Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Reducing Fire, and Cutting Carbon Emissions, the Aboriginal Way

The article from the NYT below gives a good sense of Aboriginal burning practices but does not give enough emphasis to the fact that Aboriginal burning practices -- very frequent small fires -- would not be tolerated for a moment in most of Australia.  They would rightly be seen as dangerous.

The Aborigines described below can get away with it for two main reasons:

1).  They live in Kakadu national park, which is only very lightly populated -- so they have few neighbours to bother them with criticisms

2).  The NT has predicable monsoons, which enables safer detection of risky/non-risky times to burn.  Rainfall in the rest of Australia is much less predictable, if it is predictable at all. So choosing safe times to burn is very approximate. 

Adequate burns can only be done safely in most of Australia if plans for burning cover many areas -- so that a burn can start somewhere as soon as there is a good day for it.  Burns have to exploit ALL good burning days

COOINDA, NT. — At a time when vast tracts of Australia are burning, Violet Lawson is never far from a match.

In the woodlands surrounding her home in the far north of the country, she lights hundreds of small fires a year — literally fighting fire with fire. These traditional Aboriginal practices, which reduce the undergrowth that can fuel bigger blazes, are attracting new attention as Australia endures disaster and confronts a fiery future.

Over the past decade, fire-prevention programs, mainly on Aboriginal lands in northern Australia, have cut destructive wildfires in half. While the efforts draw on ancient ways, they also have a thoroughly modern benefit: Organizations that practice defensive burning have earned $80 million under the country’s cap-and-trade system as they have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions from wildfires in the north by 40 percent.

These programs, which are generating important scientific data, are being held up as a model that could be adapted to save lives and homes in other regions of Australia, as well as fire-prone parts of the world as different as California and Botswana.

“Fire is our main tool,” Ms. Lawson said as she inspected a freshly burned patch where grasses had become ash but the trees around them were undamaged. “It’s part of protecting the land.”

The fire-prevention programs, which were first given government licenses in 2013, now cover an area three times the size of Portugal. Even as towns in the south burned in recent months and smoke haze blanketed Sydney and Melbourne, wildfires in northern Australia were much less severe.

“The Australian government is now starting to see the benefits of having Indigenous people look after their lands,” said Joe Morrison, one of the pioneers of the project. “Aboriginal people who have been through very difficult times are seeing their language, customs and traditional knowledge being reinvigorated and celebrated using Western science.”

In some ways, the Aboriginal methods resemble Western ones practiced around the world: One of the main goals is to reduce underbrush and other fuel that accelerates hot, damaging fires.

But the ancient approach tends to be more comprehensive. Indigenous people, using precisely timed, low-intensity fires, burn their properties the way a suburban homeowner might use a lawn mower.

Aboriginal practices have been so successful in part because of a greater cultural tolerance of fire and the smoke it generates. The country’s thinly populated north, where Aboriginal influence and traditions are much stronger than in the south, is not as hamstrung by political debates and residents’ concerns about the health effects of smoke.

The landscape and climate of northern Australia also make it more amenable to preventive burning. The wide open spaces, and the distinctive seasons — a hot dry season is followed by monsoon rains — make burning more predictable.

Yet despite these regional differences, those who have studied the Aboriginal techniques say they could be adapted in the more populated parts of the country.

“We most certainly should learn to burn Aboriginal-style,” said Bill Gammage, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. “Our firefighters have quite good skills in fighting fires. But for preventing them, they are well short of what Aboriginal people could do.”

Last week, Victor Cooper, a former forest ranger in northern Australia, lit a wad of shaggy bark to demonstrate the type of fire that burns at temperatures low enough to avoid damage to sensitive plants that are crucial food for animals.

The preventive fires, he said, should trickle, not rage. They must be timed according to air temperature, wind conditions and humidity, as well as the life cycles of plants. Northern Aboriginal traditions revolve around the monsoon, with land burned patch by patch as the wet season gives way to the dry.

“We don’t have a fear of fire,” said Mr. Cooper, who burns regularly around his stilt house nestled in woodlands. “We know the earlier we burn, the more protection we have.”

