Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Australian Bushfires

The dramatic and shocking scenes of the Australian bushfires could not fail to have moved anyone watching them on the news. This piece from Anthony Main of the CWI's Australian section, the Socialist Party looks at the politics behind the disaster.

The death toll from Victoria's bushfires, in south eastern Australia, currently stands at 170 and could rise – this is Australia’s worst natural disaster, much worse than the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 when 47 people died.

The dead include retired Channel 9 newsreader Brian Naylor and his wife. Dozens more people are suffering from serious burns and smoke inhalation. On top of the tragic deaths and injuries, more than 750 homes have been destroyed and at least 330,000 hectares of land has been burnt. Residents have compared the scenes to the aftermath of a nuclear war.

The bushfire disaster has shown some of the best examples of human solidarity coupled with some of the worst examples of the failure of a profit driven system. Heroic stories of ordinary people saving the lives of strangers are just starting to emerge. One off duty nurse has told of having to administer first aid to burns victims in a makeshift shelter because help failed to arrive.

Temperatures across eastern Australia soared into the high 40’s (degrees celsius) over the weekend. The heat was unbearable in the urban centres but it was like hell on earth in rural areas where one resident described it as “raining flames”. At one stage more than 400 fires were blazing in every part of Victoria and almost 60 fires were also burning across New South Wales.

The drought of recent years, and higher temperatures due to climate change, has led to a marked increase in the amount of bush fires. Victoria has recorded its lowest rainfall levels on record which has meant that bush undergrowth is bone dry. While there is no doubt that the drought has contributed to the bushfires, it is also true that much of the devastation could have been prevented.

The State and Federal governments have attempted to lay the blame for the fires on arsonists. While a few of the fires may well have been started by ‘fire bugs’ the vast majority were a result of the extreme conditions. The question is did the State and Federal governments do everything in their power to mitigate the worst effects of the fires?

For years rural communities like those in Gippsland, Kinglake and Bendigo have been hit hard by cuts to services. It has not just been cuts to health, education and transport but fire fighting and emergency services budgets have also been slashed. There is a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and emergency services staff in rural areas and this cost people their lives in a time of crisis.

At a national level government spending on bushfire research is less than $2 million a year. In Victoria the Labor State government only allocates a measly $252 million a year for rural fire prevention. For a country covered with bush and prone to extreme weather this is totally inadequate.

Cuts and Lack of Investment
On top of the cuts and lack of investment in prevention, rural fire fighting relies almost entirely on unpaid volunteers. The Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) website states that the “CFA is one of the world’s largest volunteer-based emergency services. There are around 58,000 volunteer members supported by over 400 career fire fighters and officers and more than 700 career support and administrative staff.”

While the work of these volunteers is nothing short of amazing, the idea that less than 2% of those who fight fires in Victoria are full time professionals is a sick joke. There needs to be a massive expansion of full time professional fire fighting staff. These skilled workers need to be paid decent wages to reflect the important work that they do. Those who do the job on a part time or casual basis should also be paid proper wages.

Many of the lives, homes and natural environment that have been lost could have been saved if proper resources were made available. Blaming arsonists is just a diversionary tactic by the government. The main reason that money is not made available is because, at the moment, decisions are being made on the basis of dollars and not sense. A system based on the short term, and geared to profit, is incapable of mitigating the worst effects of bush fires. In fact capitalism has made this disaster far worse than it needed to be.

That is why if we really want to reduce the risk of death and destruction from natural disaster, it is urgent we fight to put an end to the profit driven system of capitalism. We need a system based on human solidarity, co-operation and democracy, the types of qualities that working people have instinctively shown during this disaster.

19 comments:

skidmarx said...

Private property rather than profit seems to be the problem here. As Germaine Greer pointed out on Radio 4 this morning, and was extensively pointed out during the last wave of bushfires, it is the prevention of wildfires which makes them so serious when they occur. She pointed out specifically that since British colonisation, the build up of undergrowth in the forests has created a dangerous source of fuel.

Dave Riley said...

I'm not sure if the SP here are on the exact same page as the rest of Australia on this issue.Maybe they should study Climate Change with a bit more thoroughness than the way they've handled the topic in this article.

This primarily is a climate disaster and that disaster has roots , of course, in the capitalist system.

Sure services have been cut in regard to the CFA and these communities but, the main thing to note is that nothing could have stopped these fires.

