Thursday, January 28, 2010

Climate change to triple Australia fire danger: report

Agence France-Presse: Climate change could more than triple the risk of catastrophic wildfires in parts of Australia, a top environmental group warned Thursday, almost a year since savage firestorms that killed 173 people. Greenpeace warned that, without a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the frequency of severe fire danger in drought-parched southeastern Australia would grow threefold by 2050.

"Catastrophic" conditions similar to those ahead of February's so-called "Black Saturday" wildfires which killed 173 people in towns around Melbourne would occur once every three years, instead of once in every 33. "The frequency of catastrophic fire danger could increase more than tenfold in Melbourne, and the number of total fire ban days could triple in Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra by 2050," according to a Greenpeace report entitled "Future Risk."

If targets for emission cuts proposed by world leaders at December's Copenhagen summit were adopted in a new global treaty, southeastern Australia would still face at least a doubling of severe fire risk, Greenpeace said. "If we do nothing to address climate change we are knowingly placing more lives and property at risk," said Greenpeace CEO Linda Selvey.

According to the report temperatures in Australia had warmed an average 0.9 degrees Celsius (33.6 F) since 1950, with the greatest intensification of heat in the country's east, which was accompanied by markedly declining rainfall…..

A house damaged by bushfires in the Kinglake complex, in Yarra Glen. Shot by Nick carson, who has released the image into the public domain

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