This year, he will become certified to join the carbon credits program. Money earned through that system has incentivized stewardship of the land and provided hundreds of jobs in Aboriginal communities, where unemployment rates are high. The funds have also financed the building of schools in underserved areas.

NASA satellite data is used to quantify the reduction in carbon emissions and do computer modeling to track fires. Modern technology also supplements the defensive burning itself: Helicopters drop thousands of incendiary devices the size of Ping-Pong balls over huge patches of territory at times of the year when the land is still damp and fires are unlikely to rage out of control.

Those taking part in the program say they are frustrated that other parts of the country have been reluctant to embrace the same types of preventive burning. The inaction is longstanding: A major federal inquiry after deadly fires more than a decade ago recommended wider adoption of Aboriginal methods.

“I have many friends in other parts of Australia who can’t get their heads around that fire is a useful tool, that not all fire is the same and that you can manage it,” said Andrew Edwards, a fire expert at Charles Darwin University in northern Australia. “It’s hard to get across to people that fire is not a bad thing.”

Nine years ago, Mr. Gammage published a book that changed the way many in Australia thought about the Australian countryside and how it has been managed since the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century.

The book, “The Biggest Estate on Earth,” uses documents from the earliest settlers and explorers to show how the landscape had been systematically shaped by Aboriginal fire techniques.

Many forests were thinner than those that exist now and were more resistant to hot-burning fires. Early explorers described the landscape as a series of gardens, and they reported seeing near constant trails of smoke from small fires across the landscape.

As Europeans took control of the country, they banned burning. Jeremy Russell-Smith, a bushfire expert at Charles Darwin University, said this quashing of traditional fire techniques happened not only in Australia, but also in North and South America, Asia and Africa.

“The European mind-set was to be totally scared of fire,” Mr. Russell-Smith said.

As the fires rage in the south, Aboriginal people in northern Australia say they are deeply saddened at the loss of life — about 25 people have been killed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed. But they also express bewilderment that forests were allowed to grow to become so combustible.

Margaret Rawlinson, the daughter of Ms. Lawson, who does preventive burning on her property in the far north, remembers traveling a decade ago to the countryside south of Sydney and being alarmed at fields of long, desiccated grass.

“I was terrified,” Ms. Rawlinson said. “I couldn’t sleep. I said, ‘We need to go home. This place is going to go up, and it’s going to be a catastrophe.’”

The area that she visited, around the town of Nowra, has been a focal point for fires over the past few weeks.

The pioneering defensive burning programs in northern Australia came together in the 1980s and ’90s when Aboriginal groups moved back onto their native lands after having lived in settlements under the encouragement, or in some cases the order, of the government.

Depopulated for decades, the land had suffered. Huge fires were decimating species and damaging rock paintings.

“The land was out of control,” said Dean Yibarbuk, a park ranger whose Indigenous elders encouraged him to seek solutions.

The Aboriginal groups ultimately teamed up with scientists, the government of the Northern Territory and the Houston-based oil company ConocoPhillips, which was building a natural gas facility and was required to find a project that would offset its carbon emissions.

According to calculations by Mr. Edwards, wildfires in northern Australia burned 57 percent fewer acres last year than they did on average in the years from 2000 to 2010, the decade before the program started.

Mr. Yibarbuk, who is now chairman of Warddeken Land Management, one of the largest of the participating organizations, employs 150 Aboriginal rangers, part time and full time.

“We are very lucky in the north to be able to keep our traditional practices,” Mr. Yibarbuk said. “There’s a pride in going back to the country, managing it and making a difference.”


Bruce Pascoe scandal: Yolngu now denounce this 'aboriginal historian', too

Now the Yolngu of Arnhem Land join other Aboriginal groups in denouncing "Aboriginal historian" Bruce Pascoe and his fake history that Aborigines were settled farmers, living in "towns" of "1000 people" with "animal pens. Elder Terry Yumbulul writes:

There are no ancient creation stories in our heritage about Aboriginal settlements and there is no evidence of it in our art, languages or songlines. It would have been impossible for my people to have built wells, silos, houses and yards to pen animals, as Pascoe promotes. Australian indigenous animals are not capable of supporting human settlements and my people had no need to settle in one place because we were content living in harmony with nature and travelling by foot from sacred place to sacred place.

