Australia is currently in the midst of massive wildfires, with the states of New South Wales and Victoria bearing the brunt of the fires. News reports are full of stories of hundreds of millions of animals being killed by fire, thousands of tourists trapped at seaside towns by encircling wildfires, and photographs of skies turned an apocalyptic shade of red from fire and smoke. And as predicted, the wildfires have brought the virtue signaling climate change true believers out in force.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing massive amounts of criticism from Australians who view his response to the fires as nonchalant and lethargic, as well as his dismissal of the role that climate change has played in these fires. Australian actor Russell Crowe was among those, as he didn’t attend the recent Golden Globe awards show due to the wildfires. But in his acceptance speech, read by Jennifer Aniston, Crowe stated: “Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based.” But is that really true?
Australian police have charged 24 people in the past few months with deliberately setting brush fires. It’s unclear how many of the current fires have their origins in arson, but it’s definitely one of the possible or probable causes. Australia also has the same problems that California and many areas of the American West have, which is overdevelopment in fire-prone areas. Combined with tree removal, excessive shrub growth, and insufficient clearing of brush, all the ingredients are there for destructive fires.
Fires aren’t anything new to Australia either, with early explorers calling the island a “continent of smoke” due to the regular use of fire by aboriginal Australians in clearing brush to cultivate land for crops. The current group of wildfires aren’t even the most destructive in recent Australian history. The 2002 Northern Territory bush fires burned over 37 million acres of land, while the wildfires across Australia in the 1974-75 fire season burned over 250 millions acres. The current wildfires have a long way to go to match that total.
But facts and history don’t matter to virtue signaling celebrities and others whose ideological blinders forbid them from acknowledging the truth. Yes, the wildfires in Australia are a tragedy, and everything possible should be done to stop them. But they’re not worse than in the past, and climate change isn’t the reason they’re occurring right now.