Contributed from New South Wales
The venom with which leading politicians in the government’s ranks have thrown against those, who suggest the unprecedented wave of bushfires over a large part of Australia, has some connection to global warming, underlies the extent of the nervousness of these politicians.
One would have thought a key the responsibility of political leadership, is to be at the forefront of coming to terms why this is happening, and using the resources at their command to find the cause. This is normal response when there is a will, to to try and make sure the same thing does not happen again.
The fires are a disaster. Lives have been lost and homes destroyed. Livelihoods have been lost. The damage to the land will take years to recover. In some places the survival of native plants and animals is put at risk, and this threatens the health of the biodiversity.
One after another, people with expertise are coming out and saying that human beings are responsible.
Mismanagement of the land over years, has torn down natural forests in many of the areas now burning, changing water courses has created dry and parch land out of what used to be green. The cutting down of trees has reduced precipitation and this has changed rainfall patterns.
Then there is the elephant in the room. Climate change has mixed with other factors, to create the perfect conditions for unprecedented fire.
Those who point to these realities are attacked and accused of politicising the fires. In fact, it is those who are doing the attacking who are doing the politicising.
Why do they do this? Because it has become an article of faith that either climate change is not real, and even if it is, a bit more sunshine is not going to hurt anyone.
More cynical observers might suggest that the incentive is to protect benefactors exploiting the land’s resources.
People who point out the causes are accused of lacking sympathy for those who are hurting. Yet it is the leader of this group of politicians, Scott Morrison, who insulted the victims, by saying is thoughts were with them and he would pray for them, when they were asking for real help.
Many of the victims, including farmers, who are asking why the government has done nothing. They have seen the land change before their eyes. They have seen the conditions for fire mature. All it needed was the wrong wind. It came. Noe they ask, why they have been bet down?
When this caused political damage, the cover ups came. One is the story that arsonists may have caused the fires. Arsonists can cause fires. Lightning can. So can a piece of glass, focusing the Sun’s radiation on one spot. But it is the conditions in which this happens that determines how big the fire is going to be.
Another story, started by Barnaby Joyce, puts the blame on ‘greenies,’ who prevented necessary land management to minimise the risk of fire. But it was government that slashed funding for fire and rescue services by $75 million in the last budget.
Former NSW fire and rescue commissioner Greg Mullins wrote: “Blaming ‘greenies’ for stopping these important measures is a familiar, populist, but basically untrue claim.”
But powerful people don’t need evidence. When it proves to be inconvenient, it is discarded. Self-interest takes first place.
The nervousness of these politicians is based on the recognition, that these terrible fires are hanging out their dirty laundry for everyone to see.
Never before have there been so many fires at once, and they have appeared before the summer has even begun. Never before have they covered so much of Australia. Anybody but a complete idiot must realise that something has changed – and what is wrong with discussing why this change has come about?
This is the only way Australia can prepare for what lies ahead.