Our people also find it insulting so many prominent Aboriginal leaders have supported Pascoe and his theories. Among them is the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, the Minister for Indigenous Australians who has said he could ask for the resignation of members of his advisory council and continued, 'the Pascoe debate is led by one of our own, which is a pity because it's being played out publicly. It is something that we should deal with within communities.'

Other Aboriginal leaders also support Pascoe's attempt to change our valued Aboriginal culture and histories. Professor Marcia Langton AO said Dark Emu, 'is the most important book on Australia and should be read by every Australian', at the same time she insults Yolnga men and women and other Aboriginal nations. During a recent interview on NTV, Professor Langton reiterated Pascoe's Aboriginal ancestry had been settled years ago and she reaffirmed the credibility of Dark Emu. Many employees of the Indigenous units at our national broadcaster the ABC, SBS and NTV have also supported Pascoe publicly. All of these people should know better.

We are also mystified and hurt by the fact the Commonwealth government appears not to be concerned about Young Dark Emu being distributed to pre school and primary school children. The government also appears unperturbed about Pascoe's promotion of the theory Aboriginal people lived in settlements and practiced Aboriginal agriculture. We are also upset the government does not appear to care about the Pascoe claims and/or acknowledge the fact his claims could affect Aboriginal people and/or cause concerns about our ancient cultures, our ancient traditions, our precious stories, our beliefs and our children.

Our people have asked us to call for an investigation into Bruce Pascoe, his claim to Aboriginal ancestry and the financial benefits he and his businesses have derived from claiming Aboriginal ancestry he has been unable to verify.

The Yolgnu now join Victoria's Boonwurrung Land & Sea Council, the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania and members of the Yuin tribe of NSW in denying Pascoe's claims to be Aboriginal, descended from Boonwurrung, Tasmanian and Yuin tribes. They also deny his claims (promoted by the ABC) that Aborigines were farmers, and not hunter-gatherers.

They are also protesting the ultimate colonisation - where whites now assume Aboriginal identity for themselves, rewrite Aboriginal history and deny Aborigines even the right to determine who is in their tribe.

The Left is cleansing tradition Aboriginal culture and tribes from the records. All this is cheered on by the ABC, the national broadcaster.


Facts blurred in climate coverage

Sobriety and perspective were once two of the valued qualities of serious media who considered themselves above the exaggeration and inflammation — commonly referred to as beat-ups — that they view as the domain of the tabloid or shock media.

Climate change has flipped that around. Nowadays media that would assign themselves the “quality” label while rejecting the accurate “green-left” tag are all about hysteria and twisting facts. Let me start with CNN, whose reporter Will Ripley spent a week or so in Australia reporting mainly on bushfires and weather, including a climate protest.

“They (the protesters) say the planet is dying,” Ripley reported. “And Australia is right on the frontline of this climate crisis: you have the unprecedented bushfires, you have the Great Barrier Reef drying up because of the ozone levels in the atmosphere.”

Oh, dear. Fact-checking goes missing when pushing the alarmist perspective. Only sceptical views tend to be treated with any, well, scepticism, by most media.

The word “unprecedented” has been invoked time and again in order to pretend terrifying events, the likes of which have scarred this nation forever, were something brought newly upon us by climate change.

Early in the season NSW had more emergency level fires on one day than ever before (due to arson, natural events and weather conditions), and on two other days the Sydney area recorded its worst fire conditions, and it has been the worst bushfire season in that state. But it is wrong to claim this is the worst season by any measure for any other state or the nation as a whole.

We could fill pages with such hype. Given the essential facts have been so drastic it seems implausible that anyone would want to embellish the story — but the sensationalism has been, well, perhaps unprecedented.

US ABC news headed a story “Wildfire Apocalypse” and chief meteorologist Ginger Zee said “unprecedented” fires were “consuming” Australia.

