Fact check: do bushfires emit more carbon than burning coal?

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by matto, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    “Indeed I guess there’ll be more CO2 emissions from these fires than there will be from coal-fired power stations for decades.” – acting Opposition leader, Warren Truss, January 9, 2013
    On Wednesday, leader of the National Party and acting Opposition Leader, Warren Truss claimed carbon emissions from the current bushfires are equivalent to decades of carbon emissions from coal-fired power.

    The current bushfires are so large that the statement by Warren Truss seems plausible.

    This spurred me to do some research to find out.

    Coal-fired power stations in Australia emit around 200 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This does not include emissions from our coal exports.
    Around 30 tonnes of CO2 per forested hectare were emitted by the Black Saturday Fires in 2009.

    Bushfires this year have so far burned around 130,000ha of forest, so have emitted nearly 4 million tonnes of CO2.

    So, the bushfires this year have emitted an amount of CO2 equivalent to 2% of Australia’s annual emissions from coal-fired power.

    The current bushfires must burn an area of forest greater than Tasmania to generate CO2 emissions equivalent to a year of burning coal for electricity.

    And the current bushfires must burn an area of forest the size of New South Wales to generate CO2 emissions equivalent to a decade of burning coal for electricity.

    However, the carbon emitted from bushfires is not permanent. Eucalypt forest regenerates after fire, and will quickly begin to sequester from the atmosphere the carbon that has been lost from the current bushfires.

    The same cannot be said of coal-fired power stations.

    Warren Truss’ statement reflects a view that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are insignificant relative to natural events such as bushfires that have occurred for millennia in Australia.

    However, when one drills into the data, the current bushfires provide a stark illustration of the opposite: the amount of carbon that is emitted by bushfires is insignificant relative to our principle sources of greenhouse gas emissions such as coal-fired power.

    https://theconversation.edu.au/fact-check-do-bushfires-emit-more-carbon-than-burning-coal-11543
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    can't figure why the red herring comparrison???

    the bush fires are a tragedy mostly caused by the excesses of man destroying habitat.

    coal fired power stations provide the common people with affordable power, we can't really have permanent bush fires to generate power so the co2 plus many other gasses in fires is additional to co2 pollution, bush fires are a dangerous interlude.

    now lets shut down all coal generation, all polluting industry and of course coal mining, stop all vehicles and anything else that uses fossil fuel and in 50 years teh climate situation will not have changed so the tax is simply a burden on the less fortunate.

    len
     
  3. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Len do you have any facts for your red herring comparison or just making it up as you go along like Warren Truss???
     
  4. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    because the comparison has no bearing whatsoever on creating a fix of any kind, that is preventing the heat from the desert causing those horrendous fires you have down south, i am not aligning myself with any politician or party they are all rogues.

    len
     
  5. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Neither did yours

    Im pretty sure the thread was just a rebuttal to a stupid statement deliberately designed to spread lies by a politician with a denial agenda.
    Seems like the same motivation for your statement.
     
  6. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    This'll probably derail the direction of this conversation but - I was wondering to myself the other day - in the days before white folk arrived in this country how did fires start? Apart from 1. lightning strikes 2. escaped cooking fires or 3. those deliberately lit. Does dry forest actually spontaneously ignite or is there always a trigger?

    If there is always a trigger then our modern lifestyle must surely be largely responsible for starting many of these fires - even taking the loony arsonists out of the equation. Electrical shorts, hot exhaust pipes, glass bottles left discarded that focus light to a pin point and so on are all (theoretically) preventable.
     
  7. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Politicians have NO idea. No connection with the Earth, no concept of nature, no concept of humans as individuals. They are basically bubble-boys that live in a world of 'information' most of which is actually just opinion and made up. I have worked for the Australian Government and I always equate it to a very highly paid work-for-the-dole scheme. In Canberra many of them are 2nd and 3rd generation 'welfare recipients'.

    This is the place that science meets politics and the science, whilst given lip-service, is usually used or ignored in a way that allows a 'policy' to be pushed forward.

    It's obscene.
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day eco

    Across Northern Australia, by far the majority of wildfires are started by lighting. For example, checkout NASA's Black Marble and zoom in to Australia. The majority of light being emitted in the Centre and the West is from wildfires.

