $2 billion over 2 years for a National Bushfire  Recovery Agency headed by Andrew Colvin, APM, OA, a former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) [61].

However the $150 billion cost of the 2019-20 Australian bushfires is just the tip of the iceberg of the cost of the climate criminality of the Coalition Australian Government. Thus Australia’s annual Domestic carbon pollution is asserted by the Australian Government to be  532 Mt CO2-e [4, 5] and at $200 per tonne CO2 this amounts to a cost of $106 billion per year.

But it gets worse. Taking land use into account and considering the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane (CH4) on a 20 year time frame (circa 80 relative to the same mass of CO2) rather than on a 100 year time frame (25), Australia’s annual per capita  Domestic  GHG pollution in tonnes CO2-equivalent  per person per year  is  52.9 or 116 if including its huge GHG-generating  exports [62-65]. Assuming a present Australian population of 25 million this translates to 1,323 Mt CO2-e (or 2,900 Mt CO2-e if one includes Australia’s Exported GHG pollution). Assuming a damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2, this in turn translates to a real cost of $265 billion (or $580 billion if one includes Australia’s Exported GHG pollution).

To put this into a wider Australian  national context, the Australian GDP was $1.9 trillion (2019) [66] and the gross Australian government debt was $552 billion (2017). Thus Australia’s annual additional Carbon Debt ($580 billion per year)  is similar to the accumulated gross Australian government debt ($552 billion). Of course Humanity shares  one ocean and one atmosphere with the Australians  and thus Australia’s annual additional Carbon Debt of $580 billion per year  is imposed on all of Humanity, and represents  an inescapable burden on all future generations.  At some point Humanity (and especially the young) will tell climate criminal Australia to stop it [44-47].

(11). 85,000 preventable  Australian deaths annually from “lifestyle” or “political choice” reasons.

Air pollution kills  8 million people each year [7], with this including 75,000 annual deaths from the long-term impact of pollutants from the burning of Australia’s world-leading coal exports [8].  About 10,000 Australians die each year from air pollution, with  200,000 having died thus this century [8]. However this is just the tip of an iceberg of Australian preventable deaths. Thus each year about 85,000 Australians die preventably from “life style” and “political  choice” reasons, the breakdown (including some overlaps) being as follows:  (1) 26,000 annual Australian deaths from adverse hospital events, (2) 17,000 obesity-related Australian deaths,  (3) 15,500 smoking-related Australian deaths, (4) 10,000 carbon burning pollution-derived Australian deaths, (5) 4,000 avoidable Indigenous Australian deaths, (6) 5,600 Australian alcohol-related deaths, (7) 2,900 Australian suicides (circa 100  being veterans) , (8) 1,400 Australian road deaths, (9) 630 Australian opiate drug-related deaths with 570 linked  to US restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry, (10) 550 heat stress deaths, and (11) 300 Australian homicides (80 being of women killed domestically) [67-71].

(12). Livestock deaths.

Of  Australia’s cattle (24 million beef cattle and 2.6 million dairy cows), 9% are in the present bushfire area.  Of Australia’s  71 million sheep and lambs, 12% are in the present bushfire zone [72, 73].   It is  estimated that 100,000 animals may have perished so far in the bushfires [72]. There have been massive losses of wildlife, notably of  the iconic koala in Queensland and New South Wales.  Harvesting of grasslands in bushfire threatened areas could have provided  desperately needed fodder for livestock in drought-impacted areas. Considerations of the confinement, feeding,  watering  and humane  protection of livestock in bushfire-threatened areas raise major humane and ethical questions.

(13). Experts: climate change is exacerbating drought and forest fires.

