As fires have ravaged large parts of the Australian wilderness, mainstream media have reported the disaster as caused by manmade global warming. It turns out the press is correct about the “manmade” part but not in the way they ever intended. Over the years, Australian environmental authorities have made illegal the practice of periodic controlled burning of underbrush to prevent larger fires. Together with arson, the results are devastating.
People who get their information through the major media corporations often identify climate change as the culprit behind any natural disaster or notable weather phenomenon. However, the body of work by scientists does not support such a conclusion. The United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has consistently reported that there is no scientific evidence of increased extreme weather. Globally, drought has gone slightly down in recent decades, and damage due to fire has declined.
Furthermore, Australia is not currently unusually hot or dry. Most of the fires have occurred near the east coast, where temperatures are below average. As the image shows, during December, the temperature was actually lower than the normal rate for the region.
Environmentalists have strongly influenced the policies of Australia. One of their accomplishments has been to prevent periodic controlled burning of dry plant matter on the forest floor, under the auspice that doing so would release CO2 into the atmosphere.
In 2015, former Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) bushfire scientist David Packham said that forest fuel levels had worsened over the last 30 years due to “misguided green ideology.” He warned that unless at least 10% of dry ground matter on public land is burned annually, “a massive bushfire disaster will occur. The forest and alpine environment will decay and be damaged possibly beyond repair, and homes and people [will be] incinerated.”
He added that forest fuel levels in Australia had risen to their most dangerous levels in thousands of years.
Thus, the current situation in Australia has the same cause as the recent forest fire disaster in California: green incompetence. These supposed natural catastrophes can be easily avoided with proper planning and preventative measures. Finland, which has a sane and sound forest management policy, has avoided such tragedies even while its neighboring countries were in flames.
The second manmade component is people who light the fires, either due to carelessness or deliberate arson; 183 people have been arrested in the state of New South Wales, the current disaster hotspot, for igniting fires. Government statistics show that humans start more than 80% of fires, and arson is suspected in up to half of the cases.
Who sets fires? Mostly delinquent teenagers, but we know that after the 2017 California wildfires, ISIS described arson as a novel form of terrorism. Another group that could profit from the scenario is radical environmentalists who may wish to blow the horn for the climate change cause.
Despite media misinformation, cooler heads are aware of green ideology as a major contributing cause to the wildfires. Whether this realization will translate into a sensible forest management policy, involving annual burns to reduce forest fuel, remains to be seen.
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