Forgotten Fact: 1974/75 Australian Bush Fires Were More Than 9 Times Greater Than Those Of 2019/20!

German climate blogger Snow Fan here presents some background on Australian bush fires. 

It turns out that the 1974/75 bush fires were considerably larger in area than the 2019/20 bush fires we have been witnessing.

The Australian bush fires of 2019/20 have seen an area as big as southern Germany (see above). But in 1974/75, they covered an area as large as France and Spain combined! Source:

Snow fan writes:

On the completely exaggerated climate alarm in the German media on the current bush fires in Australia, a pleasantly objective report from WetterOnline: ‘In the summer of 1974/1975, an area in Australia burned to the tune of about the size of Spain and France. For the sake of perspective: Bush fires are generally nothing unusual in the Australian summer. Often large areas are affected. The last time a huge fire raged was in February 2009. The so-called Black-Saturday-bush fires killed over 170 people and destroyed 1800 houses. […] Since the beginning of the great bush fires in October 2019, more than 100,000 square kilometres of land burned throughout Australia, which is roughly the size of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg combined. Thousands of houses were destroyed.'”

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have a combined area of around 105,000 square kilometers, so there’s no doubt this season’s bush fires have been devastating.

But WetterOnline reminds Australia has seen much worse:

 In the summer of 1974/1975 the flames burned over an area of about one million square kilometers. This corresponds to an area about three times the size of Germany.”

That means an area that is nine times greater than what has been affected this year! Back in 1975, however, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were BELOW the “safe” 350 ppm.

26 responses to “Forgotten Fact: 1974/75 Australian Bush Fires Were More Than 9 Times Greater Than Those Of 2019/20!”

  1. Jacques Lemiere
  2. C.S.A. Bakker

    Stephan Pyne, a US professor wrote a book called “Burning Bush; a fire history of Australia”. On the fires of 1974/75 he says that the season was the worst in 30 years. He not only touches on the state of Victoria that saw the worst fires,
    and where 4,5 million hectares were lost which was 1/5 of the state.

    However, he also claims that overall
    about 117 million hectares were burnt, predominantly in the interior
    where there were few communities and it was therefore less noticed. He added that the scale of the area affected was largely detected by satellite after the fact .
    The total area represented 15 % of the Australian landmass.

    I don’t see this raised anywhere yet. However, wouldn’t mind seeing this searched.

  3. Bob in Castlemaine

    The Black Thursday fires of 6 February, 1851 burnt through around 5 million hectares of Victoria, the smallest mainland state, located in the temperate zone in the south east of Australia. The Black Thursday fires remain the largest bushfires in Victoria since European settlement.
    Not much “global warming” going around in those times?

    1. David Appell

      Why do you think earlier fires mean climate change has no role in the present fires?

      Esp an 1851 fire. Do you suppose they had the same fire suppression technology then as they do now? Do you suppose maybe they just let the fires burn?

      1. Josh

        Bob’s point was that fires of this scale are not unprecedented. I would add that Land management and lighting of fires (deliberate or otherwise) are the overwhelming contributing factors here. Phrases such as ‘Climate change is causing this and that etc’ are loaded and don’t mean anything scientifically speaking.

        1. David Appell

          Without looking at *all* the factors, you can’t conclude anything. How do fire suppression efforts in 1851 compare to those today?

      2. David Appell

        Again, so what? Writing that says nothing about the role of climate change.

        Neither do your guesses, which you haven’t given a shred of evidence for.

  4. David Appell

    Pierre, as you probably saw, David Evans conceded his bet — a year early — to Eli Rabbet, as this past decade won’t be cooler than last decade.

    When will you be doing the same for “The Bet?”

    The numbers are way against you and you’d need a huge meteor impact to have a chance.


    1. Josh

      David, short term trends don’t necessarily mean much here. For all we know, any warming experienced in recent decades could be entirely natural. For every data set from anywhere in the world which indicates warming, one could just as easily find a set which suggests cooling. The author of this site has provided links to several sites which contain much useful information. Why don’t you check them out?

      1. Colin Guest

        We do know that the current increase in temperature is man made as a result of CO2 emissions. 97% of Climate Scientists agree on that and the other 3% have been discredited. ( only BS on Fossil Fuel companies payroll. )
        Whilst there have been hotter temperatures, ice ages and higher oceans in Earths history, the rate of change has never been this quick and when combined with habitat loss, the mass extinction of life on this planet is happening in our lifetimes.

        1. Caz

          Do you know the origin of the 97% myth? Just quote the size of the sample will you?

