The devastating fires in Australia were caused by humans and the application of wrong policies, not by so-called climate change, said American experts.
Decades of “green” policies have made Australia’s fields prone to rapid fire in low rainfall periods, said Patrick Michaels and Myron Ebell, senior researcher and director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, respectively.
Michaels and Ebell’s explanation, recently published in the Washington Examiner, contrasts with the theory—widely propagated by the mainstream media—that the cause of fires is climate change.
“Government decisions, made under pressure from environmental groups, have made what would normally be big fires into hellish conflagrations,” the experts said, comparing the similarities between the Australian and California fires.
Vegetation ready to burn
Experts said that in these places residents live around vegetation that each year “dries out enough to burn sky high—with or without climate change.”
The rainy seasons are relatively short and most of the year there is “beach weather.”
Thus, the place is “spectacularly green” when it rains and completely dry when it stops. When the rainfall is high, as it was in recent years in Australia, the vegetation becomes even thicker, only to provide even more fuel for wildfires.
That’s why both camp managers and natives understand that “unless we burn it on purpose before the vegetation overgrows, it will burn us, our homes, and, tragically, our towns,” said Michaels and Ebell in the Examiner article.
However, environmental groups have been pushing since the middle of the last century for a reduction or direct ban on intentional burning (since fire releases carbon dioxide).
In California they are largely already banned, and in Australia something similar is happening, where burning is allowed but not enough, which, according to the authors, “ensuring that disaster is always just around the corner.”
“Australia has been ready to explode for years,” they said in the article.
By 2015, David Packham, former director of Australia’s National Rural Fire Research Center, had warned that the application of this “misguided green ideology” had led to levels of forest fuel—that is, plant matter with the capacity to ignite and burn when exposed to a heat source—rising to such levels that they are the most dangerous in thousands of years.
The climate change fallacy
Michaels and Ebell explained that alterations in rainfall in Australia due to supposed climate change are very difficult to detect because of the large variation from year to year.
In other words, after an extremely dry year, an inversely proportional rainy season can follow, as shown in a graph recently published by Jim Steele, who used to run the Sierra Nevada Field Campus of San Francisco State University.
In Australia, a major fire was recorded in 1962 that led to a decades-long campaign of intense controlled burns.
Thus, from 1963 to about 1985, wildfires affected very little vegetation.
However, Michaels and Ebell note that as pressure from environmental groups to suppress prescribed fires increased, more and more territory in Western Australia was paradoxically burned.
The danger of alarmist green policies
What happened in Australia is similar to what happened in California, where green and left-wing policies have advanced in recent years.
In addition to the abolition of prescribed burns, these policies include drastic reductions in timber harvests in forests and significant restrictions on livestock grazing.
“It is very convenient for alarmist greens to blame the fires of Australia and California on global warming. In reality, the policies they themselves advocate are the culprits,” the authors concluded.