I just returned from a bucket-list trip to Australia, during the height of the bush fire season, and found the bush was not the only thing burning. The left-leaning news media’s hair is ablaze as well.
TV news channels covered the fires 24/7 with only an occasional break to promote President Trump’s impeachment or to bash Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison for vacationing during the fire crisis. Government officials jostled for position in front of the cameras day and night next to the ubiquitous deaf interpreters signing feverishly (why weren’t they obsoleted with the advent of closed-captioning?).
Coverage of the brave firefighters and neighbors who gave their lives trying to save towns, farms and homes from the vicious fires, was absolutely in order. There are many heroes and much destruction. But the elite leftist globalists just could not pass up the opportunity to blast the “climate change” siren over the top.
The state of Victoria on the southeast corner of Australia was particularly hard hit, as was part of New South Wales south of Sydney. We traveled extensively through NSW and Queensland, the adjacent state to the north. While we saw some evidence of burned rural areas, we did not run into any live fires, large burnouts, or damage to buildings. The fire damage we saw actually looked pretty minimal – relatively small areas of grass and undergrowth burned, but with new green grass filling in; a few trees destroyed, but most only lightly charred at the bottoms with indications that the trees remained alive and healthy. And we saw abundant wildlife and birds.
While there was damage to animals, exaggeration was the order of the day in the news, with reports that “up to a billion animals have died“, conjuring up images of stacks of smoldering koalas and kangaroos. That number must include insects. We learned about some “koala hospitals” where people bring in the cute little critters who have been injured, but they care for dozens of animals, not thousands.
Driving through the small towns in the bush and talking to the locals was illustrative. One retired small business owner said, “This is nothing new, we have had drought in this area all my life.” He blamed “the government and the greenies” for policy changes over the last decade that prohibit preventative burning and the clearing of dead brush for the buildup of fuel that, once lit, is very hard to stay ahead of.
For example, one law mandates that for each tree removed from a yard, even dead ones, nine new trees must be planted. If you have a small yard that won’t accommodate nine trees, or if you have a lot of dead trees, forget it.
Piers Akerman, a member of the NSW Rural Fire Service for six decades, wrote a scathing editorial in the Sydney Telegraph, saying the effect of “climate change” on bush fires is so small as to be immeasurable, blaming instead the government red tape that consumes much of the time and money that could be applied to managing fires. According to Akerman, “we’ve had at least 57 inquiries into bushfires since 1939 and each one has highlighted the need to reduce the amount of fuel that naturally accumulates in the bush. That’s a fact.”
Akerman continued, “We know that Aboriginals burned this country for a number of reasons. Farmers used to use fire to preserve their properties and livestock, too, until the bureaucrats and activists got in the way.”
I talked to another fire official from NSW who confirmed Akerman’s observations, and met an American fire official on our flight back to the USA who had been flown to Australia with a large group at taxpayer expense to “fight the fires”. She sure didn’t look or sound like she had been battling any deathly out-of-control blazes. My guess is she was ornamental at best.
The bush fires of 2019-2020 and the persistent drought conditions in Australia are not to be taken lightly. Lives and property have been lost to the frighteningly virulent fires.
Fortunately, it rained much of the time we were there, and the fire threat was greatly reduced. One small town in the Blue Mountains was very worried about the lake that is the source of their public water, but it healed from 9% capacity to 29% almost overnight, a two-year supply. Flooding replaced fires as the main concern in some areas, and we saw rivers and lakes looking pretty healthy. The worst of the extended drought appears to be over.
Closer to home, our own Bureau of Land Management has been following similar fire protocols, as California has learned. It is only a matter of time before the dead undergrowth in the beetle-killed forests of Montana explode into a deadly fire on a scale that could dwarf the Aussie bush fires.
Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side
I am the god of hell fire and I bring you:
Fire, I’ll take you to burn.
Fire, I’ll take you to learn.
I’ll see you burn!