climate change denialists’ new favorite conspiracy theory
Despite decades of escalating warnings from scientists about fire prone areas being more and more susceptible to outbreaks as temperatures keep simmering upwards, those who refuse to admit that our pollution is changing the world for the worse seem baffled by those predictions playing out in California, Western Canada, Brazil, and Australia. But since admitting that they may be wrong is impossible for them because they’re on the payrolls of think tanks funded by fossil fuel companies, or embraced conspiracy theories in which a cabal of Satanic pedophiles is scamming the world to steal their property and levy new taxes, they’ve come up with an insane new explanation that fits their worldview.
According to them and armies of bots always ready to amplify the next manufactroversy, all the massive fires in question must be arson, and not just your regular old arson, but by groups of environmentalists trying to scare up support for a global carbon tax. In the up-is-down-black-is-white universe of the deniers, the world is cooling — despite the fact the nine out of last of the ten hottest years on record happened since 2005, with the last five years in the top five spots — so the fictional evil cabal behind the “global warming hoax” must be desperate enough to start setting fires to convince “the sheep” that things are getting bad. Their surefire proof? People have been arrested for arson in connection with wildfires. And… that’s it.
Unfortunately, it’s true that arsonists set wildfires and not all the fires we see are natural. At the same time, the denialists’ focus on these arsonists and the rocket assisted launch to the wild notion that they’re somehow organized or maybe even brainwashed into doing what they do by a malevolent group, misses the point entirely. Global warming means droughts, hotter temperatures, and increased desertification. All that creates more kindling for any kind of fire, whether it’s set by lightning, careless campers, faulty power lines, and yes, arsonists. In a way, what starts the fire isn’t as much of a concern. The big problem is the fact that any type of fire set by anything is now more likely to last longer and be harder to control.
Of course the denialists will ask “what about the hundreds of people arrested in Australia for fire offenses this year?” in response, and they’ll be wrong once again. That number is so high because they clumped reports of offenses ranging from potentially hazardous littering to setting a forest ablaze into the same category. In reality, just 24 people have actually been arrested and charged with arson while the rest were simply fined or warned for being negligent when it comes to fire safety by lighting outdoor cooking fires during a temporary ban on doing so, discarding lit cigarettes, or violating fire safety codes. To pretend that leaving something in the oven too long is the same as deliberately starting a wildfire and it’s all a plot to terrorize people into being taxed is just asinine, i.e. perfect for right wing conspiracy sites.
Rather than warn politicians and bureaucrats of a fiery death, scientists were alarmed about very likely increases in the number of potential fires, their duration, and the areas they would be able to consume based on the amount of fuel and favorable conditions they would have. These are both perfectly reasonable concerns and something politicians should keep in mind when they allocate money for land management and fire prevention operations, as well as when they meet with their foreign counterparts to discuss problems plaguing the world. But since in the denialist version of reality all scientists are evil, of course the current wildfires are just a nefarious plot to steal money for their Satanic Illuminati Jew World Order masters with a carbon tax because something something Agenda 21.
Here’s the clear and simple bottom line. If you don’t understand that pollution is bad for you, your kids, and the world we live in, and that modern agriculture would be impossible if we let the planet heat up out of control, eventually starving hundreds of millions and causing floods of refugees from famine, disease, and war, and that all of those are terrible things both ethically and economically damaging, there’s no reasoning with you. If you think that scientists warning us about going down bad paths and offering good ideas for the future are all scammers out to get your money, you need a professional to help deal you with your pathological paranoia. And if you think that the fossil fuel industry and the politicians they pay to sabotage popular green energy projects care about you, you’re hopelessly naïve.
They’ll happily let you burn or choke on carcinogenic ash if it gets them another dollar in profits and by helping spread their conspiracy theories and embracing their rage-against-the-experts-as-a-lifestyle philosophy, you’re just as useful tool for their quest for a bigger, fatter bonus. If Australia’s prime minister actually cared about what happened to the people affected by the wildfires, would he need to be dragged off the beach in Hawaii almost by force to come visit towns on the front lines? And would he come with empty hands to forcibly grab strangers so he could pose them for the cameras? Are these really the people to whom you’re going to trust your future, health, and property? People who’ll sell you out for a nickel without so much as a second thought?