Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been under fire, – first for taking a Hawaiin vacation as the current bush-fire catastrophe set in – and more broadly for his staunch climate denial positions.

Great ABC reporting here. Evolving story.

Trying to work on a video about this fire and I can’t keep up.

NPR:

A pair of massive bushfires in southeastern Australia has merged into a “megafire” engulfing some 2,300 square miles — a single blaze more than three times as large as any known fire in California.

The merged fire, which straddles the country’s most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria, measures nearly 1.5 million acres, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. It is just one of some 135 bushfires in Australia’s southeast that have claimed the lives of at least 26 people, killed more than a billion animals and damaged or destroyed nearly 3,000 homes.

Since September, the unprecedented bushfires have swept through an area larger than Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined.

NASA has released an animation showing how smoke from the fires has reached the lower stratosphere and traveled as far away as Chile.
(see above)

The same folks that brought you “..the Sandy Hook parents faked their own children’s deaths,..” – now bringing you “evil greenies lighting fires in Australian bush to make coal look bad.”

DeSmogblog:

As unusually intense and widespread bushfires have ravaged a drought-ridden Australia, bots and trolls have begun pushing climate science denial across the internet in the form of conspiracy theories about the fires. Thanks to climate change, exceptionally hot, dry drought conditions have worsened and lengthened Australia’s typical fire season.

Two of the main conspiracies about the fires are based on the false ideas that they are caused by a spate of arson and they have been worsened by the Green Party’s supposed efforts to stop controlled burns as a fire management and reduction measure.

Dr. Timothy Graham from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) did an analysis of the online activity and concluded there was a high level of bots involved in spreading these conspiracies. As ZDnet reported, Graham is “at least confident” that that this was some type of disinformation campaign.

Sites like NewsWars — which was founded by the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones who falsely claimed the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax — are already pushing these conspiracies.

Notorious climate deniers Patrick Michaels and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute promoted the same conspiracies in the Washington Examiner. And the discredited extremist science denier Lord Monckton also weighed in.

However, it isn’t just fringe sites pushing these ideas. The New York Times reports that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has also been instrumental in publishing these debunked claims (and others claiming that these fires are no worse than normal).

Despite multiple sources clearly discrediting these myths, CNN’s top story in its World News section today, which is also featured in its website’s top stories banner this morning, included the misleading headline, “Police in Australia are accusing 24 people of deliberately setting bushfires” — reinforcing the work of conspiracy theorists’ messaging.

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University of Sydney:

Update on number of animals killed in Australian bushfires: Sydney expertShareProfessor Chris Dickman has revised his estimate of the number of animals killed in bushfires in NSW to more than 800 million animals, with a national impact of more than one billion animals.

Several weeks ago Professor Dickman, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science, estimated that 480 million animals would be killed by the fires. With the fires having now continued and extended their range he has updated that figure including putting the impact nationally at more than one billion animals.

Speaking to National Public Radio in America Professor Dickman said, “I think there’s nothing quite to compare with the devastation that’s going on over such a large area so quickly. It’s a monstrous event in terms of geography and the number of individual animals affected.”

“We know that Australian biodiversity has been going down over the last several decades, and it’s probably fairly well known that Australia’s got the world’s highest rate of extinction for mammals. It’s events like this that may well hasten the extinction process for a range of other species. So, it’s a very sad time.

“What we’re seeing are the effects of climate change. Sometimes, it’s said that Australia is the canary in the coal mine with the effects of climate change being seen here most severely and earliest… We’re probably looking at what climate change may look like for other parts of the world in the first stages in Australia at the moment,” said Professor Dickman from the Faculty of Science.

“I think there is a feeling among environmental scientists and ecologists in Australia that we’ve been frozen out of the debate, certainly out of policymaking. I think it’s now time to bring the scientists back into the tent to look at what is likely to be happening over the next few decades and to think about how we can maintain both the human community in good health and as much biodiversity as can be retained under this evolving situation.”

Professor Dickman explains that animals that survive the fires in the first instance by fleeing or going underground will return or re-emerge into areas that don’t have the resources to support them. Others will fall victim to introduced predators such as feral cats and red foxes. Even for those birds or animals able to flee to unaffected areas they will rarely be able to successfully compete with animals already living there and succumb within a short time.

Climate denial social media offensive follows the same format we saw during the California fire season – with a new wrinkle.

THE FACT:

Fire services in Australia do regular burns to control brush build up and deprive fires of ready fuel. These practices actually date back to the indigenous people in pre-European times.

THE LIE:

Climate deniers spreading the rumor that “greenies” have kept authorities from doing enough controlled burns – and that THAT is the mechanism and driver for current fires. In addition, creative denialists have added the wrinkle that it’s in fact greenie Enviros who are actually busy lighting the fires, to blame on fossil fuels and climate change.

Above: New South Wales Royal Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons politely shoots down those claims.

New York Times:

WOMBEYAN CAVES, Australia — Deep in the burning forests south of Sydney this week, volunteer firefighters were clearing a track through the woods, hoping to hold back a nearby blaze, when one of them shouted over the crunching of bulldozers.

“Don’t take photos of any trees coming down,” he said. “The greenies will get a hold of it, and it’ll all be over.” 

The idea that “greenies” or environmentalists would oppose measures to prevent fires from ravaging homes and lives is simply false. But the comment reflects a narrative that’s been promoted for months by conservative Australian media outlets, especially the influential newspapers and television stations owned by Rupert Murdoch.

And it’s far from the only Murdoch-fueled claim making the rounds. His standard-bearing national newspaper, The Australian, has also repeatedly argued that this year’s fires are no worse than those of the past — not true, scientists say, noting that 12 million acres have burned so far, with 2019 alone scorching more of New South Wales than the previous 15 years combined. 

Below, example of bogus tweet

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Meanwhile, in Indonesia..

January 8, 2020