Maps on US and UK media had flames all over our continent; we were ablaze coast to coast.

At the BBC, TV host Ros Atkins bought into the sensationalism and Twitter-level political debate full-on: quoting people like Lara (Bingle) Worthington on social media, describing us as the “hottest place in the world” (as, of course, we often are in summer) and showing pictures of Scott Morrison holding a lump of coal.

Atkins along with most journalists in Australia adopted the word “megablaze” or “megafire” to describe the main Blue Mountains fire. This is of a piece with the climate change-induced language tweaks to make weather events sound different to all that preceded them. Storms are now “storm events” and heatwaves “extreme heat events” and so it goes. (The concocted word “megafire” even passed my lips as I read a breaking news update scripted elsewhere and presented live on air.)

But worse than the beat-ups has been the politicisation. Green-left politicians and climate protesters, led by former NSW fire commissioner and global warming activist Greg Mullins, were sowing the seeds before the fire season even began and have used every blaze and even every death to push their policies.

The basis of their concern is not seriously disputed in public debate: that global warming will make bad fire conditions more common in many parts of Australia. But the thrust of their arguments, amplified by compliant media, is based on untruths: claims this fire season is our worst, accusations our government is not acting on climate, inferences our policies can alter global climate and, perhaps worst of all, implicit and false promises that climate policies can ameliorate the annual threat of bushfires.

To avoid sensible arguments about historical context, policy options and global impacts, the green-left media deliberately creates a false dichotomy.

They characterise the argument in Australia as one between climate change reality and climate change denial.

This jaundiced falsification is social media click-bait. On the BBC Atkins used some of my commentary to this end, running a clip of me saying the activists and politicians were using bushfires to advocate policies that “can and will do nothing ever to prevent horror bushfire conditions” in Australia.

Instead of making an argument against this incontestable statement — perhaps by trying to explain how Australia’s policies can change a climate that has produced bushfires for millennia — Atkins falsely insinuated I didn’t accept the science and gave us the intellectually lazy climate science versus denial and inaction case.

He then falsely suggested Australia was not involved in global efforts to lower emissions. This is the inane “white hats versus black hats” level at which media conduct this complex debate.

In another segment Atkins asked London-based Sydney Morning Herald journalist Latika Bourke whether it was “fair to say the very existence of climate change is still an active debate in Australia?”

“Yes,” replied Bourke, “it’s been a very ferocious debate in Australia for about the last decade.” She claimed this debate has split the two major parties; one side accepting science and backing emissions reduction, and the other arguing “climate change, if it is happening at all, is not the fault of human activity”.

This is a mischaracterisation of our political debate where the choice at the last election was between a Coalition promising to meet our Paris climate agreement targets of 26-28 per cent by 2030 and a Labor opposition promising to increase that target to 45 per cent. Neither the science nor the need for multilateral action are in dispute between our major parties, but rather the targets and methods of achieving them.

Bourke then went on to say there was no resolution to the debate, “except what we’re seeing this summer and that is a catastrophic weather event.” Atkins aired another interview with Bourke in which she said: “Australia’s well used to bushfires but this extremity, this intensity, this degree, Australia has not seen before.” Plain wrong.

She went on to say, perhaps second-guessing her own hyperbole: “And these are the worst in living memory.” But, again, this is just wrong. It is only 11 years since the fierce firestorms of Black Saturday in Victoria where hotter temperatures and stronger winds saw 173 lives and thousands of properties lost and, of course, anyone involved in 1983’s Ash Wednesday will not have forgotten those hellish conditions or their toll. If we study the historical reports we know maelstroms descended in 1967, 1939, 1851 and many other times in between.

It is unpleasant to do these comparisons between horrible events. But it is sadly necessary to counter a loose conspiracy of misinformation designed to convince everyone that we have created something new, something more horrible than anyone else has experienced before.

It is of a piece with official edicts by news organisations such as The Guardian to inflame climate coverage by talking of “crisis” and “emergency” instead of climate change. It smacks of fake news generated to pursue green- left political goals. And it is as much of a worry as the climate.


