Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to defeat your own argument

A politician here in Australia has tried to downplay the link between climate change and increased bushfire. He described fires as part of living in Australia, and not a function of climate change.

cartoonist Leunig on the bushfires and the Prime Minister's attitude

On what basis? Because we've had them before. As Graham Readfern points out, that's like saying that cigarettes don't kill people, because people still died before cigarettes were invented.

But the clincher was the list of previous fires given by the same politician. The 1850s, 1939, 1968, 1983, 1994, 2001, 2009 (and now 2013). Look at the maths - in particular the gaps between those years. 80-plus, then 29, 15, 11, 7, 8, and now 4 years. This is precisely the point that climate scientists make. These events get more and more frequent as we continue to heat the planet.

It's a compelling point. Just not one that this politician intended to make.

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