A TASMANIAN fire expert has warned that changing climate patterns could lead to bushfires seriously impacting the state’s cities in the future.
University of Tasmania environmental change biology professor David Bowman has issued the warning, fearing that people are not fully across the risks.
‘‘We needed to understand the risk of fire in our community and adhere to the guidelines give by the Tasmania Fire Service.
‘‘The reason I’m motivated is because I’m frightened for what could be coming to us,’’ he said.
‘‘The worry is that if we get the wrong combination of events in a kind of summer like this, we’re going to be in a very bad place.’’
In an effort to control the hundreds of fires that were scattered across Tasmania over January, personnel from across Australia and New Zealand were flown in to combat the remote blazes.
About three weeks ago, a dry lightning storm saw an unprecedented 70 strikes affect Tasmania’s bushlands, starting fires that would go on to burn for several weeks.
Dr Bowman said that increasingly, climate change would put populated communities at risk.
‘‘The fact that we’ve had such a dry spring, a warm summer and we’ve seen vegetation which is thousands of years old burning, we can piece all of that together and conclude that we’re looking at climate change,’’ he said.
‘‘Imagine if that storm had actually been further to the South and imagine if all those ignition points were all around to the west of Hobart.
‘‘Further down the track, we’re going to have to start getting really serious about getting our towns and cities more resilient to fire because we’re carrying too much risk.’’
Dr Bowman said he had been approached internationally about the Tasmanian fires and the damage they had done to the environment.
He said that seeing such widespread blazes should act as a wake-up call for Australia’s future.
‘‘This isn’t an imaginary thing these scientists are waffling on about, they’re actually talking about reality,’’ Dr Bowman said.
‘‘Further down the line we’re going to have to get on top of climate change.’’