We’ve all seen the fire maps and the headlines, “Australia is going up in flames.” ABC-TV in the USA showed a map that made it appear that over 30% of Australia was burning. The map was off a bit, since 1% of Australia is burning, and that’s bad enough without exaggerating. ABC refused to alter the map even when challenged. So where’d the map come from? ABC News editor Matt Zarrell “Appears [to have] used Himawari-8 🛰️ thermal anomalies (‘hotspots’) from Jan 2 … so anything hot (cars in full sun, industry)+ fire used in land mgmt.” In other words, that’s not a map of stuff on fire, but a map of virtually anything in Australia that gets hot enough in direct sunlight to get picked up by a very sensitive Japanese weather satellite.
But the mass media, the global warming (I refuse to say “climate change” since warming is the concern) fanatics and those who profit from the hysteria (automobile battery makers, for example) hate to let any disaster go to waste when they can exaggerate it to drum up sympathy for their cause. In descending order, the actual causes of the Australian brush fires are: too much fuel (dead wood and brush) buildup; the Indian Ocean dipole; arson; lightning and wind, not counting the hot air from media.
These fires are not new. The 1851 Black Thursday bushfires burnt a quarter of Victoria, killed 12 humans and over a million sheep. Blue Mountains (another hard hit area today) facing a tragedy where a million hectares were burnt in 1968. Or the more recent 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria which resulted in 173 deaths and more than 2,000 homes destroyed. Many of these and many others occurred before global warming was a thing.
Fires need fuel. Bushfire scientist David Packham warned in this prescient article in 2015 that unless fuel reduction burns were increased, Victoria and New South Wales were facing potential disaster.The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) issued a statement asking people not to blame either the fire crews or climate change, but rather the fuel loads – the amount of dry combustible material that has been allowed to build up.
So why has this happened? The irony is that Greens/environmentalist activism has greatly hindered effective management of the bush. In NSW, fire trails were abandoned in order to keep out campers and four wheel drives. The trouble is that these trails both acted as fire breaks and provided access for fire crews into remote areas. In Gippsland – the area in Victoria most devastated by the latest fires – some of the load reduction burning was stopped because of the ignorance and short-sightedness of the same kind of people who are now crazed by the effects of their “policies”. Like the Democrats in our country, “environmentalist wackos” (thank you Rush Limbaugh for the appellation) all over the world help create the problems that they protest. Talk about job security! Protesters held signs saying “stop burning nesting birds”. The burns were cut back from 370 hectares to nine. Nowa Nowa was evacuated in the latest fires.
The Indian Ocean Dipole is the main reason for both the extreme heat and drought in Australia. This is an effect where the western half of the ocean is warmer than that of the eastern. Added to this is the problem of the winds. Normally the strong southerlies blow several hundred kilometres to the south but for some unknown reason they are much closer to Australia. The combination of heat, drought and wind is devastating. In reality, there is not much that the Australian government can do to control the wind, waves and heat. If Australia were to destroy its own economy (and impoverish many poor people even more) by reducing its emissions from 1.3% to 1% of global emissions, the new power stations being planned in China would make up for that within a year.
Arson – It seems incredible but one of the major causes of the bushfires is arson. As the Sydney Morning Herald stated in this informative report, 13% of bushfires are natural; 87% are human and of these at least 40% are believed to be arson. The situation is so serious that today it was reported that NSW police are to set up a taskforce to investigate how many of the fires were caused deliberately and to seek to bring the culprits to justice. As of this writing, 24 people have been charged with arson, 53 are facing legal action for ignoring fire bans, 47 have been charged with discarding lighted matches on dry tinder (separate from the arsonists, who probably used accelerants).
While we should cut down on carbon emissions (huge progress is being made), we should not feed hysteria or incite the mobs. We should not use tragedy for political ends and we should not deny science for the sake of politics. Then there is the hypocrisy. For example, the Sydney Morning Herald seeks to make political capital out of this by using it to attack the Prime Minister and claiming that climate change is the real reason. Yet in the weekend SMH, there are pages of adverts for wealthy readers to jet off to exotic holidays all over the world. To complain about climate change that you say is caused largely by air travel, and then to take the 30 pieces of silver in order to promote that travel is as hypocritical as those who fly to conferences which seek to discuss how to stop people flying!
Bernie Sanders, as usual, was a fount of hyperbole and exaggeration. “I say to those who are delaying action on climate change: Look at the blood red-sky and unbreathable air in Australia because of raging forest fires.” Nope Bernie, try Dipole, arson, poor fuel management. Liz Warren, “The catastrophic scenes from Australia’s wildfires should alarm all of us. Climate change is driving even more dangerous and destructive fires across the world, from California to New South Wales…” Nope Pocahontas, the biggest cause of these destructive fires is fuel buildup. The cause of fuel buildup? Policies restricting brush-thinning controlled burns. Whose dumb ideas are those? Liberals and environmentalists. Hmm, maybe some are arsonists.