Climate change is exacerbating drought and forest fires world-wide (as well as causing ice melting, sea level rise and exacerbation of the intensity of tropical storms). Thus the  expert  Australian Climate Council (formerly the Australian Climate Commission that was scrapped by the effective climate change  denialist Coalition Government in 2013)  on climate change impacting worsening drought in Australia (2018): “Climate change is likely making drought conditions in southwest and southeast Australia worse. Climate change has contributed to a southward shift in weather systems that typically bring cool season rainfall to southern Australia. Since the 1970s late autumn and early winter rainfall has decreased by 15 percent in southeast Australia, and Western Australia’s southwest region has experienced a 15 percent decline in cool season rainfall. Climate change is also driving an increase in the intensity and frequency of hot days and heatwaves in Australia, exacerbating drought conditions. Queensland and New South Wales are currently in the grip of severe drought, with drought declared for 16.4 percent of New South Wales and 57.6 percent of Queensland. Current drought conditions come after a 2016/2017 summer characterised by record-breaking temperatures, followed by a record dry winter. Rainfall over southern Australia during autumn 2018 was the second lowest on record. Time spent in drought is projected to increase in the future across southern Australia. Future drying trends in Australia will be most pronounced over southwest Western Australia, with total reductions in autumn and winter precipitation potentially as high as 50 percent by the late 21st century” [74].

Similarly the Australian Climate Council has issued a report on the exacerbation of bushfire risk due to climate change (2019): “Key Findings. 1.The catastrophic, unprecedented fire conditions currently affecting NSW and Queensland have been aggravated by climate change. Bushfire risk was exacerbated by record breaking drought, very dry fuels and soils, and record-breaking heat. 2. Bushfire conditions are now more dangerous than in the past. The risks to people and property have increased and fire seasons have lengthened. It is becoming more dangerous to fight fires in Australia. 3.The fire season has lengthened so substantially that it has already reduced opportunities for fuel reduction burning. This means it is harder to prepare for worsening conditions. 4.The costs of fighting fires are increasing. Australia relies on resource sharing arrangements between countries and states and territories within Australia. As seasons overlap and fires become more destructive, governments will be increasingly constrained in their ability to share resources and the costs of tackling fires will increase. 5.The government must develop an urgent plan to (1) prepare Australian communities, health and emergency services for escalating fire danger; and (2) rapidly phase out the burning of coal oil and gas which is driving more dangerous fires” [75].

In 2019 over 11,000 scientists signed up to a World scientists’ warning of a Climate Emergency that sets out trends in 24 climate-related  areas over the last 40 years [26].  Reproduced  here is my  analysis of the bushfire-related section of [26]:  “Figure 2 (l). Area burned in the United States (million hectares per year)” involves very scattered data.  However, assuming the authors’ quasi-linear best fit  involving an increase from 0.9 (1983) to 3.2 (2018) , one can estimate  an increase of 0.066 million hectares per year  (+ 44.1% per decade, +4.4% per year). Extrapolating from this average yields  an estimate of  4.0 million hectares burned in 2030. Comments. In 2019 alone there have been massive forest fires in California, the Amazon and continent-wide in Australia. The Guardian Australia: “The link between rising greenhouse gas emissions and increased bushfire risk is complex but, according to major science agencies, clear. Climate change does not create bushfires but it can and does make them worse. A number of factors contribute to bushfire risk, including [elevated] temperature, fuel load, dryness, [and]  wind speed and [decreased] humidity… The year coming into the 2019-20 summer has been unusually warm and dry for large parts of Australia. Above-average temperatures now occur most years and 2019 had the fifth-driest start to the year on record, and the driest since 1970. Australia recorded its hottest month in January 2019, its third-hottest July and its hottest October day in some areas, among other temperature records” [76]. has listed 10 ways in which climate change can variously make wildfires worse: (1) hot, dry, windy weather,  (2) more plant fuel, (3) change of plant species to  more flammable, dryness-compatible species, (4)  last-drop transpiration by thirsty plants, (5) more lightning, (6) differential warming of the Arctic and a weakened jet stream (this sinking drier and hotter air),  (7) the periodic El Nino events lead to decreased rainfall, increased  temperatures and increased fire risk in Indonesia and eastern Australia, (8) increase in the intensity of bushfires to unstoppable, (9) increased winter survival of pine beetles  with increased flammable dead wood in Canadian boreal forests, (10) positive feedback from increased CO2 -> increased warming -> increased forest fires -> increased CO2 –  >  increased warming -> … [77]. The link between global warming and more forest fires has been documented  by expert scientists  for many years (e.g. see [78])” [27].