Locals vent their fury as Australian flag is removed from a rural town on January 26 and replaced with an Aboriginal one instead

The Australian flag stands for ALL Australians. There is no warrant for the flag of a small minority to supplant it.

The Australian flag was omitted from Woolgoolga's community flagpole Sunday

A New South Wales town has been accused of being 'unAustralian' after officials omitted the Australian flag from display, flying an Aboriginal one in its place.

Residents of Woolgoolga, in the Mid North Coast, were left outraged on Sunday after they awoke to find the Australian flag was missing from the community flagpole.

Instead, the Indigenous flag had been flying high alongside the Southern Cross flag and three others below it, outside the city's Chamber of Commerce.

Although the flags on the pole are known to change regularly, many locals were particularly miffed officials would omit the Australian flag on the country's national day.

A number of residents took to social media to share their disappointment, while some even contacted their local radio station to complain.

One resident sparked on debate on Facebook after he claimed the move breached the 'ethics of our constitution.'

'This is Australia Day and all other flags must fly under the Australian flag,' he wrote, generating dozens of responses.

'Stupid people forgetting the real reason for Australia Day,' one man commented.

'This is disgusting, very un-Australian you should be ashamed of yourself,' another local said.

One man said he believed the move had been intentional to spark a debate. 'Too many people are deliberately trying to provoke division just so they can then argue that Australia Day is too divisive. This sort of stunt is going to do nothing for unity, and everything to incite extreme prejudices,' he said.

'It's Australia Day and it would be really nice if the Australian flag was the only one flying today...because it is about our country as a whole not divisions of it,' one woman argued.   

The Chamber said the idea to fly the Aboriginal flag this year came from a 'member of the community' who regularly looks after the flagpole, and flying the Australian flag under the Aboriginal flag would have violated protocol.  

'Protocol says that if another flag is at the top, the Australian flag cannot be flown. He has included an assortment of flags flying with it including TSI, the Southern Cross and Ruok flag', Lisa Nichols told Triple M.

Ms Nichols said the Australian flag was on display at the town's visitors information centre.


Female cop quota under investigation

Standards watered down to recruit more women?

AN investigation into alleged female recruiting "irregularities" in the Queensland Police Service is under way, in a bombshell for the organisation which strived for gender equality.

The Courier-Mail has been told physical standards and psychological assessment aspects of the recruiting process are under investigation after the claims. The allegations are under-stood to relate to a period between 2016 and 2018, after the service introduced a 50-50 gender recruitment target.

The Crime and Corruption Commission and QPS are 'investigating the allegations.

To get into the service recruits undergo physical tests, psychological and medical assessments, pass cognitive and reasoning ability assessments and are interviewed by a panel of officers.

Among the physical standards required to enter the service, the QPS has a beep test with minimum entry and exit levels at the academy. When asked if irregularities had been discovered with the female recruiting process, a QPS spokesman confirmed a review into recruiting processes took place last year. "As a result, allegations of irregularities associated with some past police recruiting processes were identified," the spokesman said.

"These allegations are now subject to investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission and QPS Ethical Standards Command "In the meantime, the QPS has put mechanisms in place to ensure confidence in more recent and ongoing recruiting processes."

In 2016, then-commissioner Ian Stewart told HR Sections of QPS to aim for a 50-50 recruitment target. At the start of 2017, the ratio of officers and recruits in the QPS was about 265-735. In September, 2017, Mr Stewart said it was becoming difficult to reach the 50-50 recruitment goal but ordered standards not be lowered. "We are not moving any standards. We know that we have large numbers Of female recruits that do meet that standard, so what we're trying to do is encourage more women to come in the front end so we have a larger pool," he said at the time.

Between the 2016-17 and 2019-20 financial years, 558 women and 653 men have been sworn in. Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the union had always insisted. on "clear, transparent, and merit-based recruit selection". "The best.people for the job. should always be chosen rather than people being chosen because Of quotas," he said. "As long as all recruits selected on merit meet the minimum standard and competency, a person's gender is irrelevant"

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 18 January, 2020

 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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