Australia’s Environment Minister gets his Bushfire “facts” from Wikipedia
- Abbott Government at odds with scientists and researchers over climate change
- Bushfire crisis not the result of climate change, it’s the result of hotter weather says Environment Minister
- Environment Minister turned to Wikipedia to get “facts” on bushfires
As the Australian Bushfire Crisis makes headlines around the globe, the Australian Government’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt has launched a scathing attack on research that suggests a correlation between the effects of climate change and the current bushfire emergency, saying he had ”looked up what Wikipedia” said and it was clear that bushfires in Australia were frequent events that had occurred during hotter months before.
“It’s not the result of climate change, it’s the result of hotter weather” he said.
Since the 1980’s, scientists and researchers around the world have predicted that climate change would lead to dramatic changes in weather patterns including greater frequency and volatility in storms and bushfires.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a self-professed climate change sceptic and immediately scrapped the country’s Climate Change Commission when he came to power earlier this year. His government also intends to scrap the former government’s carbon price mechanism; a model introduced to reduce carbon emissions from large polluters.
The head of the UN’s climate change negotiations, Christiana Figueres, and former US vice-president and climate change activist Al Gore have also weighed into the debate with both criticising the Abbott government over its moves to scrap the carbon price.
They also said the evidence was clear that extreme weather would be more frequent as the planet warmed.
However Tony Abbott rejected Ms Figueres’ assessment that a clear link existed between bushfires and climate change.
”I think she’s talking out of her hat” he said yesterday
“These fires are certainly not a function of climate change – they’re just a function of life in Australia” he said.
On Monday, Ms Figueres had told CNN that the Coalition government would pay a high political and financial price for its decision to scrap carbon pricing.
“What is absolutely clear is the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency,” Ms Figueres said.
”Climate change is known to alter the likelihood of increased wildfire sizes and frequencies,” she said.
Mr Gore said the Abbott government shouldn’t bend to the will of ”special interests” groups, which dismiss climate science evidence.
”It reminds me of politicians here in the United States who got a lot of support from the tobacco companies and who argued to the public that there was absolutely no connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer,” Mr Gore said.
‘For 40 years tobacco companies were able to persuade compliant politicians within their grip to tell the public what they wanted them to tell them.”
While Mr Gore, a Nobel Prize-winning climate change activist, did accept bushfires were natural occurrences, he said they would be much worse in a world with high temperatures, dried out soil and vegetation.
”Wildfires become more pervasive and dangerous,” he said.
In April the government’s own Climate Commission, using research from CSIRO and BoM, warned climate change was already increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather.
The commission, abolished by the Abbott government last month, said there was a high risk these extreme events would worsen in coming decades and Australia was particularly susceptible.
The latest major report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also warned that allowing global temperatures to rise above two degrees risked more extreme weather events.