        2. Caz
    2. John Brown

      Is a bet the same as scientific proof or is it just utterly useless?

      Whoever brings up betting in the context of science has no place in it.

      Both sides have done this. What for?

      Why mentioning it here David?

  5. Roberto Ruggiu

    What about the loss of wildlife and biodiversity? Was that comparable to the one recorded in this bushfire season? To my mind, that is even more relevant than the hectares of forest lost as a result of the bushfires.

  6. drumphish

    If fires raged in Australia in 1975 covering an area of France and Spain combined, it had to raise the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

    No wonder there is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since then. har

    If you ever have the opportunity to visit northern British Columbia, take it. Stay at Belle’s Lodge, you won’t be disappointed.

    You are reaching the 60th parallel then into the Yukon Territory, you are a long ways away and do need to continue to travel until you reach a refuge, a town, a gas stop, a recreational outpost. Along the way, I saw a forest fire burning, probably from a lightning strike. Too far away to even think about fighting it, poses no real danger to anything except the trees and shrubs, it will burn until it goes out. Any animals in the vicinity will know enough to not go into a forest fire.

    The fires in Alaska at the time had you driving through smoke-filled air for a good four hundred miles and it was still in the air. Incredibly beautiful landscapes unscathed and unfettered, just there. Swans in smaller lakes, moose to steer clear of, everything you can imagine in a natural setting is what you see. The Yukon River is sight not soon to be forgotten.

    During the harvest of small grains, barley, wheat, you always had a five gallon bucket filled with water and a small rug to beat a fire started by a hot muffler, you had to be prepared to avoid a potential disaster, lose the truck, burn your field of ripe crop. When it is a 100 degrees F day,the field might as well all be stick matches ready to burn. Have to have fire prevention on your mind when the conditions present such a danger.

    You’re not thinking about vacation, you think about what has to be done to get the job done with few major problems. When you are drying sunflowers 24/7, the grain dryer can heat the sunflowers to the point of combustion, you’re dealing with sunflower oil in the raw state. Your chances of a fire increases when sunflowers get stuck on the walls of the dryer. You have to dry sunflowers to prevent rancid sunflowers that might get you three cents a pound, not seventeen.

    You must pay attention to prevent fires, you can’t be too careful, water works to douse a fire. Unless it’s a Tesla, then you need chemical fire dousing chemicals, fire retardants.

    When you keep your nose to the grindstone, you keep it out of other people’s business. You invite a firestorm of criticism if you don’t.

    Especially if you are the Prime Minister of Australia who vacations while Australia burns.

    At ground level, exposed coal, when struck by lightning, will/does burn for years.

    Going to be kind of tough to live it down, vacationing while Australia burns, you’re fiddling, not vacationing. A Waterloo, looks kind of like it to me, pun intended.

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    […] NoTricksZone notes that fires were worse in Australia in 1974-1975 […]

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  9. Josh

    Some perspective and discussion of potential solutions here

  10. Plast, plast och mera plast - Klimatupplysningen

    […] som brukar ha intressanta och aktuella inlägg är NTZ (NoTricksZone), som den 11 januari hade en artikel om bränder i Australien och nämner bränderna vintern (australiska sommaren) 1974/75, som härjade en yta stor som […]

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    […] Australia: Brush fires 1974/1975 far worse than today’s “crisis” (Report) […]

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    […] Forgotten Fact: 1974/75 Australian Bush Fires Were More Than 9 Times Greater Than Those Of 2019/20! […]

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    […] Forgotten Fact: 1974/75 Australian Bush Fires Were More Than 9 Times Greater Than Those Of 2019/20! […]

  14. Colin Guest

    Factually incorrect. You should delete this post because you are spreading lies…

    1. Bernie

      It’s 4.9 million estimated not 49 million. Learn to use decimal points.

  15. Andrew Bradford

    The total area burnt in the 1974-75 was indeed far larger than the current 2019-20 season, but that fact alone is meaningless without considering the nature of those fires.

    Following two years of above average rain across Australia, large areas of grassland were present in the winter of ’74. By summer, the grasslands dried out and subsequent fires rapidly spread through these tracts of land – the vast majority of which was not populated. There have been a few other years where large areas of arid and semi-arid land have burned, with similarly limited impacts.

    The current bushfire season has largely burned through temperate and sub-tropical forest with most impact across the states of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales in populated rural areas or in proximity to towns. The claim that this season is unprecedented is not ‘completely exaggerated’.

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