(14). Coalition-ruled  Australia is among world leaders in 15 areas of effective climate change denialism and climate criminality.

A  climate criminal Australia is among world leaders in 15 areas relating to GHG pollution and hence climate criminality. As confirmed by the results of the recent Australian Federal election (that returned an anti-science, climate criminal Coalition Government) , a rich, greedy and anti-science Australia is mindlessly committed to coal and gas exploitation. Thanks to the homicidal greed of climate criminal countries such as Australia,  the present plus 1.1C temperature rise is already devastating Island Nations, and  a catastrophic plus 2C warming is now effectively unavoidable on present trends. Climate criminal Australia is among world  leaders for the following 15 climate criminal activities or parameters: (1) annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution, (2) live methanogenic livestock exports,  (3) natural gas exports, (4) recoverable shale gas reserves that can be accessed by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), (5) coal exports, (6) land clearing, deforestation and ecocide, (7) speciescide or species extinction], (8) coral reef destruction , (9) whale killing  and extinction threat through global warming impacting on krill stocks , (10) terminal carbon pollution budget exceedance,   (11) per capita Carbon Debt], (12) ultimately GHG generating iron ore exports, (13) climate change inaction, (14) climate genocide and approach towards omnicide and terracide, and (15) increasing Domestic GHG pollution despite Paris commitments to lower GHG pollution (for detailed documentation see [58]).

PM Scott “Scomo” Morrison heads a pro-coal, pro-gas, pro-oil, pro-fossil fuels, anti-science, anti-environment, and right-wing  Coalition Government. (one third climate change deniers and two thirds effective climate change deniers through resolute climate change inaction).   Morrison notoriously held up  a lump of coal in the Australian Parliament, idiotically declaring “This is coal. Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared” [79]. PM Morrison was on holiday overseas as the bushfire tragedy unfolded, as was the Defence Minister and  the New South Wales Emergency Minister . On his return after public outcry, Morrison attended a bushfires press conference at which the fire and police chiefs and the New South Wales premier were grim faced but Scomo grinned throughout. His first major announcement  on his return was that of 2 gas-fired  power stations to be built in Gatton Queensland and Dandenong, Melbourne, Victoria, respectively, with the possibility  of some coal-fired power stations also being built  – utter irresponsibility and ignoring the reality of fossil fuel burning driving global warming, drought and bushfires (see section 13 above). Pro-coal Coalition MPs  got in the act and declared that it was “not the time” to discuss  climate change during the bushfire emergency. However  Greens Leader, Dr Di Natale was not intimidated, declaring: “Yet with Queensland and New South Wales burning, the Coalition government refuses to acknowledge this scientific reality [of climate change driving drought and bushfires] and instead wants to use taxpayer dollars to fund new coal-fired power stations. Every politician, lobbyist, pundit and journalist who has fought to block serious action on climate change bears responsibility for the increasing risk from a heating planet that is producing these deadly bushfires” [79].

The Coalition then politically exploited the bushfires by drafting 3,000 army reservists (a much more expensive option than using the regular  defence forces), and announced financial measures for the bushfires, including $2 billion over 2 years for a National Bushfire  Recovery Agency. However the Coalition then politicized these actions by boasting about them on a  slick social media presentation. A major fire chief was evidently  upset over not having been  consulted.  Retired fire chiefs who had collectively (but unsuccessfully)  sought timely meetings with government to warn of the danger were effectively ignored. Some people involved on the ground in  the bushfire tragedy  refused to shake hands with Morrison. And then a Coalition MP and critic of climate change action  outraged UK media by ignorantly denying any connection between climate change and the Australian bushfires [81].

Final comments.

