Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bushfires...the bad news just keeps coming lah!

Bushfires 'to burn up climate.... AUSTRALIA is sitting on a time bomb when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions: bushfires.

Researchers said bushfires can release as much carbon pollution as the whole of industry combined.

While bushfires are not officially counted towards Australia's emissions, researchers said they will be in the future and it could cost billions.

The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre says the problem will snowball because climate change will cause more bushfires, which will release more carbon pollution, which makes climate change worse.

"Bushfires pose an enormous threat to Australia's carbon balance," said Mark Adams, a centre researcher who is based at the University of Sydney.

"In a bad fire year ... the scale of emissions from forest fires in southern Australia was of the same order as industrial emissions."

A bad fire could release 30 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

"That is far far more than we're ever going to be able to sequester from planting trees or promoting carbon capture," he said, in reference to burying emissions from coal-fired power stations underground.

Authorities should actively manage forests into the future to minimise the threat of bushfires, Prof Adams said.

Burn-offs had to be used to reduce fuel loads and the intensity of fires.

He predicted the international community would include emissions from forests in a post-Kyoto climate pact, which could be signed as early as this year.

"Not to do so is to ignore one of the biggest threats to the global atmospheric pool of CO2," he said.

The centre also has warned that many householders and communities are not ready for a bushfire, and current management practices won't work into the future.

More people are moving to fire-prone areas on urban fringes but don't realise the risks, the centre said.

And more fires are on the way as southern Australia becomes hotter and drier because of climate change.

Adelaide swelters through record night

A few hornbags just to show how hot things are really getting!

January 29, 2009, 9:44 am

Adelaide has sweltered through its hottest night on record with the temperature only dipping to 33.9 degrees.

After a top temperature on Wednesday of 45.7c, the weather bureau said the overnight minimum came just after midnight (CDT).

The previous record was the 33.5c recorded on January 1, 1982.

By 5am the mercury had climbed back to 37c, on the way to a forecast top for Thursday of 44.

It will be Adelaide's third day in a row above 40c, with the city expected to have three more before the temperature dips into the high 30s.

That will be the longest run of consecutive days above 40c for more than 100 years.

Emergency services remained on high alert with a number of fires sparked by the conditions over the past 24 hours.

Public transport services were also thrown into chaos with the heat buckling both tram and train lines.

A number of blown transformers across the city has also cut power to some residents.

With the hot conditions persisting, SA Unions on Thursday urged employers to be flexible and to allow workers respite, particularly those without air-conditioning.

State secretary Janet Giles said it also made commonsense that there should be no outdoor work in such conditions.

"On days like these, the construction industry practically closes down, and for good reason," she said.

"Really good employers understand the toll that the heat can take and should even allow workers the flexibility to collect their children from school or tend to the needs of elderly relatives."