Editor's note: The opinions in this article are the author's, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft. © AAP ImagesThe Australian deputy PM has decried the ravings of people linking bushfires to global heating. But the catastrophic consequences of a lack of action are not confined to an inner-city
I'm not sure if you had the pleasure of hearing our deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, on the wireless before 8am on Monday decrying the ravings of people he categorised as "pure, enlightened and woke capital-city greenies". These would be the people daring to link catastrophic bushfires and climate change.
In case you missed this sequence, our Michael rose, ate the sensible man's breakfast presumably, and then fell into a passion in an ABC radio studio. The leader of the Nationals noted that sure, the onset of the fire season this year was "a tad early", but we'd had fires in Australia "since time began". He felt people battling a state of emergency needed help and shelter, not "ravings" or political point-scoring from Richard Di Natale and Adam Bandt.
The host of ABC Radio National Breakfast, Hamish Macdonald, then pointed out it wasn't just Di Natale and Bandt discussing the documented link between climate change and wildfires - it was Carol Sparks, the mayor of Glen Innes, who stitched drought, climate change and fires together after her northern New South Wales town battled a wall of flame at the weekend that killed two locals.
Bah. Old news, the Nationals leader offered.
"We know it's getting drier, we know it's getting ... er, you know, situations in parts are getting very warm," McCormack said, before indicating the government was taking sensible action on climate change - which was the kind of action that didn't inconvenience anyone, and particularly not the coal industry.
The deputy prime minister also thought Bandt, the bloke he kept name-checking, and those climate protestors in Melbourne, were getting "way too much publicity; they crave for that, they yearn for that". These people, he asserted, were "inner-city raving lunatics".
There was an election in May, and the raving lunatics lost, so rather than just persisting there post-defeat, occupying 48.5% of the public space, losers should just shut up and let the non-ravers get on with putting the fires out. Because when you lose an election, all alternative policies, ideas and insights, whether informed by evidence or not, are cancelled - a new take on democracy for sure, but Michael is up for that kind of thing. Fresh thinking. Innovation.
Given our prime minister is currently less than calm - either because he's under pressure and identifying an enemy and picking a fight with them creates a pleasing distraction, or because he believes his intermittently coherent "I'm OK and the rest of you are weirdos" sermonising is a political masterstroke - it is probably best that the rest of us remain perfectly tranquil.
Let me say this next bit very clearly. The best way to decline Michael's now rolling invitation to be tribal is to respond with reason, not with emotion.
With that basic objective in mind a couple of things can be noted.
Dear Michael. It is possible to do more than one thing at once.
Perhaps multitasking has never been a particularly strength of the deputy prime minister's, and that's fine, because juggling is certainly not for everyone, but I'll venture it is possible for emergency services to extinguish fires and for politicians and various experts to speak informatively about the underlying causes of fires so catastrophic that they have been designated a state of emergency in the middle of November, not in mid-to-late summer.
I reckon those things can happen simultaneously - both the analysing and the doing - without anything terrible happening or without anything fundamental being compromised.
I think we are that clever. Truly, I do.
To nominate just one example of how to do this, Richard Thornton, the chief executive of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, did this very successfully on Monday. He was asked whether now was an appropriate time to talk about climate change. Thornton said: "It's always a good time to have a conversation around . what the impacts of climate change are going to be."
He said it was too early to say definitively these particular fires were the result of climate change, but "what we are seeing, and what we do know, is fire seasons are starting earlier".
"We know that cumulatively over the length of the fire season, there is a higher amount of fire danger during those times, so we've got a 1C increase in temperature over the long-term averages. All of the normal variations that we see between good years and bad years, now sits on top of an extra 1C in temperature - and that drives our fire weather that we see."
Another couple of things can be noted. The record of all governments, policy wise, is a relevant consideration. Not just some days, between the hours of 9 and 5, Tuesday to Thursday. But all days, at all hours. It's not the only thing to talk about in the middle of an emergency, but it shouldn't be off limits either. Bushfires don't cancel accountability.
Last thing. People worried about climate change, and the Coalition's lack of policy action in this country, and the lack of action globally on the part of the big emitters, and the cumulative, potentially catastrophic consequences of that lack of action for human existence are not confined to an inner-city cabal.
While the Coalition really wants climate change to be a story where an apocalyptic, sneering inner-city cabal is pitted against the sensible ones in just enough electorates to maintain Scott Morrison's continued occupation of the prime ministership - the reality eclipses the graphic novel.
People are worried about their future in the cities and in the region. Farmers hand-feeding their stock in a crippling drought are worried about climate change. People currently preparing their fire plans, and fleeing the flames, are also worried about climate change.
Just to be clear.
Worrying about climate change, worrying about whether enough is being done, worrying enough to try and do something, is not a manifestation of lunacy.
Lunacy is not worrying about it.