    Fire has always played a very important role in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The study of which remains controversial (in the sense that some support the 'firestick farming hypothesis', while others do not). For more on this topic, see:

    Gammage (2011) The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia

    Horton (2009) Fire

    Bird et al (2008) The "fire stick farming" hypothesis: Australian Aboriginal foraging strategies, biodiversity, and anthropogenic fire mosaics

    On the subject of ignition, it is suggested that approximately half of all the 'vegetation' fires in Australia (around 25,000 per year) are 'deliberately' lit:

    Muller (2009) Using crime prevention to reduce deliberate bushfires in Australia

    It would seem very few fires are 'accidentally' lit. For an overall view, see:

    Geoscience Australia (2012) What Causes Bushfire?

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  9. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    The rapid regeneration and 're-sequestering' of the carbon by a new forest is the most important point. Coal-fire plants don't recover what they burn.
     
  10. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    so if we replanted habitat in the vicinity of power stations etc.,. they would naturally then sequester in that extra co2 as they aren't alive doing it now, up here our power plants are in the middle of cleared cattle grazing areas. the only trees they have are their landscaped gardens, a drop in the bucket of missing habitat.

    back in the time when only aboriginals were here they apparently started fires to make food gathering easier, and like across the globe lightening strikes are quiet often the blame.

    fires also burn out the smaller and soft type trees that is why aussie forest are eucalypts and acacia's etc. a tree at 3 meters high cannot be guaranteed to survive a grass fire let alone what is happening down south.

    len
     
  11. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Len: You don't actually think the tree will suck carbon out of smoke in their vicinity, like some sort of sponge?

    We should plant trees, and we should leave all carbon (oil) in the ground, where millions of years got it to. But, if you are a creationist, you couldn't believe that.
     
  12. No idea

    No idea Junior Member

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    All politicians have NO idea and no concept of humans as individuals? That's exceedingly harsh Grahame, even for someone who has worked with pollies. It also paints a very bleak picture for us as like it or not they run the country. I'd like to think that some of them at least are human.
     
  13. Curramore1

    Curramore1 Junior Member

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    Politicians are voted in by the people who choose to vote. They stay in power because they are the lesser evil in the next election or they are genuinely earth shakers who have not yet been party dissillusioned or threatened by extremist interests and been totally scarred by the experience. The alternative is that they are just too well supported and/or thick skinned. The party winner may not be well educated or well informed, but they know how to manage a party machine to win. They know that they have a fixed term and thus make promises prior to election to woo voters. Blah Blah!
    The challenge in Australia or as youtube in extremis and racially desciminatorally warrants "Straya", is to revisit past methods of pursasion- good entertaining prose in a modern format, "Horrible Histories style" or Sam Whatever his name is... Lamb industry style hijacking. It is still really astounding to me that we are not totally solar electricity powered as a nation and that we still burn or sell coal at all. As a teenager of the 70's I remember that petrol above 22 cents per litre was a nightmare and since then have been resigned to the fact that growth is god, energy consumption per capita was to follow the US, with the cheap, throw-away module mentality with government cashing in to afford a way top heavy public service and a welfare society not sustainable in a low local population growth, high immigration, low manufacturing and *uck any form of agriculture, ageing population demographic society. Mining is the newest messiah and food can be imported from countries far less scrupulous in fiscal fair play , food safety and human welfare than our own primadonna nation. The majority of the Austalian general public couldn't give a flying intercourse where their food comes from or how clean or fresh it is , but is it cheap and affordable, will they still afford the weekly rum bottle and the carton of ciggies? The members of this forum who care about their food, their environment and the world around them are a minority compared to the general uncaring populace who are the grasshoppers in the fairy tale living an endless summer.
    The general populace could not give a fat rat's posterior whether there is more emission of Carbon from a bushfire or a coal burning power station. They care about cheaper electricity.
    If all the currency invested in the relatively short term CSG industry was to be directed to sustainable energy our nation would be energy safe for ever. We are tied to selling coal to make trade dollars and keep job numbers happening. If we shut down every coal mine today and reflected on the true sustainable needs, not greeds of our country and focussed on the truly, long term sustainable products of this nation we would be a better place. Macropod numbers are in plague proportions throughout the land, are we an informed and aligned enough nation to realize the resource that is truly sustainable? No, I think not because emotions have replaced reality in our mollycoddled super-urbanised, welfare reliant nation. Let us all rejoice to the endless supply of cheap, flavourless prawns, imported, preserved fruit juices, pork and bacon, stonefruits and soon all other fresh fruit, veges and meat. When the nation regrets this move and wants a tomato with flavour or a meat with a lower cadmium level or a fresh egg, it will be too late to lament as it will not come again because the family farmer will not rise again after the floggings year after year since the 1960's until the present. Sell the land to the chinese or Russian investor to grow food to sell to us in a fair trade agreement. Better still create another over 50's style village with an attached retirement home with an attached nursing home with an attached palliative care home, next to a funeral parlour incorporating a crematorium and cemetary. Could we dare include a composting area? (Toungue firmly in cheek). Here's to a more truly Australian 2013, increase locovorianism, decrease food and energy miles, refocus the nation back to our people, places and living a good life and less towards the having and acquiring of things we want but don't really need and be a nation, not just a suburb of China, the US or whatever nation wants to do us over.
    Forget coal mining, plant and harvest trees, grass, algae and anything else which sequesters carbon and get on with it in 2013 and make it a normal, fiscallly positive way to use our land. 99% of grass fed animal industries would transfer at the drop of a hat if it were financially better in both the immediate and in the future. Lets get real now about carbon in this nation and put the money where it will work now. Far too much reality for a Polly or the average public servant to agree with, or am I grossly underestimating both ?
     
