The tendency to get all cosmic about saving the entire planet and neglecting to guard against floods also applies to wildfires. As environmental ministries obsess on the climate game, they lose sight of practical disaster-prevention measures. Indeed they have a rather ugly vested interest in doing so since the worse the catastrophe, the more evidence they can claim to have of the climate crisis from which only they can save us. Thus Eric Worrall observes that in Australia, “Reducing available fuel seems an obvious strategy for fire risk management. But according to the CSIRO [CSIRO being the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation], the real culprit is climate change.” Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? And then not do anything about it.
The press are totally on board as usual. The Sydney Morning Herald blared “CSIRO study proves climate change driving Australia’s 800% boom in bushfires”. See it was peer-reviewed so abracadabra. And never mind all that silly forest management. The lead author told the newspaper “This is happening regardless of anything that we might or might not do to try to stop the fires.” Other than making China stop burning coal, presumably.
In any case piling up tinder is just not relevant. “When the first half of the study period, from 1988 to 2001, is compared to the period between 2002 and 2018, the average annual forest burned area in Australia increased 350 per cent. That figured ramps up to 800 per cent when the fires of 2019-20, which burnt more than 24 million hectares of land, are included.” Now this rather raises the perennial question when they think climate change kicked in for real. Was it 2011? 2019? Will Australia be a blackened hulk in 2025? Or will the fires go back down and something else become the cause du jour? Where, indeed, are the Amazon fires of yesteryear, with the lungs of the planet ablaze or some such metaphor?
As Worrall points out, a fire services report in Australia in 2015 reached quite a different conclusion, calling for more controlled burns to limit serious blazes. Advice that was not followed between then and 2019 with predictable results but see climate change.