By Letter to the Editor on January 18, 2020.
An apocalyptic theme of fire and transformation plays to our sense of foreboding. We naturally intuit Australia’s fires as a sign of the end. What lurks behind this nightmare spectacle?
Start with Australia’s actual climate – it hasn’t changed. Its latitude on Earth is in the southern hemisphere’s desert belt, with the Namib and the Atacama. It’s naturally arid, its summer occurring as the Earth orbits nearest to the sun. All consonant with headline events.
Depicted in Aborigine art is the motif of birds carrying fire. This actually happens: black kites and brown falcons not only congregate at the edges of brush fires to catch small animals, they grasp burning twigs in their talons and fly off to start more fires, flushing out more prey. Could this natural event have burned out of control?
It turns out the headline fires are more anthropogenic than avian. However, it’s lazy to blame CO2 emissions. (Enough atmospheric CO2 would inhibit open flame, making fire impossible.)
Australia’s wildfires are the result of arson. By the end of 2020’s first week, police in New South Wales, Queensland and even Tasmania reported 183 arrests. Malicious mischief by holidaying students, some efforts at “civilization jihad,” and honest loss of campfire control accounted for much, not all, of the ravage. Angry property owners are singling out Green policy.
The Aborigines mitigated summer wildfires by burning out underbrush during Australia’s cool season. Settlers fanning out from Botany Bay adopted this practice. But Green activists in a fit of “re-wilding” disrupted controlled firebrake burns with punitive legislation: “Too much CO2 release!” Well, what have they got now?
The fires along Australia’s southeastern coast burn where Beijing investors plan a high-speed rail corridor. Beijing (shades of “Shock Doctrine”) won’t let this crisis go to waste. Nor have the instruments of the UN.
Incoming UN envoy Mark Carney warns that an economic collapse could be “climate-related,” e.g. CO2-associated. But it might actually come from noncompliance with would-be global regulators – not directly climatic. What they’re relying on is a climate of apprehension, and with it a mass compliance that doesn’t ask questions.