Monday, February 09, 2009

Tragedy [update 3]

It's a tragedy in Victoria. Over 100 dead. Horrifying stories. Worse than Ash Wednesday. Worse than Black Friday.
Just tragic.
UPDATE 1: From Andrew Bolt: "[Historian] Geoffrey Blainey says there have been bigger fires in Victoria’s history, but none deadlier."
UPDATE 2: Tim Blair has updates.
UPDATE 3: The Australian Greens play pseudo-science over the corpses. Says the shroud-waving Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Green party,
summer fires would get worse unless Australia and other nations showed more leadership on reducing greenhouse gas emissions."It's a sobering reminder of the need for this nation and the whole world to act and put at a priority our need to tackle climate change," he said.
Clearly he hasn't taken any lessons in not talkng your book before people have even been able to bury their dead. And all too clearly, neither has he been following either history or the news from the Northern Hemisphere. Summarises Andrew Bolt:
Fact: Cold, not heat, is what really kills people, as we see now in Britain.
Fact: A warming world would save countless lives, not cost them.
Fact is, heat waves can and do kill people. And bush fires can and do kill people. But let's put this in historical context before hysterical over-reaction makes it impossible.
In 1939, for instance, 438 people died in the Black Friday heat, not including
the 71 Victorians killed by the fires.
The temperatures back then were higher than those in Victoria and South Australia last week, but the heat this time hung around for longer. Yet despite our much greater population today, no more than 50 people died from heat, a fraction of the 1939 toll.
What changed? Mostly our ability now to stay cool -- most obviously through
airconditioning.
And the news from up north -- what does that tell us? Well, Britain (to take just one Northern Hemisphere example) is now having its coldest winter in 13 years. The result?
So vulnerable are the elderly to cold that a World Health Organisation report
last year estimated that 40,000 Britons died every winter, and these "excess
winter deaths are related to poor housing conditions -- insufficient insulation,
ineffective heating systems and fuel poverty".
That's right: 40,000 Britons die each year in the cold, often because they're too poor for warming.
The evidence is that excessive cold is a far bigger killer than excessive heat.
So tragic as the bush fires are, they are neither evidence of global warming nor the "sobering reminder" that Senator Brown so crassly contends. What his comments are evidence for however is that politicians like Mr Brown will leave no stone unturned, no matter how distasteful, to peddle their particular brand of bilge.

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3 Comments:

Blogger heisenbug said...

What I can't get over is the Green party response. I find the quote below (from BBC News) incredibly crass and insensitive (not to mention just outright bullshit):

The leader of the Green party, Bob Brown said summer fires would get worse unless Australia and other nations showed more leadership on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's a sobering reminder of the need for this nation and the whole world to act and put at a priority our need to tackle climate change," he said.

2/09/2009 01:20:00 pm  
Anonymous RobH said...

If you desire good and easily readable histories of Australia (and indeed The World) read Geoffrey Blainey. He is an historian that doesn’t let trendy PC thinking override evidence.

2/09/2009 09:37:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

To put this into a tiny bit of perspective - 16,000 kids a day die from hunger. Two million people a year die from AIDS. 300 fire deaths in Aus is undeniably nasty, but only in the context of what we are used to.

2/11/2009 08:59:00 am  

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