Friday, January 3, 2020

Liars and Wildfires: A Tale of Two Idiots

Once upon a time there were two political leaders who exacerbated the suffering of their citizens and ignored their pleas for help.

Those two men are none other than U.S. President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Both men have dismissed calls for climate action while their people suffer from savage wildfires induced by global warming. Both men ignore the constellation of hot data even though Australia and the U.S. suffered through some of their worst heatwaves last year. These heatwaves triggered an epidemic of wildfires in 2019 effectively illustrating the fact that these fires have become the new abnormal.

As reported by GMO, Trump was called an "idiot" when he blamed the victims for California's wildfires in 2018. The 88 that died and the tens of thousands of homes that burned were not due to what Trump incorrectly described as "bad environmental laws".  In response to this statement the president of the California Firefighters Union called Trump "an idiot". The president's remarks were "dangerously wrong," he said adding that most California forests are under federal management and "it is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management."

Wildfires are now wreaking havoc in Australia.  They have destroyed thousands of properties and killed 500 million animals yet Morrison refuses to accept his government's complicity.  As reported by Grist, Morrison was recently called an "idiot" during a photo op in wildfire ravaged town of Carbago. "You’re an idiot, mate," one man said "You really are."

"What we are saying is we cannot control the natural disaster but what we can do is control our response," Morrison said. On December 22, Morrison incorrectly told journalists it’s "not credible" to suggest a link between climate change and any individual wildfire. Contrary to Morrison's assertions, these fires are man-made disasters as evidenced by the science linking climate change to wildfires.

The unconscionable conduct of Trump and Morrison is explained by their strong affinity for the old energy industry. They flout climate science to defend their interests in fossil fuels which are known to cause climate change. The Guardian reports that 20 fossil fuel companies, some owned by states, some by shareholders, have produced 35 percent of the carbon dioxide and methane released by human activities since 1965.

Rather than curtail the extraction of fossil fuels Morrison indicated he wants to curtail people's right to protest coal, the country's leading energy export. "We are working to identify serious mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians," Morrison told a group of miners. A similar effort is underway in the U.S. with some states outlawing protests against the fossil fuel industry.

What both Trump and Morrison refuse to publicly acknowledge is the fact that climate change is making summers hotter and drier and their support for fossil fuels is making the situation worse.  To justify their inaction, both men equivocate or deny the veracity of climate change. Under the leaderships of Trump and Morrison the U.S. and Australia rank among the world's worst carbon polluters in the world. These two leaderships are a threat to climate stability as well as the health and safety of their citizens.

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