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Arnold Ahlert / Jan. 13, 2020

The Inconvenient Truth of Australian Brushfires

Predictably, alarmists blame climate change. But — surprise — it's arsonists and bad policy.

As the old saying goes, when all you have is hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And for American leftists and their internationalist allies, who yearn for globalist government ruled by “enlightened” technocrats, “climate change” is their most enduring hammer.

The brushfires in Australia are the latest example. Like California, Australia has a brushfire season that occurs on an annual basis. “Bushfires are a regular feature in the Australian calendar, but the blazes in New South Wales and Queensland have not previously occurred on such a scale and so early in the fire season, officials say,” Reuters reports. “This has led many Australians to ask how closely the fires can be linked to climate change.”

So far, so good for the alarmists. Unfortunately, Reuters then states what amounts to unadulterated climate hypocrisy. “The science around climate change is complex,” it adds. “It’s not the cause of bushfires but scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate would contribute to Australia’s fires becoming more frequent and more intense.”

So what is the cause of brushfires? Again much like California, Mother Nature aided and abetted by environmentalists, for whom something as sensible as vegetation management must not only be prevented but criminalized. “Queensland councils have won reinforced powers to control land clearing in a High Court decision that affects one-fifth of the state’s land mass, an area the size of Malaysia,” Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mark Solomons reported last September. “The decision is a blow to the development industry and farming lobby, which had warned it would expose landholders, including ‘mum and dad’ property owners, to massive fines for clearing activities they have historically carried out as a matter of course.”

The land is question is referred to as “Category X” or “exempt areas” on state vegetation maps, and it is subject to local government land-management decisions that may necessitate development permits.

The penalties for unauthorized clearing? As high as $600,000 — per breach.

The “logic” behind this scheme? “People often forget that trees aren’t just a piece of wood or scrub in the way; they are the habitat of our native species, and could be habitat for endangered fauna,” Revel Pointon, a solicitor for the Environmental Defenders Office, a community legal service and advocacy group, explains. “They can also be highly important culturally for First Nations people.”

Not if they’re burning. “There’s almost no considerable habitat remaining for many species,” John Woinarski of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub told Australian national broadcaster ABC. “That leads to local extinction events.” Woinarski further described the fires as a “holocaust of destruction” for wildlife.

Another inconvenient reality associated with the current season? “Almost 100 firebugs have deliberately started blazes across Queensland that have destroyed homes and consumed thousands of hectares of bushland,” the Brisbane Times reported in December. The paper further noted that figures obtained by the Australian Associated Press reveal police had dealt with 31 adults and 67 juveniles suspected of deliberately setting fires, and that as many as 120 additional fires were still being investigated.

Dr Paul Read, co-director of the National Centre for Research in Bushfire and Arson, paints an even grimmer picture asserting that “cunning, furtive and versatile criminals” are responsible for the overwhelming majority of brushfires. “About 85 per cent are related to human activity, 13 per cent confirmed arson and 37 per cent suspected arson,” he stated. “The remainder are usually due to reckless fire lighting or even just children playing with fire.”

Assertions such as these have enraged the climate alarmists. The New York Times singled out “conservative Australian media outlets, especially the influential newspapers and television stations owned by Rupert Murdoch,” for mounting a disinformation campaign that seeks to hold environmentalists and arsonists responsible. “The idea that ‘greenies’ or environmentalists would oppose measures to prevent fires from ravaging homes and lives is simply false,” the Times asserts, linking that statement to the Australian Greens website, which itself asserts that the Greens “support hazard reduction burns and backburning to reduce the impact of bushfires when guided by the best scientific, ecological and emergency service expertise.”

The real culprit according to this group? “The major cause of climate change that has lead to these bushfires and extreme dry conditions around the country is the mining, burning and exporting of coal, oil and gas,” it declares.

That coal was Australia’s most valuable export in 2018, and remains an integral part of its economy? Much like America’s Green New Dealers, economic considerations are wholly irrelevant when it comes to “saving the planet.”

The Times further insisted an independent study “found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in [the Murdoch-owned] The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.”

Bots and trolls? In 2017, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) here in the United States published its two decade analysis of American wildfires. It’s conclusions? “Human-started wildfires accounted for 84% of all wildfires, tripled the length of the fire season, dominated an area seven times greater than that affected by lightning fires, and were responsible for nearly half of all area burned,” the report states.

Yet somehow, the gross exaggerations of the climate alarmists, the most ridiculous of which is the planet has only 12 years to go before climate change becomes an existential threat to humanity? Perfectly reasonable, and Axios explains why. “Even if hard deadlines are scientifically flawed, they can be effective when it comes to activism,” the website reports. “The 12-year timeframe, in particular, has been widely adopted by proponents of climate action.”

So who is it, exactly, promoting a disinformation campaign?

“I’m sorry, but I lived in Australia through the past two decades of escalating fire crises and it’s not climate change that has caused today’s disaster, but the criminal negligence of governments that have tried to buy green votes by locking up vast tracts of land as national parks, yet failed to spend the money needed to control ground fuel and maintain fire trails,” argues New York Post columnist Miranda Devine. “Instead, they bowed to an ideology that obstructs necessary hazard reduction and prevents landowners from clearing vegetation around their own properties, all in thrall to the god of ‘biodiversity.’”

“God” (with a lowercase “g”) is an apt term because climate alarmism, undermined by a plethora of “irrefutable” predictions that haven’t materialized, must be couched in religious terms lest the globalists fail to sway the great unwashed and unsophisticated masses that First World living is a stain on their collective souls. Thus, one can expect the hysteria to intensify.

Yet realities keep intruding. “Officials at Glacier National Park (GNP) have begun quietly removing and altering signs and government literature which told visitors that the Park’s glaciers were all expected to disappear by either 2020 or 2030,” columnist Anthony Watts reported last June. Watts further notes that “no mainstream news outlet has done any meaningful reporting regarding the apparent stabilization and recovery of the glaciers in GNP over the past decade.”

Where’s another hammer when you really need one?

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