As mainstream media asserts some arson claims are #FakeNews, Australia looks to aboriginals for better land management practices.
Last week I noted that the apocalyptic wildfires burning in Australia were due, in part, to several arsonists who intentionally ignited the desiccated land.
Fortunately, my sister-in-law and her family have safely returned to their home in Bega. The fires are already burned 10.2 million hectares (25.2 million acres) and have claimed 27 lives. However, it looks like there will be just a little respite from the high fire danger in the near future.
A cold front is currently moving across the south-eastern parts of the country and will continue to track across Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) during today 11 January. The south-westerly wind change behind the cold front will be gusty, particularly around the fire affected areas.
According to the EU Joint Research Centre’s Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS), the fire danger forecast, although temporarily slightly improved, will remain considerably high to extreme across eastern Australia from 11-12 January and up to 15 January. The fire danger will improve in South Western Australia and will be medium to high, especially in the coastline where a large number of active fires is still present.
Australian authorities have now charged 24 people with arson in connection with some of the blazes that contributed to this disaster.
Police have charged at least 24 people for intentionally starting bushfires in the state of New South Wales, according to a statement the New South Wales Police released Monday.
NSW Police have taken legal action against 183 people, 40 of whom are juveniles, for fire-related offenses since November 8, the statement said. The legal actions range from cautions to criminal charges.
Out of those 183 people, 53 have received cautions or criminal charges for failing to comply with a total fire ban and 47 are accused of discarding a lit cigarette or match on land, according to the police statement.
However, in their efforts to minimize the role that these crimes played in the wildfires (and refocus attention on “climate crisis causes), the mainstream media is promoting the idea that these numbers are #FakeNews:
The hashtag #ArsonEmergency began trending shortly after the new year. Queensland University of Technology researcher Timothy Graham says he identified troll and bot social media accounts that tried to shift the narrative about the fires as being the work of dozens of criminals.
“We studied about 300 Twitter accounts driving the #ArsonEmergency hashtag to identify inauthentic behavior,” Graham said Friday in an essay for The Conversation, which he co-wrote with fellow researcher Tobias Keller.
“We found many accounts using #ArsonEmergency were behaving ‘suspiciously,’ compared to those using #AustraliaFire and #BushfireAustralia,” they said. “Accounts peddling #ArsonEmergency carried out activity similar to what we’ve witnessed in past disinformation campaigns, such as the coordinated behavior of Russian trolls during the 2016 US presidential election.”
So, every story the press doesn’t like comes now comes from Russian trolls!
Some Australians are now promoting controlled burns in the future, similar to the practices attributed to the aboriginal peoples.
For thousands of years, the Indigenous people of Australia set fire to the land.
Long before Australia was invaded and colonised by Europeans, fire management techniques – known as “cultural burns” – were being practised.
The cool-burning, knee-high blazes were designed to happen continuously and across the landscape.
The fires burn up fuel like kindling and leaf detritus, meaning a natural bushfire has less to devour.
Since Australia’s fire crisis began last year, calls for better reintegration of this technique have grown louder. But it should have happened sooner, argues one Aboriginal knowledge expert.
“The bush needs to burn,” says Shannon Foster.
I sure hope social justice warriors don’t nix these management practices because of “cultural appropriation.” Then again, the Australians could take the #ExtinctionRebellion approach:
— Kim-Leigh Pontin (@KimLeighPontin) January 10, 2020
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