Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Australian Fires: Of Course It's Climate Change Except That It Really Isn't

Richard Flanagan (a novelist with whom I'm not familiar), in the NYT:
  More than one-third of Australians are estimated to be affected by the fires. By a significant and increasing majority, Australians want action on climate change, and they are now asking questions about the growing gap between the Morrison government’s ideological fantasies and the reality of a dried-out, rapidly heating, burning Australia.
   The situation is eerily reminiscent of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, when the ruling apparatchiks were all-powerful but losing the fundamental, moral legitimacy to govern. In Australia today, a political establishment, grown sclerotic and demented on its own fantasies, is facing a monstrous reality which it has neither the ability nor the will to confront.
   Mr. Morrison may have a massive propaganda machine in the Murdoch press and no opposition, but his moral authority is bleeding away by the hour. On Thursday, after walking away from a pregnant woman asking for help, he was forced to flee the angry, heckling residents of a burned-out town. A local conservative politician described his own leader’s humiliation as “the welcome he probably deserved.”
   As Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, once observed, the collapse of the Soviet Union began with the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. In the wake of that catastrophe, “the system as we knew it became untenable,” he wrote in 2006. Could it be that the immense, still-unfolding tragedy of the Australian fires may yet prove to be the Chernobyl of climate crisis?
   I suspect--or at least I hope--that it's clear by now that if any such event were cited as evidence--much less, absolutely conclusive evidence that could only be denied by a demented idealogue--against global warming, the powers that be would come down like the fist of God. In that case, we would be reminded that weather is not climate. Such reminders are much fewer and farther between when the inference is politically correct. 
   Next comes the strategic ambiguity phase: we know for sure that the Australian fires are, in fact, caused by humans!
   Except what that means is: people started/set the fires--some accidentally, but many intentionally.
   Also, contrary to the par-for-the-course propaganda, it's been hotter and larger areas have burnt. (Though, of course, trends are more significant than individual events.)
   Of course it does seem that we've been in a warming trend, and that could well raise the probability of a drought and make it worse, which would tend to make fires more common and worse. We don't know to what extent humans have contributed to the warming. So it's not impossible that AGW is significant, so not impossible that it's contributed to the fires.
   But that shit above, from that Flanagan dude, is hysterical bullshit. Unfortunately, it's more-or-less par for the contemporary course.


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