Accuracy in Media

Wildfires are a jarring, fearsome, and dangerous natural disaster. As people begin to expand into previously-uninhabited environments, wildfires and natural disasters have wreaked havoc on property and life. The media has zoned in on the wildfires raging in Australia, which have devastated about 12 million acres of land and killed at least 26 people.

Media headlines continued to highlight on the doom-and-gloom rhetoric of the climate change activist movement, in addition to comments from celebrities and activists condemning alleged government inaction on climate change.

Contrary to the media’s narrative, Australians told New York Post columnist Miranda Devine that climate change was not the sole factor behind the wildfires. In her column, she pointed out that the Australian government’s land mismanagement was partly to blame for the wildfires’ intensity. She quoted bushfire researcher Dr. Phil Cheney, whose advice to the Australian government was to reduce ground fuel, or vegetation that could catch fire, or else future wildfires would create future untenable wildfire situations.

Compare Cheney’s recommendation to the 2017 California wildfires, where government officials said that poor ground fuel management contributed to the wildfires’ devastation in the state. The Washington Examiner reported that in 2018, the Department of Agriculture noted that there was dramatic overcrowding of dead trees in forests. The Examiner also quoted Cal Fire chief director Ken Pimlott, who blamed forest mismanagement as a major factor for the spread of the devastating wildfires.

It is easy to point to climate change as a major factor in the Australian wildfires, which is what the mainstream media has done. The mainstream media should have acknowledged that land management and ground fuel management could prevent devastating wildfires such as the Australian wildfires, instead of relying on political narratives and rhetoric to drum up support for an issue like climate change.

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