• Jessica Colarossi

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    Jessica Colarossi

    Jessica Colarossi is a science writer for The Brink. She graduated with a BS in journalism from Emerson College in 2016, with focuses on environmental studies and publishing. While a student, she interned at ThinkProgress in Washington, D.C., where she wrote over 30 stories, most of them relating to climate change, coral reefs, and women’s health. Profile

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There are 4 comments on How Global Warming Helped Ignite One of Australia’s Worst Fire Seasons

  1. “The flammability of the eucalyptus trees are now working in conjunction with a much larger fire amplifier: climate change.”*

    *and Arsonists

    Politifact.com reports 24 people charged with deliberately setting bushfires since Nov 8, according to New South Wales police…

    1. Thanks for your comment, Diana. In fact, it appears that 24 people have been charged with starting bushfires. Experts say that these arsonists are likely responsible for less than 1 percent of the total fires, the majority of which were started by lightning strikes on dry, drought-ridden land. Here are some sources with more information: https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/the-truth-about-australias-fires-—-arsonists-arent-responsible-for-many-this-season/ar-BBYSTIn and https://www.politifact.com/facebook-fact-checks/statements/2020/jan/10/facebook-posts/those-claims-about-nearly-200-arrested-arson-austr/ and https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/14/disinformation-on-australian-bushfires-should-not-be-spread-by-ministers and https://www.npr.org/2020/01/10/795218092/australias-wildfires-spark-disinformation-battle-as-they-take-a-tragic-toll

  2. Thank you for reading! Author here. To answer both questions, the claims of arsonists igniting the bushfires is false. Vox has a fantastic explainer about how these rumors began and how the information has been propagated by bots and climate-skeptic media. Victoria’s police confirmed “no intelligence to indicate that the fires in East Gippsland and north-east Victoria have been caused by arson.” There are 24 people in NSW facing criminal charges for fire activities, but suspected arson has only caused a tiny, tiny amount of damage compared with fires started by lightning and climate activity. (The 100-200 number floating around the internet has been taken out of context, too.) So it’s really unrelated to the larger bushfire crisis at hand, which is why it’s not mentioned in the story.

    Here is the full explainer if it’s of interest: https://www.vox.com/2020/1/9/21058332/australia-fires-arson-lightning-explained

    And a piece from the Guardian I found helpful: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/08/police-contradict-claims-spread-online-exaggerating-arsons-role-in-australian-bushfires

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