In the past three months, we have lost billions of native plants and animals, millions of hectares of bushland, and over a thousand properties. But this bushfire season is far from over.
As someone who accepts the knowledge put forward by 99% of climate scientists, I can clearly see that climate change is exacerbating the occurrence of wildfires around the world, and their tenacity. However, not everyone is able to see this.
At no fault of their own, many Australians have been continuously bombarded with climate lies and half truths by the Murdoch press. This has confused the national narrative around Climate Change.
Damien Cave’s latest article in the New York Times brought a tear to my eye when I read it this morning.
Many firefighters working the smoky hills south of Sydney hesitated to state their views on climate change this week (some said senior leaders had told them to avoid the issue). But they were quick to argue for more back burning,” Cave states. “Similarly, in Bairnsdale, Tina Moon, whose farm was devastated by the fires, said she was mostly furious about the government’s failure to clear the land around her property. ‘I don’t think its climate change,’ she said.”
Reading this breaks my heart in two, as it means that the message from the Murdoch press, and other right-wing climate denying conservatives is starting to cut through. That message is that climate change is not making the fire season worse, that there have not been enough hazard reduction burns completed (primarily due to Greens protesting) and that the government has failed to clear the land of any “fire fuel material.”
This is just not true. The Greens actively support hazard reduction burns, as it clearly states on their website, and the REAL reason why many Rural Fire Service volunteers have found it difficult to prepare for the fire season is due to the fact the QLD fire season began in July this year, and drier conditions across Australia brought on by Climate Change made some unsafe to complete.
Why do people still deny Climate Change?
I think there are three main reasons why the Murdoch press has been able to convince Australians that Climate Change is not a pressing issue and that Greta Thunberg is simply causing “needless anxiety.”
1) It is difficult to believe something you do not understand
Science is complex. It takes three years to study the basic concepts, and this complexity makes it difficult to share facts quickly and easily.
You cannot explain scientific concepts via memes, emojis or in within the character limit of a tweet. There are complicated names for entire concepts and things, and the thought of learning the periodic table off by heart is enough to put almost anyone to sleep.
Climate denial on the other hand is easy to explain, and simple to understand. All the media need is for one scientist out of thousands to come forward and make one statement denying climate change. This will then be featured on the front page of a popular newspaper, and it will get more attention that one hundred peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that each took years to write.
The issue is that a qualified scientist is always scared to say just one statement, as they know there are many different complexities to every concept, and do not want to be inaccurate.
2) There is no DIRECT link
Australians cannot see a direct link between Climate Change and the current bushfires, or other global natural disasters because there is not just one direct link.
There are multiple indirect links.
These links are intertwined within the complex scientific structures that make up this incredible planet that we are lucky enough to live on. I don’t understand them, and you probably don’t either, which is why we need to trust 99% of climate scientists who say it does!
We trust science when it comes to our phones, our appliances, and engineers that make hundreds of thousands of dollars consulting for huge multi-national corporations.
So, why can’t we trust the scientists that study our Climate?
3) It is an inconvenient truth, as we need to make sacrifices
It’s convenient to trust the science used to create a smartphone – which mind you has around 30 different elements of the periodic table within it – as that makes your life easier, and more enjoyable. It’s also convenient to trust science when you are a CEO hiring an engineer, as the scientific proof will help you increase your profits and gain foreign investment.
What about when you feel sick? Yes, it is convenient to trust science when you feel sick, or contract a disease, because you need to get better, and medical science can do that.
However, when it comes to trusting science that could make you pay extra taxes because the planet is warming, or ask you to stop eating meat and dairy due to harmful agricultural practices, this is inconvenient and more difficult to accept as truth.
It is much easier to believe a convenient truth, than a inconvenient one, especially when science is already so difficult to understand.
So, what can we do?
The saddest part is that this message of climate denial is not just resonating with Morrisons ‘Quiet Australians’ that voted him into office, or those who enjoy the capitalist exploits a liberal government can bring, but members of our rural communities, those who have lost their homes in these devastating fires.
Billions of animals dead, millions of hectares burnt, yet many politicians and mainstream media sources are still trying to argue with the inconvenient truth that is Climate Change.
Whilst admitting that climate change is real, and deciding to reduce carbon emissions will not directly “fix” the current bushfire crisis, it is necessary. If we do not work together as one planet to reduce our global emissions NOW, these fires are only the beginning of the devastation that will occur.
Please join me tomorrow night if you are in Sydney at 5.30pm at Town Hall, to call on our government to take Climate Action NOW.