"I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning"
Tim Blair discusses the absurdities of carbon footprint accounting where Australian aborigines are paid millions to preventively burn bush against wildfires which are magically offset against ConocoPhillips refinery emissions. "The Aboriginal teams are now using trucks, and even helicopters, to drop incendiary devices on their land, enabling them to burn, and control, huge areas before the dry season and the wild fires begin towards the end of the year."
Fire has been used as a land management tool for a long time. An Australian government website has this from a manager at the Bushfires Council of the Northern Territories.
Since my appointment in May 1992, a large part of my time has been spent addressing community concerns. For example, the largest voice against the use of fire as a land management tool comes from the urban dweller or 'towny' who considers fire is destructive and pollutes the atmosphere, smoke being the main issue that surfaces. Prescribed burning has received constant criticism with petitions and 'letters to the editor'. No distinction is made, nor understood by most of the protesters, between prescribed burning early in the dry season and out of control fires late in the dry season.
It underscores the complexity of environmental issues. I met people who thought tree farming was bad because it wasn't the natural way wood was grown. No amount of arguing that it would reduce the incentive to illegally log the natural forest by creating a sustainable supply of wood would shake that conviction. Similarly, it came as a surprise to the same sort of people that bulldozers, axes and back-burning were the most useful tools in controlling wildfires. I think one of the key reasons the Aborigines can get away with dropping incendiaries from helicopters is that they are Aborigines. That fact alone will convince the Chardonnay Set that the practice is somehow sustainable where volumes of scientific data would fail to achieve the same effect. What does it go to show? The medium is as important as the message.