According to my calculations and estimates, the number of individuals around Australia whose arson has contributed to the current bushfire crisis has now passed 200.
This figure is not presented as a counter-argument to those who blame the fires on climate change. Most people (I hope) understand that trees tend not to spontaneously combust, no matter what the air temperature is; when we talk about bushfires starting naturally, we are talking about lightning strikes igniting tinder. The climate change argument posits that the more extreme weather conditions – higher temperatures, drought and so forth – make fires, however started, much more destructive and much more difficult to control and extinguish. These are debates to be had between climatologists, forestry experts and firefighters.
What is painfully clear, however, that Australia has a firebug crisis. It will no doubt be up to future royal commissions and inquiries to calculate exactly what proportion of the current loss and destruction can be attributed to human action, but I suspect it will be a significant one. Mankind may be causing climate change, but man is most definitely making fires start.