  14. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    SOp,

    no i don't think that as well you may know that statement of illusion was made by another. the sparse trees in the fires are being burnt so their days of helping the climate stop for now, and when they do grow back needed rain of course they can only do as little as they did before, that is provide some little shade, look photogenic, and not help the water table as there is not enough of them on the higher ground. and those people, bless their hearts who follow the romance of "give me a home among the gum trees", a wooden home at that, i fear for each of the summers where heat from the centre impacts areas particularly to the south where decimation of barrier mulga and mallee has occurred and anhilation of those wonderful stand in tassie all for mulching, what a terrible waste, with a dangerous legacy.

    no! i suggest lets rehabilitate the habitat full on lets weed out windmills that will do little but look ugly, lets call a halt to land clearing for any purpose at all, lets bring our farmers closer to where we live so we can afford to buy fresh food closer to home and cut out the middle man and pay the farmer a decent price, think about it. stop blaming the poor and needy who only buy what they really need for this terrible treeless climate, yes blame the corrupt pollies and their wealth chasing friends, not only blame them make them repair what they have done for their sake not ours.

    no such thing as a successful honest polly they are all driven by lust and if they don't play by the rules then they won't make it to that pot of gold they rip off from the constituents, it is not people needing welfare who are the blame it is the pollies and tax dodging manipulators who are the real blame. we are a means to an end for the above mentioned corrupt people. most would rather go to sport than vote so when they vote they have no idea what they vote for.

    stop forest destruction, replant all habitats before those windmills sprout up like weed, where is the don? don quixote with his ass and lance to save us??

    len
     
  15. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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  16. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    “Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is nobel, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth."
    "What giants?" Asked Sancho Panza.
    "The ones you can see over there," answered his master, "with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long."
    "Now look, your grace," said Sancho, "what you see over there aren't giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone."
    "Obviously," replied Don Quijote, "you don't know much about adventures.”
    ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
     
  17. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    I'm all for planting the forests, but the windmills can power our refrigerators, computers and modest lighting. How can you be against wind power?
     
  18. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    ......and not against coal ?????
     
  19. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    at present until a real viable alternative comes, coal power is needed so people can afford to even live simply, we need to apply common sense wind and solar cannot deliver power on demand affordably, the biggest demands are generally of an evening for people, so if we rush to quickly into renewables we are heading for power outages, and our biggest power usage is food storage. even in shops where we buy our food.

    and i iterate aussies total co2 contribution is less that 2%.

    and once windmills go in then trees are out trees that can give us a gentler climate. surely even aesthetically trees look more appealing than windmills or solar arms which only produce in sun light. down teh road a massive sugar cane farm wealthy family draw water through 10" mains from their own permanent water near the coast probably around 30 to 50k away they use ac power as do all sugarcane farms to irrigate in this drought.

    len
     
  20. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Len

    The science suggests otherwise, especially when used in conjunction with tidal/wave energy, geothermal, biofuels, etc.

    Furthermore, on the issue of 'affordability', it has been scientifically proven that Australia could have in ten-years time an energy system that is 100% renewable, providing full baseload requirements, and all for $8 per household per week.

    Cheerio, Markos
     

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