For reasons I can't grasp, but I suspect is set down as bringing “balance” to the debate, the Canberra Times has wheeled out climate denier John McLean to browbeat anyone who links increased severity and frequency of bushfires to climate change.
“It seems that every time there's a major bushfire in Australia there's also a queue of people who try to blame it on man-made warming. They easily forget that our history of fires dates from long before the rise in temperatures, and they seem ignorant about science in general and meteorology in particular.”
“Our history of fires dates from long before the rise in temperatures” is true but entirely ignores the increasing frequency of major bushfire events.
And of course there's the mysterious and invisible “they”, a pasture full of straw men, who are ignorant.
"In its latest report the IPCC claims that it is "likely" that heatwaves have increased in Australia, "likely" being just one step away from "as likely as not". Two of the three cited papers in the report appear to have a co-author who is also a lead author of that chapter of the IPCC report, which might be fortuitous."
The IPCC report is either biased or wrong because of the work of one author: an ad-hominiem argument.
“A close check of the easiest obtained of the three references tells a less clear picture.”
Of course, however, McLean doesn't provide us with the citation he cherry-picks. And of course, he picks one that fortuitously supports his position.
Skipping down, we find this gem: “This would lead to early drying of vegetation, although this seems not without precedent because major NSW bushfires have previously occurred in October and November.”
This is a complete red herring: the statement that “major bushfires will increase in frequency and severity as a result of climate change” is not disproven by “major bushfires have happened before”.
There's a strange kind of meta-wrongness in the argument McLean presents, and which is present in the denialist “you can't blame this fire on global warming” argument.
If the circumstances of one fire don't prove that climate change exists (a statement I agree with), then neither do the circumstances of one fire disprove climate change.
However, it's pretty much stage three of a denialist strategy which went to work as soon as Adam Bandt of The Greens spoke out:
Stage One: silence environmental concerns with the politically-correct instruction that nobody politicise the bushfires.
Stage Two: politicise the tragedy from the perspective of the sceptic.
Stage Three: roll out professional climate change deniers to support Stage Two.
Stage Four is yet to come. I imagine it will be this: refuse to discuss the issue. “The emergency is over. We will not let extreme environmentalists further their anti-business, anti-family agenda by continuing to discuss the matter.”