That's the most devastating aspect. We have the death toll to prove the point that people who knew what was at stake as the inferno bore down on them, still perished.These people weren't fools or being careless.I'd guess that most could have died before the fire reached them, because the fire front would advance behind a massive radiation envelope driven by searing winds. This is how the fires jumped valleys.

You only have to look at these towns with twisted and melted corrugated iron to note that this was a sort of organic Ground Zero in action.

But in my state,Queensland, the Northern Tropics are flooded at the exact same time as Victoria burns. 60 % of the state is a declared disaster area because of the floods.

Bushfire management is complicated by the fact that the Australian bush has evolved to burn. Eucalyptus oil, for instance, found in every gum tree, is a powerful combustible. As Greer says , the indigenous population managed the landscape with fire but management can only go so far in way of amelioration when the droughts are more frequent and summer temperatures are rising.

The other factor is that the bush has been rolled right back by farmland -- so there's not an exact equivalent in the way she suggests. Nor is Australia, " a country covered with bush " as the SP says.

Land clearing has been massive in the past 200 odd years.For instance, in 1869, 88% of Victoria was forested (around 20 million ha.) but by 1987, 35% of Victoria was forested (around 8 million ha.)Today it would be even less.

My relative's farm in Yakandandah was spared yesterday by a dropping of the wind, but there's every likelihood that as conditions change that the fires could flare up again and the whole district will be at risk as it was on Sunday night.

As for the CFA...Like the Surf Life Saving Clubs across Australia -- the Country Fire Authority is a remarkable exercise in volunteerism. While it may seem politically proper to call for it to be professionalised that's not quite how the thing works as it is an exercise in community organising on a massive scale.

These volunteers should be given a wage --for their training time and call outs -- but the motivation is deeper than renumeration and it cannot simply be reduced to dollar value.

Nonetheless, there is a crisis in the CFA as a direct result of the impact of neoliberalism where familes are working longer hours and have less free time to invest in their local CFA brigade(Australia has some of the longest working hours in the Western World). More than likely these same people are wearing a massive mortgage in places, now burnt out, like Lake Mountain and Wittlesea.This is especially the case in regard to executive positions like brigade captains. That's where the administration crisis really kicks in.

While there is sure to be a lot of chatter about the fires in way of future strategies, it's worth while noting that every time the bush is burnt, plant regrowth calls on up to 20% of available precipitation and ground water for the next 20 years to sustain the growth. This also means that less water freed from the catchment and the already thirsty river systems flow with reduced volume to any dam or irrigation network -- and the massive water crisis in Victoria (as all over Australia)worsens still more.

So this is a very vicious circle in way of the long term impact of Climate Changes.

See also:Meltdown, fires as climate emergency hits Australia: Urgent action required

Phil BC said...

Hi Dave, at first I didn't get your point about climate change, but reading your contribution more thoroughly shows up the climate complexity of the consequences. But generally speaking, are the left in Australia on the same page on this one?

Anonymous said...

Looks like most of the left are on the same page as SP.

http://www.sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1920&Itemid=125

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/feb2009/fire-f09.shtml

Perhaps its just the DSP and the bosses who are in the "nothing we could have done camp"

Dave Riley said...

The reference to Socialist Alternative also raises the same question as does the SP piece: the failure to address the over riding issue of Climate Change and chart its political as well as ecological significance. The left isn't greened up -- in fact it tends to be schematically blind to the significance of the issue in terms of campaigns and analysis.

I think it's the same in the UK too as far as I can judge.

Any left that fails that test loses a essential engagement with everyday political reality, a broad audience and organising potential. This isn't about counterposing class to climate nor of ignoring the over riding impact of capitalism on our existence.

I didn't say that the SP wasn't on the same page as the rest of the Oz left. I suggested it was isolating itself from a major political dynamic within the whole population -- the impact of climate change -- by failing to truly note its relevance.

The far left here, outside my own sector of alignment, simply fails to aggressively address that issue in terms of campaigning and the like.

The weekend before these fires saw a major Convergence in Canberra that established a national climate change movement with an agenda set for the year ahead. This was a major step forward in environment politics

We occupy its anti capitalist left wing along with a few other green lefts sprinkled across orgs , grassroots committees and academia.

So what I'm saying is that the far left has a choice to either engage with this issue or default on it. And while everything the SP or SAlt says about capitalism and spending is true, the argument becomes an either/ or one of displacing (perhaps inadvertently) the significance of the climate issue -- as though climate change is just another capitalist excuse for state irresponsibility.

