Born around the same time as the French student and workers’ uprising
in May 1968, there is nothing revolutionary about the Australian Prime
Minister Scott Morrison, also known as “Scotty from Marketing.” An Australian satirical website penned the nickname (which the prime minister rejects) because Morrison had two jobs in marketing from which he was fired.
As a young boy, he attended the prestigious Sydney Boys High School and later studied economics at a local university. With his beloved conservatives in power under former Prime Minister John Howard, Morrison was appointed director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport from 1998 to 2000, and managing director of Tourism Australia from 2004 to 2006.
With his marketing skills and the powerful assistance of Australia’s Rupert Murdoch-owned press, Morrison got himself elected prime minister of Australia in 2018. Like most of Australia’s arch-conservatives, he relies rather heavily on Murdoch’s propaganda machine. As journalist George Monbiotnotes, “On the day the nation’s lethal heat wave struck, Murdoch’s newspaper The Australian filled its front page with a report celebrating new coal exports and a smear story about the chiefs of the state fire services, who were demanding an immediate end to the burning of fossil fuels.”
Jesse Tahirali CTVNews.ca Digital Content Editor Published Tuesday, January 7, 2020 11:00AM EST
The wildfires raging in Australia have so far scorched an area larger
than the province of Nova Scotia, and the continent’s wildfire
season–which normally lasts through March–is nowhere near its end.
While rain and cooler temperatures
are bringing some relief to communities, there are still more than 135
fires burning across the southeastern Australian state of New South
Wales and higher temperatures are in the weather forecast for later in
the week. Seventy of those fires are not contained.
As officials warn conditions may only worsen, CTVNews.ca puts into context the wildfires’ devastating toll to humans and wildlife, and how the size of the blaze compares to other recent major fires around the world.
Fires are more frequent, more damaging, and more terrifying – a symptom of the new age that I call the Pyrocene
Steve Pyne is an emeritus professor at Arizona State University, and the author of Burning Bush: A Fire History of Australia and most recently the second edition of Fire: A Brief History
Australia is a fire continent. Imagine California
on the scale of the 48 contiguous states, but drier, more routinely
kindled and with winds that can transform large swathes of land into a
veritable fire flume. From time to time, its simmering flames boil over
into seeming tsunamis of fire.
And Australia has a culture to match. It has institutions to study, fight and light fire. It has a literature of fire, a folklore of fire and a fire art that is continuous from Indigenous bark paintings to modernist musings. It has special bushfire collections at its museums. It has a fire politics: on three occasions conflagrations have sparked royal commissions, and from 2009 to 2017, 51 official inquiries.
The worst fires have acquired names and become historical milestones,
such as Red Tuesday (1898), Ash Wednesday (1983), Black Christmas
(2001), Black Saturday (2009).
Now they are joined by the as-yet unnamed megafires of 2019-20. Call
them the Forever fires, for they seem inextinguishable, burning with
implacable insistence and smoke palls that extend their reach far beyond
the flames’ grasp.
Yes, Australia and bushfire are old acquaintances. But the past 20 years feel different. The bad fires are more frequent, more eruptive and more damaging. The Black Saturday fires, which killed 173 people, struck with the cultural force of a terrorist attack, and seemed to call into question the very premises of a “first world” society on a land capable of such fury. The Forever bushfires deepen that query.
Things are looking worse and worse with each passing day for Australia. On Wednesday, air quality index readings at one Canberra monitoring site peaked at 1 am at an extremely alarming 7,700. On Saturday, it was revealed that the country’s capital has the world’s worst air quality.
No fire without smoke
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise with all those
raging fires causing unimaginable damage all over Australia. And even
though the fires have not reached Canberra yet, the effects can still be
Health authorities have issued warnings telling residents to stay indoors with all windows and doors shut. “We
also strongly advise people who are sensitive to smoke, especially
those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions, to take extra care
during these conditions,” said the advice.
Scientists can now detect the “fingerprint” of human-caused
climate change in global daily weather patterns, according to a
groundbreaking analysis published Thursday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“For generations, climate scientists have educated the public that ‘weather is not climate,’ and climate change has been framed as the change in the distribution of weather that slowly emerges from large variability over decades,” the study says. “However, weather when considered globally is now in uncharted territory.”
From Scott Morrison to Brexiters, there is a wilful reluctance to address the truth
Nick Cohen is an Observer columnist
There are worse leaders than Scott Morrison. The “international community” includes torturers, mass murderers, ethnic cleansers and kleptomaniacs beside whom he seems almost benign. But no leader in the world is more abject than the prime minister of Australia.Ben GuerinThere are worse leaders than Scott Morrison. The “international community” includes torturers, mass murderers, ethnic cleansers and kleptomaniacs beside whom he seems almost benign. But no leader in the world is more abject than the prime minister of Australia.
He cuts a pathetic figure. A leader must speak honestly to his people
in a crisis. The sly tactics of climate change denial, the false
consoling words that it’s a scare and we can carry on as before, have
left Morrison’s words as meaningless as a hum in the background. Nothing
he says is worth hearing.
is rich in its descriptions of worthless men: as useful as tits on a
bull, a dry thunderstorm, a third armpit, a glass door on a dunny, a
pocket on a singlet, an ashtray on a motorbike, a submarine with screen
doors, a roo-bar on a skateboard. Morrison is all of the above, but a
British saying sums him up: “too clever by half”. Morrison won last
year’s Australian general election, although his conservative Liberal
party was expected to lose, by slyly mobilising opinion against tax
rises in general and environmental taxes in particular.
The climate change denialism he espoused is a moving target. In the 1990s, lobbyists funded by the oil industry acted as if the overwhelming majority of scientists who understood the subject were in a conspiracy against the public. They accused the authors of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports of being guilty of a “major deception” when they discussed the human influence on climate. Many still hold to the original sin of this denialism.
CBC Radio · Posted: Jan 04, 2020 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: January 4
It’s the question that’s been hanging over the climate change
debate since the beginning: how do you talk about the problem with
people who think you’re wrong?
Start by focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us, said atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe.
is a lot easier said than done, because it seems like our entire public
discourse these days is built on what divides us, on the tiny fraction
of what we disagree on,” Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center
at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, told The House in an interview recorded in mid-December.
most of us, if we actually sat down and had a genuine conversation, we
would agree that we want to help other people, we want to do what’s
right. We’re just disagreeing over how to get that done.
“Connecting with people on what we share — whether it is our faith, the sense of the place where we live, the things that we value, the activities that we participate in — is key to having positive conversations that are constructive, that actually end up in a place where we can agree on solutions, rather than ending up with both of our heads exploding.”
PM predicts ‘extremely difficult next 24 hours’ as death toll rises to 23
Thomson Reuters · Posted: Jan 04, 2020 12:24 PM ET | Last Updated: January 4
A father and son who were battling flames for two days on
Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia, are the latest
victims of the worst wildfire season in Australian history, and the path
of destruction widened in at least three states Saturday due to strong
winds and high temperatures.
The death toll in the wildfire
crisis is now up to 23 people, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after
calling up about 3,000 reservists to battle the escalating fires, which
are expected to be particularly fierce throughout the weekend.
are facing another extremely difficult next 24 hours,” Morrison said at
a televised news conference. “In recent times, particularly over the
course of the balance of this week, we have seen this disaster escalate
to an entirely new level.”
Dick Lang, a 78-year-old outback safari operator, and his 43-year-old son, Clayton, were identified by Australian authorities after their bodies were found Saturday on a highway on Kangaroo Island. Their family said their losses left them “heartbroken and reeling from this double tragedy.”