Ben O'Neill has written a superb piece on the excellent Von Mises website about the Victorian Bushfires. Here is a brief synopsis of his arguments. Click here to read the full paper.
Australia last month experienced its most devastating bushfires in history. Fires raged in the state of Victoria on an unprecedented scale, killing over 200 people and destroying 1,834 homes. By comparison the 1983 “Ash Wednesday" bushfire killed 75 people and back in 1939 on “Black Friday" 71 people died. In fact, in all previous such fires - since reporting of bushfires started in the 17th century - a total of 642 have perished.
The immediate possible causes of the fires include arson, discarded cigarette butts, faulty power lines and lightning strikes. However, these minor events escalated into infernos only because of extremely high fuel loads throughout the state's bushland. The reason?
For years, local governments have neglected to manage fire hazards on their land in order to be faithful to the principles of environmentalism — a philosophy that contends that nature has intrinsic value that must be preserved, regardless of any use it has to man. The result has been that people have sacrificed their prosperity and even survival in an attempt to preserve the unspoiled sanctity of nature.