I've been in bushfires and I know what they are like and I suggest that this one like so many others was simply unstoppable. Firefighting only really contains fires and shifts their paths. Conditions -- fuel and weather primarily -- decide when they die out.

Such is the awesome power of Nature.

And fires are an ecological reality in the Australian bush as the flora has evolved to burn.

On the question of arsonists -- the latest research does suggest that half of bush fires are deliberately lit. But what about the other half? This is the forensic complication of humans living and working in the bush because it is so very easy to spark an inferno like this: cigarette ash, broken bottle focusing sunlight, lightning strike, car backfire, etc.

This reminds me not so much about handy 'excuses' but the sort of humanity versus nature arguments that Marx and Engels so acutely explored. A relationship that has been expanded and updated so well in the works of John Bellamy Foster.

So this is indeed a Marxist issue that is more than simply a question of class. To not see that and explore that dialectic, only causes your analysis to be shallower.

Already trade unions are taking up collections on the job and sponsoring fund raising efforts to support the devastated families made homeless and losing members in these fires. This isn't nationalism as the SAlt article seems to suggest .This is solidarity as all working people can relate to this devastation.

So my point is that this is overwhelmingly a climate change issue unfolding in the context of capitalism. These fires, in effect, more so than the ones that burnt Canberra a few years back, absolutely put climate change as one of the major issues in this country-- alongside that of the economy. This occurs when all governments here pander to the mining companies, pulp mills, big agri business, and the like and fail resolutely to seriously address the issue.

There is a view on the far left which argues that environmental issues can be accommodated under capitalism and that , in effect as it is a bias,green politics is anathema to class consciousness.

OK. Fine. Dream on comrades.But I suggest these fires tell us that we're somewhere where Luxembourg said we had clear choices between socialism or climatic annihilation.

The Sentinel said...

My God you even manage to politicise a bush fire and drag Marx into it.

( Besides, like so many others, climate change is just another unproved theory. But it has great political capital and immense scope for massive state control - the UK are already setting up a database to spy on their citizens travels- and as such it should treated with complete scientific impartiality, rather then political zeal.

Indeed there is growing evidence to disprove any such notion of significant human cause. Just for instance the fact that its happening to mars too:

"Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human-induced—cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory."

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html

"Scientists have suspected in recent years that Mars might be undergoing some sort of global warming. New data points to the possibility it is emerging from an ice age."

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mars_ice-age_031208.html )


But something possibly of a very political origin that maybe you should be aware of, or if you are aware then you should certainly be very concerned about is this:

"AUSTRALIA has been singled out as a target for "forest jihad" by a group of Islamic extremists urging Muslims to deliberately light bushfires as a weapon of terror.

US intelligence channels earlier this year identified a website calling on Muslims in Australia, the US, Europe and Russia to "start forest fires", claiming "scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels' forests when they do the same to our lands".
The website, posted by a group called the Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network, argues in Arabic that lighting fires is an effective form of terrorism justified in Islamic law under the "eye for an eye" doctrine.

"Imagine if, after all the losses caused by such an event, a jihadist organisation were to claim responsibility for the forest fires," the website says. "You can hardly begin to imagine the level of fear that would take hold of people in the United States, in Europe, in Russia and in Australia."

With the nation heading into another hot, dry summer, Australian intelligence agencies are treating the possibility that bushfires could be used as a weapon of terrorism as a serious concern.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Federal Government remained "vigilant against such threats", warning that anyone caught lighting a fire as a weapon of terror would feel the wrath of anti-terror laws."

http://www.theage.com.au/national/islam-group-urges-forest-fire-jihad-20080906-4b53.html?page=-1


That was reported on September 7, 2008.

Red Wombat said...

The Socialist Alliance has put out a statement on the fires as well:

http://www.socialist-alliance.org/page.php?page=823

Victorian fire tragedy highlights scale of global warming emergency and need for real action

Socialist Alliance statement
February 11, 2009

Like all people across Australia Socialist Alliance members have been devastated by the Victorian bushfire tragedy, the greatest disaster in peace-time Australian history.

We express our condolences to and solidarity with all who have lost family, friends and homes in this shocking holocaust, made worse by the possibility that some of these fires were deliberately lit.

