New South Wales Environment Minister, Matt Kean, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation “We are in the middle of the worst drought in living memory; this is the second hottest year on record … Yesterday, smoke was causing some of the worst air pollution in Sydney that we’ve ever seen – this is climate change”. Of course, the people in the government who have previously been staunch climate change deniers came out to damp down such talk. The chief idiot of the National Party, Michael McCormack piped up and said “Certainly, climate change is a factor, there is no question, but also it is important to note that most of the fires have been caused by ‘little lucifers’. The latter epithet was in reference to juvenile arsonists. It is difficult to understand how anyone with a modicum of intelligence could make such a demonstrably stupid claim, given that data is available on the causes of bushfires. However, the facts rarely get a look-in when the buffoons of the Coalition are embarrassed by reality. In fact, only 13% of fires are deliberately lit, although another 37% are ‘suspicious’, and another 35% are accidental. Fires which are ‘suspicious’ are suspected to have been deliberately lit or caused by someone breaking fire bans. The remainder are caused by lightning strikes, discharge from power lines or electric fences, exhaust from internal combustion engines (cars, trains, lawnmowers), sparks from electrical equipment (chainsaws, angle-grinders, welding equipment), unextinguished campfires, or spot fires ahead of fire fronts, among numerous other causes. Almost all bushfires in remote areas are caused by lightning strikes, especially in ‘dry thunderstorms’ (i.e. where there is very little or no rain)2. McCormack’s assertion that kids are to blame for ‘most’ bushfires indicates he believes that these devious children have slowly been lengthening the fire season, just as climate change increases the temperature3. Devious little sausages, aren’t they?
On top of McCormack’s idiocy, the New South Wales Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell, has stated that the link between climate change and the bushfires is a “philosophical debate about what’s caused these bushfires and drought”. Following this interview, her office released a statement ‘clarifying’ her comments4. This clarification was presumably in response to a ‘You said WHAT?’ from further up the political food chain. This clarification included the statement that she believed “climate change is a serious issue and something we as a government need to address” and that she “misspoke using the word philosophical debate, rather than ‘policy debate’”4. Her office would have been better off if it had omitted the last bit, as it is equally as ludicrous to state that the connection between the fires, the drought and climate change is a ‘policy debate’. Where do they get these people?