… And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11).
… And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)
… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken; (Luke 21:26)
… This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)
Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. These verses are several of many such prophecies from throughout the Bible. 2017 was the worst year in recorded history for the intensity, frequency, severity, duration and occurrence of a large number of severe natural disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, torrential flooding, unprecedented wildfires in unusual places, devastating droughts, excessive/scorching heat setting records everywhere, record snowfalls in Europe and Russia. Snow in the Arabia. This list can go on. Most studied Eschatologists believe these ‘fearful sights’ and massive natural disasters are all part of the ‘CONVERGENCE’ of signs that this Biblical and prophetic age is closing. Most people who study prophecy are familiar with the routine reference(s) made that these things will be like a woman having labor pains that occur in greater severity, frequency, size and duration prior to giving birth. End of note.
Bushfires in the tropics: Queensland faces terrifying new reality
With cyclone season under way, exhausted emergency services are more aware than most that climate change is beginning to pose impossible challenges
Mon 3 Dec 2018. The Guardian.
Late on Sunday night, a tropical cyclone formed off the north Queensland coast. The storm has begun a track towards the coast, where more than 100 bushfires are still burning after week-long heatwaves and “unprecedented” conditions. Tropical cyclone Owen will bring some relief from the stinking heat; lower temperatures and rainfall that should help firefighters control the most threatening fires by midweek.
Queensland’s exhausted emergency services will not welcome Owen’s track towards the shore with any sense of respite; to them the blended ends of disaster seasons represent a horror scenario, but one many have seen coming.
Paul Gray, a representative of the Queensland Firefighters’ Union, says the nature of bushfires has noticeably changed in recent years. The fires, he says, have become more intense and longer-lasting. Last week conditions in parts of Queensland were classified “catastrophic” for the first time. The rating has only existed since 2009, but no bushfire in the state since 1966, when warnings were first introduced, would have been considered so dangerous.
“They’re always intense, but now you’re getting punished for days and days. Instead of a heatwave lasting one day, heatwaves are lasting four days or longer,” Gray says.
“It makes it more difficult for fire crews to stand down, we lose the ability to rotate. Firefighters are working longer hours on protracted incidents for days at a time. There is an increasing need for out-of-state and overseas assistance, because it’s getting harder to relieve our own crews.”
Australia’s devastating bushfires typically occur far to the south of the tropical Queensland rainforest.
But Gray says the fire season in the north now lasts longer. That means a diminishing timeframe to allow emergency services to change tack from firefighting to battling cyclones and floodwaters, which historically have caused many more deaths and wider destruction in Queensland.
“We have to turn around very quickly and go from a fire mindset to a floodwater mindset. We have to repurpose vehicles for a different kind of response. It used to be that you could predict when your storm or flood season would be, you’d predict when your fire season would be.
“Climate change is having an impact on firefighting. There’s scientific data to back it up, but I like to think that because we are on the coal face that people are a little bit more aware of just how things have actually changed.”
‘What was normal 20 years ago is not normal now’
“Climate change is about unprecedented conditions becoming more probable,” says the climate scientist Lesley Hughes. “What was normal on average 20 years ago is not normal or average now. If you’re getting unprecedented conditions, that’s what climate scientists have been warning about.”
The word unprecedented has been used repeatedly to describe Queensland’s weather this past week. Centuries-old heat records were broken in north Queensland, most remarkably in Cairns, where the hottest November temperature had been a 37.2C day in 1900. On Monday last week, Cairns was recorded at 42.6C. The following four days were all hotter than the previous record.
“The strongest relationship between climate change and bushfires is the weather on the day,” Hughes says. “As climate change continues on, we continue to get increased average temperatures, that’s increasing the probability that we will get dangerous fire weather on any particular day.”
In 2014 the Climate Council made six key findings about Australia’s fire season. That risk had increased; the fire season was becoming longer; fires were being fuelled by record conditions; the number of high-risk days would increase; communities should prepare for increasingly severe fires and “this is the critical decade”.
“This is the new reality that people have to live and plan for,” Hughes says.
Longer bushfire seasons in Australia and the US have already threatened to disrupt longstanding cooperation between the two countries, including sharing personnel, equipment and expertise. Changes to fire seasons have this week created a conflict between the lingering bushfire emergency in Queensland and the forecast of extreme conditions in Victoria. Crews from Victoria were sent north to assist, but the last will return south so their home state can be properly prepared.
“Where once we might have shared personnel during bushfire periods … that’s becoming less and less feasible because countries and states are needing those things at the same time,” Hughes says.
“This does point to the need for more resources, as well as increasingly looking at planning regulations, looking at what people can build, having roads to get people out. It’s an example of how the change in risk due to climate change is affecting everything about our daily lives.”
“People said ‘the whole town is going’”
There is a kind of bushfire no one can survive; the sort we could barely conceive until a decade ago.
Before the catastrophic Black Saturday fires in Victoria, which killed 173 people in February 2009, residents were advised they could choose to remain in their homes and defend their property. The mantra was leave early, or stay, in part to avoid the dangers of having people panic and flee with a fire front approaching.
In Queensland last week, emergency services used modelling developed in Victoria after Black Saturday to launch several widespread evacuations. The largest was in the town of Gracemere, near Rockhampton, where about 8,000 people were told to go.
Beau Dabron, the administration manager at the Gracemere Hotel, stayed in town. He and others watched traffic bank up in town and remain stationary for more than an hour, as people piled into cars and attempted the short drive to Rockhampton.
“Once night time fell we had a good view from the pub towards Kabra … there’s none of that glow, there was no flame. In our minds we felt we were fine. We slept with one eye open just to be safe,” he says.
Was he worried that this fire could be different?
“Most people have been through them before, so generally speaking people have something to expect. The fear set in when people said, ‘the whole town is going’.”
The Tropic of Capricorn runs through Gracemere. Conditions turned when the tropical humidity suddenly dropped – combined with record high temperatures and fierce winds, the ingredients to fuel the most dangerous fires.
Rachel Nolan, a fire ecologist from the University of Western Sydney, says climate change means conditions are drier, as well as warmer.
“The two things are really tied together,” Nolan says. “When it’s warmer, that means the fuels are going to be drier.
“There’s a couple of things that contribute to the risk of fire – the fuel load, the amount of material that can burn, and how dry that fuel is.”
Richard Thornton, the chief executive of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards cooperative research centre, says there has been a “long-term moisture deficit” on the Australian east coast that adds to the fire risk.
“The whole of the east coast … is pretty dry at the moment. The underlying condition is dry. What that means is that if you get a day that’s hot, that’s windy. … it will burn with a ferocity.”
Thornton says the Queensland fires are “another example of some of the extremes that are possible”.
“It’s incredibly unusual, if not unknown, for these sorts of temperatures in this location. It’s pretty clear that something is changing in terms of fire season.
“I think that what we’re seeing in Queensland is tragic for those who are there. For the rest of the country, who are coming into the beginning of summer, this is a real wake-up call saying, ‘Now is the time to prepare’.”
Categories: Extreme Wildfires Update