We salute the efforts of Victorian Country Fire Authority workers and all volunteers who have sacrificed time, effort and security and done everything in their power to halt the ravages of the fires. Emergency service workers battled for up to 30 hours without sleep trying to control the infernos, help the injured, and attend to the thousands left homeless.

The Victorian Labor government has called a Royal Commission into the tragedy. If that commission listens carefully to firefighters, emergency personnel and bush communities it will learn many truths, including that emergency services are severely underfunded, fire breaks and forest access tracks should be better maintained and high-risk areas better patrolled.

The commission must also ask why, in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave, after years of drought and predictions of extreme climate events, little seems to have been done to prepare for a disaster that was waiting to happen.

However, the commission will be a waste of time if it refuses to confront the underlying cause of the Victorian bushfire disaster—accelerating global warming and climate disruption.

The reality of climate emergency, which has been explained for years by eminent scientists, has been denied or downplayed by the mainstream politicians, or “treated” with completely inadequate policies like the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

The record temperatures in Melbourne and in many parts of southeastern Australia last Saturday cannot be explained simply by natural variability. The hottest 14 years on record have occurred in the last 20 years.

Far from being a “one-in-a-thousand-years event” claimed by Victorian premier John Brumby, bushfires like those in Victoria have been multiplying as average temperatures rise across eastern Australia. Extreme fire weather situations of mid-40s heat and strong winds have been increasing in frequency over the last ten years, and will continue to do so as climate change worsens.

In the words of a Bureau of Meteorology colleague quoted by University of Adelaide climate scientist Professor Barry Brook: “Climate change is now becoming such a strong contributor to these hitherto unimaginable events that the language starts to change from one of ‘climate change increased the chances of an event’ to ‘without climate change this event could not have occurred’.

The Socialist Alliance calls for greater resources for fire fighting and prevention, and appropriate land management, in the wake of this tragedy. However, the best and bravest fire-fighting in the world will be impotent before infernos like those that devastated country Victoria last weekend unless underlying causes are tackled.

Along with a serious effort at all levels of government to assess and mitigate the impact of global warming on our bush and country towns, Australia needs to invest billions of dollars in a “green New Deal” to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and to lead the way internationally by following the lead of programs like Al Gore’s call for 100% renewable energy by 2020.

The dreadful Victorian bushfires—like the disastrous floods in Queensland—are a dire warning that government cannot afford to ignore what the climate scientists tell them or to “balance” their views against those of the fossil fuel lobby. Global warming underlies this awful tragedy and the continued ignoring of scientific opinion about the climate emergency can only contribute to more such disasters.

Information: Sue Bolton 0413 377 978

Phil BC said...

As I was watching the fires on TV I was wondering how long it would be before some nutter started claiming it was the work of Islamic terrorists. I see I didn't have to wait that long.

Robert said...

Well how do you know these Muslim are not from mars, I could have sworn I saw a load of them bording on the ice shelf on mars last week, on the other hand I had a few pints as well.

skidmarx said...

Of course when there are fires in Indonesia, it'll be Christian terrorists behind it.

Dave Riley said...

One final point on the question of class.

The Australian suburban sprawl now advances as relentlessly "into the bush" as so often the only housing many working people can afford is located on the urban periphery. To some degree that also gets distributed across regional townships -- such as some of the towns that were destroyed in these fires -- Marysville is an example. A town like Kinglake, still very much under threat, as far as I knew it when I was working on Melbourne's northern edge is part of the peripheral mortgage belt of Melbourne despite its bush locale.

Some of my workmates were living there and paying off their houses with as much overtime as they could muster.

In Sydney this quest for affordable housing is colonising the Blue Mountains as a new urban hub despite the fact that these new semi rural suburbs are over two hours drive from the Sydney CBD.

Nonetheless people will commute these large distances to their place of work for the sake of being able to afford home ownership.Up until the nineties,(before urban renewal schemes were initiated) this phenomenon was so pervasive that cities like Brisbane was becoming something like a doughnut, losing its population to shires at its periphery.In fact Brisbane's population fell for a time. The fastest growing centres in Australia were a succession of outer, semi rural suburbs.

So thats' the interface with the bush that complicates associated desires to live with nature.

Obviously all these communities have fire management practices in place: off season burning, undergrowth and roof gutter clearing, etc. These communities are always on bush fire alert.

This of course complicates the whole Nature/Society interface in various ways. But to give you an idea of how potent that can be, I was in Sydney during the 1994 fires there and it was the most amazing experience of siege.

