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Australia’s Natural Disaster Minister Denies Climate Science One Day, Believes in It the Next

Climate
Australia’s Natural Disaster Minister Denies Climate Science One Day, Believes in It the Next
Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud at Parliament House on Sept. 11 in Canberra, Australia. Tracey Nearmy / Getty Images

While more than 130 wildfires are raging across two states in eastern Australia — Queensland and New South Wales — at an unusually early part of the spring, taxing the water supplies of the drought-stricken country, the country's federal appointee for handling disasters expressed doubts that humans are causing the climate crisis. Then, the next day he made a head scratching about face and said he believes in climate science and always has, according to the Guardian.


David Littleproud, the Australian minister for water resources, drought, rural finance, natural disaster and emergency management, told the Guardian Australia on Tuesday, "I don't know if climate-change is man made."

His skepticism of the link between human activity and the climate crisis was supported by fellow members of the National Party, including the Environment Minister, Sussan Ley.

She was asked by Australia Broadcasting Company radio about Littleproud's comments.

"We have always lived on a continent which has been ravaged by fires, I am not going to become an expert on what is causing the fires," she said, as the Guardian reported."I am sure it is related to climate change, to what degree and under what circumstances, and what actions we could be taking, there is a whole range of other conversations around that."

When asked whether human-induced climate change is making bushfires more intense, Littleproud replied: "We're adapting to it as the climate continues to change and we'll continue to equip our service workers … Whether it's manmade or not is irrelevant."

And when Sky News broached the subject later in the day, Littleproud doubled down on his stance when asked if climate-change is man made, he replied, "I have no idea, but does it really matter? I am not a scientist. I haven't made an opinion one way or the other, but I don't think it really matters."

His skepticism of the link between human activity and the climate crisis was supported by fellow members of the National Party, including the Environment Minister, Sussan Ley.

She was asked by the Australia Broadcasting Company about Littleproud's comments.

"We have always lived on a continent which has been ravaged by fires, I am not going to become an expert on what is causing the fires," she said, as the Guardian reported. "I am sure it is related to climate change, to what degree and under what circumstances, and what actions we could be taking, there is a whole range of other conversations around that."

Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources Joel Fitzgibbon said that Littleproud's position distorted reality.

"The climate is changing and human activity is making a contribution so it's pretty hard to expect any meaningful action from a government when the person in charge of drought strategy is a climate change denier," he said, as SBS News reported.

Then, on Wednesday, in a dizzying reversal, Littleproud touted his humble roots and little education.

"I accept the science on manmade impact on climate change. Always have," said Littleproud in Parliament, as the Guardian reported. "I accept the science. I'm just a poor humble bloke with a year 12 education but I'm prepared to accept, prepared to accept what our scientists are telling us – it's as simple as that."

The opposition Green Party seized on Littleproud's comments, accusing him of ignoring the concerns of emergency services leaders who have warned that climate change is a major contributor to the spike in the frequency and the severity of contribution to fires.

Littleproud, for his part, has maintained that the response to the emergencies is what matters.

"Obviously the climate is changing we can't run away from that," he said to Sky News, as SBS News reported. "[W]e've got to continue to adapt our emergency services and our communities to adapt with it to keep them safe. What we should be proud of is that not one person has lost their life in this."

Colette Pichon Battle, attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Colette Pichon Battle

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