The Australian bushfires are a nation-wide tragedy involving (as of 10 January 2020). 10,700,000 hectares burned, 28 deaths,  2,204 homes destroyed and massive killing of native animals and livestock. Yet the burning may continue for several more months of Summer and thence into the beginning of Autumn.  While  scientists, including the Australian Climate Council, had been warning of worsening drought and bushfire risk for years, the effective climate change denialist Coalition Government backed by right-wing oligopoly media ignored the science. Under the climate criminal Coalition Australia is among world leaders in 15 areas of climate criminality [58]. Australia with 0.3% of the world’s population is responsible for 4.5% of GHG emissions (Exports included) [62]. Climate criminal Australia’s anti-science profligacy also impacts the whole world through climate change and air pollution deaths. Thus, for example, the Australian Coalition Government  approved a modified  Adani coal mining, coal-for-India  scheme in Queensland but it was estimated that toxic pollutants from burning the coal from the full-blown initial proposal would eventually kill 1.4 million Indians over the life-time of the huge mine  [8].

To reiterate the words of Australian Greens Leader, Dr Di Natale: “Every politician, lobbyist, pundit and journalist who has fought to block serious action on climate change bears responsibility for the increasing risk from a heating planet that is producing these deadly bushfires” [79]. What will  threatened Humanity do around the world ? The world  will eventually lose patience with a climate criminal Australia and take action via Green Tariffs, International  Criminal Court prosecutions, International Court of Justice litigations, and Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Decent Australians will utterly reject the anti-science, climate criminal and Australian-killing Coalition, vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last.



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[2]. “2019-20 Australian bushfire season”, Global Fire Data: .


[3]. Australian Government Department of Energy and the Environment, “Australia’s emissions projections 2019” (Figure 5, page 9) : .


[4]. Graham Redfearn, “Australia’s bushfires have emitted 250 m tonnes of CO2, almost half of country’s annual emissions”, Guardian, 13 December 2019: .


[5]. Mike Foley, “Bushfires spew two-thirds of national carbon emissions in one season”, Sydney Morning Herald,  2 January 2020: .


[6]. H. Keith, B.G. Mackey and D. B. Lindenmayer., “Re-evaluation of forest biomass carbon stocks and lessons from the world’s most carbon-dense forests”, PNAS, 14 July  2009, 106 (28) 11635-11640: .


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[8]. “Stop air pollution deaths”: .

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[10]. Farm Energy, “Biochar: prospects of commercialization”,  Farm Energy Extension, 3 April 2019: .

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[14].  Gaia Vince, “One last chance to save mankind“, New Scientist, 23 January 2009: and  .

[15].  J.A. Harrison, “The carbon cycle “, Vision Learning: .

[16]. Gideon Polya, “Forest biomass-derived Biochar can profitably reduce global warming and bushfire risk”, Yarrra Valley Climate Action group, 2009: .

[17]. Gideon Polya, “ Polya’s 3 Laws Of Economics Expose Deadly, Dishonest  And Terminal Neoliberal Capitalism”, Countercurrents,  17 October 2015: .

[18]. US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide”: .

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[20]. Gideon Polya, “Extrapolating 11,000 scientists’ climate emergency warning to 2030 climate catastrophe”, Countercurrents, 14 November 2019: .

[21]. . .

[22]. “ – return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm CO2”:—return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm .

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[27]. Gideon Polya, “Extrapolating 11,000 scientists’ climate emergency warning to 2030 climate catastrophe”, Countercurrents, 14 November 2019: .

[28]. William J. Ripple et al., 15,364 signatories from 184 countries, “World scientists’ warning to Humanity: a second notice”, Bioscience, 13 November 2017: .

[29]. Gideon Polya, “Over 15,000 scientists issue dire warning to humanity on catastrophic climate change and biodiversity loss”, Countercurrents, 20 November 2017: .

[30]. James Hansen, “Climate change in a nutshell: the gathering storm”, Columbia University, 18 December 2018:  .

[31]. Gideon Polya, “IPCC +1.5C avoidance report – effectively too late,  but stop coal burning for “less bad”  catastrophes’, Countercurrents, 12 October 2018: .


[32]. Andrew Glikson, “Inferno: from climate denial to planetary arson”, Countercurrents, 8 September 2019: .