You could stand in the very middle of this massive metropolis among cafes and retail shops and look down major thoroughfares like Oxford and George Street and see the fires burning -- not just smoke, but flames -- the suburbs along the north western border of the city. Road and rail links to Newcastle to the north were cut. The city to the north and east was surrounded by fires and a fire was also consolidating to the south of the city.

And this was before major climate change factors had been seen to kick in.

In Victoria at the moment, they are talking about building dugouts as refuges in the same way that shelters were utilised during the London blitz.

And the analogy isn't a false one. I think of Slaughterhouse 5 and Dresden as an analogy for the sort of firestorms that are now being created in these climatic conditions.

The air temperature during these Vic fires -- independent of the inferno -- was 47C! With winds gusting over 80 kilometres/hour.

(Some of the figures for these fires are mind boggling as to their speed and massive radiant heat.Another strange occurrence was that these fires' initial ignition advanced often through the tree tops and not the undergrowth.So they moved much faster while airborn like that.)

Before the Victorian events, Adelaide sweltered through a heatwave during which at least 22 people died -- from the heat alone. In Melbourne, the electricity network was overloaded and failed for tens of thousands of homes because of power demands on the grid -- mainly for air conditioning.

While 181 people at least have perished in the fires, the figures for deaths and hospital admissions due to the massive heat and pollution (from the smoke, esp among asthmatics) I haven't as yet seen.

It is this factor that most concerns me in regard to my aged relatives who live in Melbourne.

Next week, the air temperatures are predicted to rise and the northerly winds to increase again.Today the town of Mansfield was spared by a weather change.

The Sentinel said...

Yes Phil, and I was waiting how long it would take before some hysterical left wing idiot claimed that someone presenting a mainstream article about a high level warning that the Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland took seriously long before this fire had claimed any such thing.

I see I didn't have to wait long.

Just another example of your completely entrenched and blinkered static view - if it don't fit your narrow ideology then it not even the possibility exists.

Just to clarify it further Phil, as you obviously have trouble distinguishing I didn't make any claim Phil.

Muslims calling themselves the "Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network" called for this "forest jihad" and claimed that the idea of forest fires had been attributed to imprisoned Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Al-Suri. It said Al-Suri had urged terrorists to use sulphuric acid and petrol to start forest fires.

This threat was then picked up by US intelligence and passed to Australian intelligence and deemed so serious that Australia's Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Federal Government remained "vigilant against such threats", warning that anyone caught lighting a fire as a weapon of terror would feel the wrath of anti-terror laws.

You see Phil, these nutters you refer to are the 'jihadists' themselves, US intelligence and high level Australian authorities.

But it is wonderful example of why and your ilk should not be anywhere near the levers of power: You have no idea who is responsible (for at least some of the bush fires) and months before they happened there was a threat to do exactly what has been done that was taken seriously at the highest levels, but because it does not fit your agenda you totally dismiss it out of hand and even scorn any report of it.

Very dangerous stuff.

Phil BC said...

Sentinel, I would like some proof, please.

Googling this Jihadi group's name and that of the writer comes up with a lot of puff pieces that look as though they've churned them from the original Homeland Security News report - an agency that you're asking us to believe, and yet who you think, as an arm of the US government, is involved in your 9-11 conspiranoia fantasies.

However, there is no Al-Ikhlas website nor any source for the mysterious writer. But there is an interesting piece that disputes the claims you're heavily relying on. Maybe you would like to go take a look.

I also noticed you dropped your climate change nonsense pretty quickly - is it because your beloved wikipedia contradicts you?

The Sentinel said...

Oh Phil, you do amuse me.

If its about hundreds of Polish work joining a 'British jobs for British workers' strike then you only need to misrepresent the word of one man in one local paper- and make up quotes for support thereafter.

But then, of course, that fits your narrow little ideology doesn't it so we don't need to go to far into it, now do we?

What proof on this are you seeking exactly Phil?

The website no longor exists? So what? Is that a surprise to you?

You are relying on some guy called "Fringe" on what appears to be a blog using another blog as a source over the national media.

The original report on the Jihad fire threat was published in The Australian newspaper on September 7th last year, and was pulled from the Internet on 9th February 2009 - for obvious reasons.

Just two more examples of national media still reporting this story:

"In November, 2008, comments on a jihadist website demanded just such a 'forest jihad' in Australia, Europe, Russia and the United States.

