Disinformation on Australian bushfires should not be spread by ministers | Letter

A group of scientists respond after UK government minister Heather Wheeler stated that it had been ‘widely reported on social media that 75% of the fires were started by arsonists’We write as scientists alarmed that a minister has ignored scientific evidence, relying instead on grossly misleading social media sources. In the House of Commons on 9 January, Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Heather Wheeler answered a question about the Australian bushfires by stating: “Very regrettably, it is widely reported on social media that 75% of the fires were started by arsonists.”The claim that arson is a primary cause of this season’s bushfires has been comprehensively debunked: fire officers report that the majority of blazes were started by dry lightning storms. Nevertheless, social media is awash with false claims about the role of arson, obscuring the link between climate change and bushfires (Disinformation and lies are spreading faster than Australia’s bushfires, 11 January). Continue reading… … Read More


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