[33]. Clive Hamilton, “Earth Masters. Playing god With the Climate”, 2013.

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[37]. Professor Stephen Hawking quoted in Will Dunham, “Nuclear, climate perils push Doomsday Clock ahead”, Reuters, 22 January 2007: .

[38]. Stephen Hawking, “Brief Answers to the Big Questions”, John Murray, 2018, Chapter 7.

[39]. “Are we doomed?”: .

[40]. “Methane Bomb Threat”:

[41]. “Too late to avoid global warming catastrophe”: .

[42]. “Climate Genocide”: .

[43]. “Nuclear weapons ban, end poverty and reverse climate change”: .

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[45]. “Climate Justice & Intergenerational Equity”: .

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[49].   Alison Benjamin, “Stern: climate change a “market failure””,  Guardian, 29 November 2009: .

[50]. Pope Francis , Encyclical Letter “Laudato si”, 2015: .

[51]. Gideon Polya, “Green Left Pope Francis Demands Climate Action “Without Delay” To Prevent Climate “Catastrophe””, Countercurrents, 10 August, 2015: .

[52]. Phillip Levin, Donald Levin, “The real biodiversity crisis”, American Scientist, January-February 2002: .

[53].  World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “Living Planet Report 2018 aiming higher – summary”: .

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[55].  Chris Hope, “How high should climate change taxes be?”, Working Paper Series, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, 9.2011: .


[56]. International Monetary Fund (IMF), “Fiscal Monitor: how to mitigate climate change”. Executive Summary”, September  2019: file:///C:/Users/Gideon/AppData/Local/Temp/execsum-6.pdf  .


[57]. Gideon Polya, “Australia rejects IMF Carbon Tax & preventing 4 million pollution deaths by 2030”, Countercurrents, 15 October 2019: .


[58]. Gideon Polya, “War criminal & climate criminal Australian deception at UN General Assembly”, Countercurrents, 29 September 2019: .

[59]. Paul Karp, “Josh Frydenberg rejects IMF report that Australia will fail to meet Paris target”, Guardian, 11 October 2019: .

[60]. Josh Frydenberg,” Interview with Sabra Lane, AM, ABC Melbourne”, Josh Frydenberg, 11 October 2019: .

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[62]. Gideon Polya, “Revised Annual Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Pollution For All Countries – What Is Your Country Doing?”, Countercurrents, 6 January, 2016: .


[63]. Gideon Polya, “Exposing And Thence Punishing Worst Polluter Nations Via Weighted Annual Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Pollution Scores”, Countercurrents, 19 March, 2016: .


[64]. Gideon Polya, “Australia shocked by cricket ball tampering but ignores horrendous Australian crimes from child abuse to genocide”, Countercurrents, 24 April 2018: .


[65]. Gideon Polya, “Annual per capita greenhouse gas emissions by  country (2013)”, Gideon Polya: .


[66]. “Economy of Australia”, Wikipedia: .

[67]. Gideon Polya, “Horrendous Cost For Australia Of US War On Terror”,  Countercurrents, 14 October, 2012: .

[68]. Gideon Polya, “ Australian state terrorism (4). Jingoistic, US Lackey Australia’s Deadly Betrayal Of Its Traumatized Veterans”, Stop state terrorism, 2018: .

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[70]. “Stop state terrorism”: .

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[72]. Sarah Jane Bell, “Farmers impacted by bushfires count “heartbreaking” cost as livestock losses climb”, ABC News, 7 January 2020: .


[73]. Australian Bureau of Statistics, “Livestock”:[email protected]/Latestproducts/7121.0Main%20Features612017-18?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=7121.0&issue=2017-18&num=&view= .


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[81]. Sarah Martin, Craig Kelly interview: senior government MPs distance themselves after Piers Morgan lashing “”, Guardian, 7 January 2020: .

Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007:   ) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see:  ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others:  ;  Gideon Polya:  ; Gideon Polya Writing: ; Gideon Polya, Wikipedia: ) . When words fail one can say it in pictures – for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: and  .




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