The posting, which quoted imprisoned Al Qaeda terrorist Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, said setting forest fires was legal under 'eye-for-an-eye' Islamic law, arguing: 'Scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels' forests when they do the same to our lands.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1140690/Forest-jihad-How-Australian-wildfires-fuel-Al-Qaeda-armies-one.html



"While Australian authorities have revealed no evidence linking the wildfires to extremists, terrorism experts say the large death toll, the huge swath of destruction and the massive financial blow to the country are proving to Islamic terrorists that arson can be a highly effective — and simple — tool of holy war.

In November, an extremist Web site called on Muslims to launch a "forest jihad" in Australia, Europe, Russia and the United States. The posting, which quoted imprisoned Al Qaeda terrorist Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, said setting forest fires was legal under "eye-for-an-eye" Islamic law.

"Scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels' forests when they do the same to our lands," the posting read.

The author of the posting indicated that Nasar — also known as Abu Musab Al-Suri — was urging terrorists to use sulfuric acid or gasoline to start the fires.

"Forest fires track well with the latest discussion trends seen in the Al Qaeda forums — easy to do, big impact, low security risk, high media coverage," said Al Qaeda expert Jarret Brachman.

"We've seen these kinds of appeals for action, be it setting fire to forests in Australia, to creating oil slicks on mountain roads in Europe, to poisoning water supplies and driving buses off bridges in the United States.

"The fact is that the Al Qaeda ideology is starting to branch out to more of an 'anyone, anywhere, anytime, anyhow' approach."

Brachman, author of "Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice," said "forest jihad" fits well in the growing interest among terrorists to establish "Al Qaeda armies of one."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,490306,00.html



And of course, at the moment, there is no evidence about anyone responsible.

And once again Phil, I didn't make any claims as to who may be responsible.

I just reproduced a report.

But the fact remains that this type of thing was threatened months ago and it is a matter for serious concern, especially given the unprecedented loss of life and it needs to be taken seriously.

As for your other little jibes Phil, like I have said, I always know when you feel burned because the child emerges.

Whilst it would be wise not to believe everything every agency or media outlet said, some things, on balance could merited.

If you think that everything is above board and rosy in the world Phil, then you are more naive then deluded. (From one small scale of the BBC doctoring interviews to make the recent 'British jobs for British workers' strikers look racist through to Watergate and Kennedy's magic bullet through to the now well known lies about Iraqi WMD's - the world is not a clear cut place. But I think that has already been covered here before.)

As for not expanding global warming, that is because, contrary to you and most of your comrades I do not claim to be an expert on the subject - I clearly said "it should treated with complete scientific impartiality, rather then political zeal" and the fact is I don't know what the ultimate causes are.

From what I have read and watched I am somewhat sceptical as to the now 'conventional' explanation - several things do not tally, such as the contention that we are leaving a mini-ice age and this is normal (for instance the Thames used to freeze over regularly - but the last time was in 1814, long before our mass oil based emissions.) ; the fact that Mars has been experiencing similar activity; solar changes etc. and also the way it is being used to justify state surveillance and control.

Also things like this make me sceptical:

"More than 31,000 scientists have signed a petition denying that man is responsible for global warming. The academics, including 9,000 with PhDs, claim that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are actually beneficial for the environment."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/2053842/Scientists-sign-petition-denying-man-made-global-warming.html

"A group of scientists in the US and the UK says the accepted wisdom on climate change remains unproved.

They say rising greenhouse gas emissions may not be the main factor in global warming. They argue that temperature rise projections this century are "unknown and unknowable".

They claim it is "a media myth" to suppose that only a few scientists share their scepticism."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1833902.stm


But the truth is Phil, I am not qualified in this area and I do not the know causes for sure nor who is actually right for definite - do you?

Phil BC said...

Once more, pure comedy gold.

You recycle a load of churnalism pulled off right-wing websites which just so happens to tally with your anti-Muslim prejudice, winge about a blog that's given the story a jolly good fisking, and then you try to appear equivocal. And you dare to preface your comments with a moan about us bringing politics into it!

Re: climate change - I agree, we should have a critical eye on the climate change industry. Not because the science is fundamentally wrong - I don't believe it is - but because of the commercial interests that are congregating around it. That's the nature of the system - if there are opportunities for money to be made, firms will compete with each other for the markets. Just to give you an example, if an asteroid on collision course with the earth was picked up by Nasa or whoever, companies would fall over themselves to provide shelters, survival kits and that sort of thing. It doesn't make the disaster any less of a looming threat.

