Monash Professor: Climate Change Driven Bushfires will Kill 2412 Aussies in the Next Decade

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From Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

h/t strativarius; The researchers appear to be effectively predicting five events of the same severity as Australia’s 2019-20 “Black Summer”, over the next seven years.

More than 2,400 lives will be lost to bushfires in Australia over a decade, experts predict

Exclusive: Healthcare costs from smoke-related deaths tipped to reach $110m, new modelling led by Monash University suggests

Melissa Davey Medical editor
@MelissaLDaveyMon 2 Jan 2023 01.00 AEDT

In the decade to 2030, more than 2,400 lives will be lost to bushfires in Australia, with healthcare costs from smoke-related deaths tipped to reach $110m, new modelling led by Monash University suggests.

The lead health economist with the university’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Associate Prof Zanfina Ademi, who headed the analysis, said it was important to get a predictive picture of the bushfire situation in Australia and its impact on health and the economy.

“This will underline preventive investment strategies to mitigate the incidence and severity of future bushfires in Australia,” she said.

“Even based on conservative assumptions, the health and economic burden of bushfires in Australia looms large,” the paper, published in the journal Current Problems in Cardiology, concluded.

“Human-induced climate change is increasing the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires. This underscores the importance of actions to mitigate bushfire risk.”

…Read more:

The abstract of the paper;

The Hospitalizations for Cardiovascular and Respiratory Conditions, Emergency Department Presentations and Economic Burden of Bushfires in Australia Between 2021 and 2030: A Modelling Study

Zanfina Ademi, Ella Zomer, Clara Marquina, Peter Lee, Stella Talic, Yuming Guo, Danny Liew rights and content


The health and environmental impacts of bushfires results in substantial economic costs to society. The present analysis sought to estimate the burden of bushfires in Australia over 10 years from 2021 to 2030 inclusive. A dynamic model with yearly cycles was constructed to simulate follow-up of the entire Australian population from 2021 to 2030, capturing deaths and years of life lived. Estimated numbers of bushfire-related-deaths, costs of related-hospitalizations, and broader economic costs were derived from published sources. A 5% annual discount rate was applied to all costs incurred and life years lived from 2022 onwards. Over the 10 years from 2021 to 2030, the modelled analysis predicted that 2418 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2412 – 2422] lives would be lost to bushfires, as well as 8590 [95% CI 8573 – 8606] years of life lost (discounted). Healthcare costs arising from deaths for smoke-related conditions, hospitalizations amounted to AUD $110 million [95% CI 91-129 million] (discounted). The impact on gross domestic product (GDP) totaled AUD $17.2 billion. A hypothetical intervention that reduces the impact of bushfires by 10% would save $11 million in healthcare costs and $1.9 billion in GDP. The health and economic burden of bushfires in Australia looms large during 2021 and 2030. This underscores the importance of actions to mitigate bushfire risk. The findings are useful for the future design and delivery and help policy makers to make informed decisions about investment in strategies to reduce the incidence and severity of future bushfires.Read more:

Sadly the full paper isn’t available. But the prediction seems absurd.

From the study summary;

… In 2019-20, Australia recorded one of the most severe bushfire seasons, with extensive areas of south-eastern Australia affected. Termed the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, almost 20 million hectares of land were burnt, resulting in over 3000 homes lost, and 34 lives lost directly (including nine firefighters).2,3 Borchers-Arriagada et al estimated there were an additional 417 excess deaths resulting from longer-term consequences of the fire. … It is estimated that the smoke-related healthcare costs of the Black Summer bushfires totaled AUD $1.95 billion.8 This is more than 9 times the median annual cost of bushfires for the previous 19 years (AUD $211 million) …Read more:

Unfortunately the full details of their model are paywalled. But going by their own numbers, 2412 deaths over the next 7 years is:

2412 ÷ (417 + 34) = 5 x “Black Summer” magnitude bushfires

They are predicting FIVE bushfires in the next seven years or the equivalent in smaller fires. Five fires which are predicted to cause as much harm as a single noteworthy event, the 2019-20 Black Summer fires, which according to their own numbers was nine time as bad as the median severity of events in the previous 19 years.

I don’t have access to their calculations, but given the apparent magnitude of the departure from business as usual, I’m guessing someone mixed up a decimal place in one of their model parameters.