The fires of Peregian were fierce and hard to contain.
The fires of Peregian were fierce and hard to contain.

Fiercer fires like Peregian are ‘spawned by climate change’

IT S fire and not rising water that is creating the biggest threat to Noosa, according to Mayor Tony Wellington.

After just having seen his community survive two fire emergencies inside a month, the civic leader is supporting University of the Sunshine Coast claims that aggressive bushfires linked to climate change have been expected by scientists.

USC researchers maintain drier than normal conditions are causing an earlier and more intense bushfire season.

Dr Kate English said. "They're stronger, they're hotter and they move faster."

She said these climate conditions and worsening bushfires are not unexpected. "We have known this is going to happen."

By declaring a climate emergency Noosa Shire Council in Queensland joins more than 1000 government jurisdictions around the world acting on climate change.

Cr Wellington said sea level rise was council's most pressing concern related to climate change, "but rather changes to our climate increasing severe weather events like bushfires".

"These are being felt now, long before sea level rise becomes a serious issue.

"The recent unseasonal fires in Peregian come on the back of last year's first ever catastrophic fire conditions in Queensland.

"The pattern of increasingly frequent and intense heatwave events across Australia has been well documented by the Bureau of Meteorology."

Mayor Wellington said there will always be climate change deniers, just as there are conspiracy theorists about everything, but Australian research shows that the majority of Australians believe that human-induced climate change is real and that they want to see action being taken.

"A majority of Noosa residents and business owners are going to be supportive of council's approach to this issue. But one thing you quickly learn in politics is that you can never please everyone."

Environmental engineer Laura Trotta said these steps taken by this council and others are positive.

"Many councils and local communities are not waiting for national and international climate policy to catch up, and are doing what they can, now. They're putting plans in place to prepare their local communities for future climate change and helping them adjust to changes that are already happening."

Ms Trotta said that councils worldwide like Noosa are recognising that it is an emergency and they are acting accordingly.

"Some may feel that declaring a climate emergency is alarmist, and indeed it may get a few people offside, but scientists overwhelming report that global temperature increases of above 2 degrees Celcius could lead to a catastrophic system collapse.

"There will be a bit of back lash from people who have not caught up with the science, but change is happening regardless and the sooner we prepare for the consequences of the change such as designating bushfire, storm and flooding emergency refuges and developing heat wave procedures, the sooner communities can adapt."

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Cyclone and Severe Weather Outlook for 2019-2020 also predicts a longer and more severe bushfire season ahead.

Head of BOM long-range forecasts Dr Andrew Watkins said in a media release that the current state of Australia's climate drivers meant the likelihood of seeing more bushfire activity than normal was increased.

"The Bureau outlook shows we're likely to see more warmer and drier than average conditions for the coming months," Dr Watkins said.

"The increased odds of warmer than average days, coupled with a very dry landscape and a likely late start to the northern wet season, give a clear indication that we're likely to see more heatwaves than normal. It also adds to the potential bushfire risk."


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