Over the past couple of weeks, a couple of friends of mine who remain quite skeptical of climate science and human’s role in exacerbating climate change, have been posting stories that indicate the bushfire crisis in Australia primarily stems from arson and poor forest management, not global warming. Let’s let that sit and burn for a minute before I continue.
These kinds of posts from my skeptical friends, and yes they are really my friends, provide the standard misleading information that, at best, is intended to offer a different perspective on the issue, or at worst (most likely, in my view) provide misinformation that wastes my time and doesn’t get at the crux of the biscuit.
So, here’s the biscuit, short version. Reliable and replicated climate science research has been warning about the extreme bushfire dangers in Australia (and wildfire dangers in California, Brazil and elsewhere) for more than a decade. Those dangers primarily stem from unprecedented drought and extreme temperatures. It’s not that poor forest management and/arson do not play any roles, it’s simply that climate change has made things a lot fucking worse. Still with me?
I am not going to post links here to the abundant research that continues to confirm these findings because I have done that before, in my blog and in other places like Facebook. Besides, if folks want to become more informed, all they have to do is Google “research on increased risks of wildfires due to climate change” and they will get numerous cites. Plus, as I have also previously mentioned, one of the best sources for understandable summaries of the research on various climate change issues can be found in Joseph Romm’s book, “Climate Change: What everyone Needs to Know.” Read it.
But it’s the continued posting of all the distractive stuff that gets my gander. Add to that, the total misunderstanding, deliberate or not, of the role of climate change in fermenting disasters like that in Australia, and you have an optimum recipe for … hold it … wasting my time.
Here it is in a nutshell. Lately, some of my friends, along with ignoramuses like Sean Hannity who really does need to go back to being a contractor, have been posting these pieces that say it is not climate change or global warming that is “causing” the bushfires in Australia, it’s arsonists and forest mismanagement that are the primary culprits.
OK, so the arson aspect has been discredited so many times now I don’t know what to say, other than this. Yes, some of the fires were started by humans, either deliberately or stupidly (ya know, like by tossing lit cigarettes … morons), but those fires represent a small fraction of what has burned so much down under. And, forest mismanagement, which presumably refers to the notion that the Australian government has been negligent in not doing more things like controlled burns and other preventative measures (not to mention, allowing folks to build and live in forested areas that are at greatest risk), that’s really a bigger cause than the astounding drought and record heatwaves. And then you get stuck debating and refuting this stuff, wasting even more time.
What is so remarkable to me is that, actually, both of these factors – arson and forest mismanagement – have, in fact, played roles in these fires, but not in the way that those who post this misleading crap would want you to believe … meaning, they want you to believe that climate change or global warming is really not the “cause” here, and that alarmist “ecofascists” … the latest derisive term I learned earlier today … are once again using climate change as a way to overblow the issue and, most of all, undermine our way of life, dammit!
So here’s the poop, as I see it. Climate science has repeatedly and reliably predicted the climate patterns over time in Australia. Those patterns include the extreme drought and record heat waves that have pummeled our friends down under. These circumstances have made Australia ripe for these fires, and these circumstances were predicted over a decade ago.
I think that pretty much meets the criteria for “cause” as I understand it, though one can argue that those humans who lit the matches or threw the cigarettes, in a small minority of fires, also “caused” those events, even though lightning and other variables were the much more prevalent igniters.
But, what idiots like Hannity and others, who spew this regurgitated denial crap do is make it all seem like a refutation of climate science and climate change, and most of all, an opportunity to discredit those elitist radicals who would take way our Dodge Rams. Oh, and when you call some of these folks on it, they regroup and say things like, “Well, no, I’m not saying that climate change isn’t a factor, I’m saying that human’s role in it may not be the primary factor that the alarmists say it is, and I’m saying that our governments really can’t do anything about it.” Wow.
What these skeptics also don’t say, and remember, some of them are my friends, what they also don’t say is that they have NEVER ever read any of the climate science research that they seem so willing to refute. Laziness and ignorance personified.
Lop onto that, those who question whether there is “scientific consensus” regarding not only the science related to climate change but also the ‘what do we do about it’ aspect. To wit, they post stuff from discredited sources and websites that exhort the absence of consensus, when it is really clear that they are confusing unanimity (everyone agrees) with consensus (a large majority agree). In such instances, these skeptics will cite one or two skeptics, some scientists some not (e.g., Judith Curry – she’s a scientist, Larry Bell – who is not a scientist, and others) who have expressed disagreement with what the vast majority of scientists have said needs to happen, as if that is indicative of a lack of consensus. Again, it’s the old confusing unanimity with consensus mistake. You get it, you have 100 scientists, 98 say you should do this, but two say you should not do that, so the two must be on to something, instead of actually examining the research in the first place, which is what one should do before they spout off.
It is a really sly way of hitting you with the refuted skeptic argument again and again, cause if you keep doing that, you can wear people down. Brilliant strategy.
But frankly, this kinda crap just wastes my time. I can’t believe that we are still debating the role of humans in climate change. Lets stop that now, and instead focus on what we need to change. Read Romm’s book, read the research if you want to, and stop just reading the crap that supports your narrative.
My view? We need to take urgent steps to reduce carbon emissions AND we need to take urgent steps to fight and prevent calamities like the bushfires that are absolutely exacerbated by climate change. I’m not going to debate this anymore. We gonna act or not?
Oh, and I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong, at least at around a 95% confidence interval …