Australia’s rampant and destructive wildfires were started by arson and other causes, as well as fueled by dry conditions and high temperatures, but you’d never know it from the Golden Globes or mainstream media outlets.
In November, a teenage volunteer firefighter from New South Wales was charged with setting 7 bushfires in the region, and then returning with his brigade to fight them. Apparently, he has set 17 fires, and the pyromaniac has now been barred from access to any firefighting equipment.
“When one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster,” Cate Blanchett said.
Meanwhile, Russell Crowe’s statement at the Golden Globes, read aloud by Jennifer Anniston, stated that “the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future.”
Switching the script, Joaquin Phoenix took personal responsibility for his own actions, and advocated for a plant-based diet. “It’s great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives and hope that we can do that. We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards. I’ll try to do better, and I hope you will too.”
According to The Australian, “Police arrested 183 people for lighting bushfires across Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania in the past few months. NSW police data shows 183 people have been charged or cautioned for bushfire-related offences since November 8, and 24 arrested for deliberately starting bushfires.”
This claim was later revised to 183 people who Australian authorities have taken “legal action” against. Still, that’s 183 people who have acted illegally with regards to fire safety during this period of catastrophic bushfires, displacement, property loss, and deaths of both people and animals.
So why do so many Hollywood celebrities claim that the massive fires in Australia are a result of climate change? There’s a years’ long drought along Australia’s Gold Coast. There are rising temperatures. This has been the driest year on record, and the fire and cyclone seasons are just around the corner. But without those 183 irresponsible or malicious people since August, these blazes would probably be substantially less bad.
Climate change, greenhouse gases, pollution, air quality, and other threats to life and quality of life are of course real concerns. But the predilection of media and stars to taking any tragedy and using it as a fulcrum for their own cause celeb does less to amplify the need for action and policy change, and more to highlight the myopia that makes the public at large roll their eyes. Extinction Rebellion, devotees of teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, and simplifications of complex issues make it easy for people to dismiss climate concerns as baseless. Stating facts and offering solutions will do more to convince people of the need for change than easily dismissable hyperbole.