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Issue #1615      October 23, 2013

Editorial

Blazing stupidity

“BLAZING STUPIDITY”, that was The Sunday Telegraph’s front-page headline, in its “Red October bushfire special edition”(20-10-2013). “Did Defence exercise start catastrophic bushfire?” The Defence Department and NSW Rural Fire Service are investigating whether the firing of explosives in exercises on its training grounds near Lithgow sparked one of the devastating bushfires. The fire is reported as having started on Defence Department land. Having taken a brief swipe at the stupidity of the military, the Telegraph moves on with the rest of its sensationalising “coverage”, including almost a page devoted to blaming Greens policies for “igniting flames”.

It is climate change denier, Miranda Devine, at her worst. She makes no mention of the military firing explosives on a total fire ban day. Her target is the Greens. “Nothing could be more despicably opportunistic than Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt’s tweet on Thursday, using the latest fire emergency in the NSW Blue Mountains to score a political point over the Coalition’s climate-change policy,” Devine claims. The tweet did nothing more than point out that the Coalition government’s climate change strategy could lead to more devastating bushfires.

What Bandt says is scientifically established fact, which should be heeded by government and requires urgent action. It is Devine who despicably and opportunistically uses Bandt’s genuine and legitimate concerns to deny the impact of human activity on climate change and the extreme conditions that have been fuelling the NSW bushfires. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, leaves no doubts as to the impact that human activity is having on the climate and the rapidity of that change. The IPCC warns of more extreme weather events. (See Guardian, “Climate change red alert”, #1614, 16-10-2013)

Devine is in total denial. “We cannot control the weather. The only thing we have control over is how much fuel is available to those fires. And here is where greenies are culpable. It is their continuing opposition to properly managing the fuel loads in our bush that has turned bushfires in recent times into unstoppable infernos.”

Of course we cannot control the weather, but no one has said we can. As for her claims about the Greens, Devine shows no interest in listening to, let alone reporting on, what the world’s scientists are saying or discussing what the Greens really say. The NSW Greens have a comprehensive and scientifically based Bush Fire Risk Management Policy. This policy includes planning of hazard reduction; planning of housing sites to avoid development in risk prone areas; community education and awareness; research; and proper funding of all fire fighting authorities. The Greens state: “While recognising that controlled burning is only one form of bush fire risk reduction, The Greens have not been responsible for restricting its use.” (The full policy is at nsw.greens.org.au/policies/bushfires)

The Defence Department certainly carried out an act of “blazing stupidity” which, if responsible for the Lithgow bushfire, requires criminal charges against those responsible. But The Sunday Telegraph is just as culpable and irresponsible, and deserving of the same accusation, for fuelling the flames of climate change denial. Hidden behind its promotion of climate change deniers lies its (and Murdoch’s) support for the mining corporations and big corporate polluters. We can and must act now and shoulder our responsibility as a nation by doing out utmost to arrest climate change for the sake of survival of human and other life on our planet. To do otherwise is “blazing stupidity” and suicidal.

Devine could have better used her space raising the Greens’ policy points for public discussion or directing some of her venom at NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell and the stupidity of his government’s $70 million in cuts to firefighting services. Fire Brigade Employees Union members are fighting to keep their fire stations open. She might have supported them in their efforts. Alongside the hundreds of volunteer fire fighters and other members of the community, they are putting their lives on the line, to save lives and property. They are demonstrating the true character of humanity and deserve our utmost support and gratitude for their selfless support for the community.

Next article – Compulsory voting for WA council elections

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