Politics

Too Many Idiots Are Blaming Arsonists For The Bushfires

There's so much misinformation out there.

Bushfire arson

Climate change deniers have spent the last few months tying themselves in knots trying to pinpoint a cause for our unprecedented bushfires — anything other than the obvious, which is climate change.

First it was the Greens. Now it’s arsonists.

The #ArsonEmergency hashtag started trending yesterday after NSW Police tweeted this:

People were quick to jump all over the tweet, but unless you happen to possess the critical thinking skills required to actually open the link they included, it’s slightly misleading. The data shows that of the 180 people charged, only 24 have been charged for deliberately lighting bushfires.

It’s still a disgustingly high number, but to say 24 idiots are solely to blame for the current crisis is ridiculous.

Unfortunately arsonists are nothing new, but the scale of our current crisis is. Expert after expert has lined up to confirm that climate change is exacerbating the scale of the fires, and if you’re still in doubt about that fact, then honestly I can’t help you.

This didn’t stop The Australian from reporting that more than 180 alleged arsonists had been arrested for lighting bushfires — a claim that was picked up by Donald Trump Jr, of all people.

For your own sanity, I would not recommend trawling through his replies.

Most of the people the NSW police charged were actually people who failed to comply with fire bans, or were caught flicking their cigarette butts.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrew told the ABC that none of the bushfires there were confirmed to be deliberately lit.

Intentionally or recklessly starting a bushfire can land you 21 years in jail in NSW and 15 years in Victoria, even more if that arson causes a death.

Who’s Spreading The Lies?

Interestingly though, university researcher Dr Timothy Graham analysed a sample of the #ArsonEmergency tweets and found about a third appeared to be bots or trolls that were spreading misinformation about the fires.

Another reminder to your terrible uncle not to believe everything you read on social media.