Climate change hysterics need a lesson in history

All the so-called leaders and self-appointed climate guardians blaming the current bushfires on climate change know little of our history - and even less about how indigenous people managed land for tens of thousands of years.

It's not climate change that's caused these bushfires. It's a severe drought in much of eastern Australia coupled with the reluctance of green-driven councils and government departments to allow hazard reduction burns.

Prior to European settlement, Aboriginal people would routinely set fire to the bush to keep down undergrowth and to create grazing for kangaroos and other game. It's why the early settlers described the country they found for the first time as almost parkland.

Fire-stick-farming still happens in parts of remote Australia. But settlers from Britain, where wildfire had been virtually unknown for centuries, naturally enough, followed their own land management practices without systematic burning - and soon enough catastrophic fires followed.

 

The Black Thursday bushfires in Victoria in 1851 killed about 12 people and are thought to have destroyed five million hectares, or about twice the area burnt so far this year in NSW. The 1898 Red Tuesday bushfire, also in Victoria, killed 12 people and destroyed about 2000 buildings. Victorian bushfires across February and March 1926 killed 60 people. The 1939 Black Friday bushfires, also extending over two months, killed 71 people. In another month long Victorian bushfire emergency in 1944, nearly 20 people were killed. In February 1967, the Black Tuesday bushfire in Tasmania killed 62 people. The 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria and South Australia killed 75 people and destroyed about 2500 homes. And the 2009 Black Saturday bushfire in Victoria killed 173 people and destroyed about 4500 buildings.

So massive bushfires are nothing new in this land of "droughts and flooding rain". What is relatively new, of course, is climate cult hysteria and the readiness of grant-hungry researchers, headline-hunting MPs, and virtue-signalling business people to attribute every extreme weather event to man-made carbon dioxide emissions. And naturally, those talking about imminent threats are more newsworthy than those saying that there's "nothing much to see here".

Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall has said that “people are already dying as a result of climate change”. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall has said that “people are already dying as a result of climate change”. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

A few months back, the director of the Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Professor Andy Pitman, told a climate forum that "this may not be what you expect to hear but as far as the climate scientists know, there is no link between climate change and drought … and if you look at the Bureau of Meteorology data over the whole of the last 100 years there's been no trend in data … no drying trend in the last 100 years and that's an expression of how variable the Australian rainfall climate is".

Still, despite this, there's been a veritable conga-line of politicians claiming that the drought-caused fire emergency in some parts of Australia is due to climate change; as if increasing CO2 concentrations were to blame for lightning strikes and arson, and as if closing coal fired power stations would somehow douse the flames.

Naturally, the climate-change-causes-fires-so-we-must-act-now brigade included Anthony Albanese (despite his latter-day conversion to coal exports), Penny Wong, Adam Bandt, and Malcolm Turnbull (who, let's never forget, crossed the floor to vote with Labor for Kevin Rudd's ETS in 2010). Zali Steggall, a somewhat older echo of Greta Thunberg, has said that "people are already dying as a result of climate change".

But the climate-change-is-responsible crew also included the federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, the NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, and the NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean. Presumably, these Coalition ministers would rather just "go with the flow" than risk a Twitter storm by pointing out that it's wrong to link any particular extreme weather event to climate change.

 

While warning against "catastrophism", even Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded that climate change was a factor.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor's careful elaboration to the Madrid UN climate conference of what Australia is doing to limit emissions, the Climate Action Network's 2020 Climate Change Performance Index ranked us the world's "worst performing country on climate change policy". This can't be based on what we are actually doing - because unlike the big promisors, we really will meet our emissions reductions targets and have had the world's largest recent expansion of renewable energy - but the fact that other countries are making extravagant pledges to do much more in the future (despite almost universally failing to deliver their previous commitments).

It would be a lot easier to take the climate-change-causes-fires alarmists seriously if they were actually doing something themselves to fight the fires; or were demanding that we move to nuclear energy (the only emissions-free source of 24/7 power).

Two things are clear though: first, as the source of scarcely one per cent of the world's emissions, nothing we do can make the slightest difference to any CO2 caused climate change (but it can make an enormous difference to prices and jobs here in Australia); and second, it doesn't matter how much we do, it will never be enough for the climate change true believers.