Regards the 31,000 "scientists", well, I suggest you take a look at this and this for starters.

I'm not a climatologist as you know but I do happen to know quite a few people who are. So when this normally fractious bunch are in complete agreement, and have the scientific consensus on their side, and when what I'v read chimes with their conclusions, I feel I'm a good position to say that yes, Today's trend toward global warming can be explained in terms of the industrial activity of our species. So not an expert, but rather a lay person who's tried to make sense of a complex issue by themselves.

The Sentinel said...

Once more, a few purely childish jibes.

Yes, how very dare me to highlight a report has been in the mainstream media- even Australia's leading national daily- since September 7, 2008, and was taken seriously at the highest levels - and still is.

How very dare me indeed.

Your blog with "Fringe" countering, sourcing to another blog does not constitute a 'jolly good frisking' - if you look hard enough (or usually even at all) you will find blogs and individuals on the internet who disagree with pretty much anything.

And you looked for it, and you got it.

(One of my faourites is this one: http://www.revisionism.nl/Moon/The-Mad-Revisionist.htm - "A cash reward of $100,000 has been offered to anyone who can send us, by e-mail, conclusive physical evidence of the existence of the moon. This reward remains unclaimed")

But it is meaningless as well as being very duplicitous to the standards of evidence you applied to the "hundreds of Polish work joining a 'British jobs for British workers' strike" fiasco - a completely unsubstantiated rumour.

So to clarify Phil - are you saying that you do not believe this report at all? That 'US Homeland Security' made it up? That this is a conspiracy?

As I said, Phil, I didn't politicise bush fires with Marxist class struggle politics, I merely reproduced a threat waning reported by credible sources and said "you should certainly be very concerned about is this."

As for my "anti-Muslim prejudice" - that is just pure baseless rubbish - I am sure I have told you before that I was awarded a medal in Bosnia for retrieving Muslim children from a minefield.

I couldn't care less what anyone wants to believe in private; nor could I care less if Muslims want to openly apply Sharia law in their own nations and cut off heads and arms and stone women to death - I don't like it, but it is none of my business; and having been to, and spent time in a few Islamic states - especially Saudi Arabia - I can tell you that the penalty for commenting on it would be very severe in any case.

No, I only care when it affects my way of life and attempts to impose itself and dominate inside the confines of the society it is a guest in - as I do with any theory / religion / ideology etc.

As for climate change and the articles you link to if you really believe that those 3 were selected randomly then, well, then good luck.

I rather like this from Czech President Vaclav Klaus, as it succinctly sums up two of my suspicions:

"The European Union's new figurehead believes that climate change is a dangerous myth and has compared the union to a Communist state"

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5430362.ece


But either ways I could throw scientific quotes at you could throw them back at me ad infinitum - but the honest truth is I would not be able to comprehend or digest the technical side of it competently because it so far removed from anything I have ever been trained to do. That is not to say I cannot form an opinion based on the broad strokes laid out by both sides, but I am not scientifically capable of concluding that one specific and technical piece of climate change scientific evidence really negates another independently.

But just out of interest- purely out of interest - why do you think that mars is facing climate change too?

And that the River Thames used to freeze over regularly (1408, 1435, 1506, 1514, 1537, 1565, 1595, 1608, 1621, 1635, 1649, 1655, 1663, 1666, 1677, 1684, 1695, 1709, 1716, 1740, (1768), 1776, (1785), 1788, 1795, and 1814) but has since ceased to do so - for nearly two hundred years - long before the mass carbon emissions we speak of today?

Phil BC said...

Actually the Wikipedia page on climate change is pretty good for a lay audience. I suggest you read it Sentinel as it answers your queries better than I can.

Dave Riley said...

Just a final reference for the Australian SP who seem to have failed to comprehend the scale of climate change underlying the Victorian bushfires. This is a crucial issue for socialist to confront and deal with and a knee jerk response of summarily accusing me of covering for capitalism isn't really the Marxist method at all. :Bushfires — just chance, or climate change?
AUSTRALIAWith Victoria’s bushfire holocaust now confirmed as Australia’s worst-ever natural disaster, people are reasonably asking: are these events linked to climate change? »

bushfires said...

In the last decade, the number of very high or extreme fire danger days have already been seen to increase in frequency as climate change makes southeast Australia hotter and drier.