Bushfires burn holes in climate change denial

Submitted by AWL on 8 January, 2020 - 8:51 Author: Janet Burstall and Riki Lane

The current fire season, and drought, in Australia are expected to continue for months.

When the fires do end, rainforests and animal habitats may never regenerate fully, and animal populations may never recover.

The seeds of a socialist political response to climate change might grow out of the opposition to the government, if climate activists can develop a clear set of demands, and broaden support for a just transition.

The world has seen the devastating bushfires in Australia, and the humiliation of Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his failures to lead a government response.

Lowlights for his public perception have been going on holiday to Hawaii after the fires started and trying to force fire victims to shake his hand for the cameras. Derision for him on both social media and mass media has been extensive.

More significant for socialist politics is that Morrison, as a climate change sceptic, and along with Murdoch’s media outlets, initially claimed that the same kind of bushfires had happened before. In reality the geographical scope, destruction of native animals (estimated at 500 million so far), early arrival in the summer season, and ongoing nature of these fires, are unprecedented, and clearly linked to climate change by scientists and fire services leaders.

Morrison has been exposed for rejecting requests in 2017 from the National Aerial Firefighting Centre for funding to increase its capability, and ignoring 2019 warnings from heads of state firefighting agencies.

He has been forced to change his position on a number of emergency measures. After rejecting calls to compensate volunteer firefighters, he agreed in late December to provide funding.

After claiming until late December that the state governments did not need assistance from the armed forces, he announced on 4 January that military equipment and 3000 army reservists would be sent to fight fires, without first informing the heads of the state fire services.

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