Kangaroo Island Mayor To Obama: Stop Linking Climate Change To Bushfires
As almost half of Australia’s third-largest island burned, its Mayor used social media to criticize former US president Barack Obama for connecting what he called “the very real and very urgent consequences of climate change” with Australia’s bushfires.
Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly responded to a tweet by Barack Obama by saying climate change was not connected with the bushfire that has burnt almost half of the 4,400-square-kilometre island.
“So, so foolish in your pronouncement. My respect for you has totally evaporated. Pathetic,” Mr. Pengilly said of the former president on Twitter.
Mr. Obama had tweeted a New York magazine article criticizing the lack of international media coverage of the blazes.
Twitter users called Mr. Pengilly “puerile” and a “climate change denier”.
“Should be thrown on the political rubbish heap,” one user said.
Others, though, supported him. Mark Bell said Mr. Pengilly had “led from the front” in responding to the Kangaroo Island bushfires.
He said it was “very, very unlikely” Mr. Pengilly would have trouble being re-elected.
“He is a man of the land, a CFS [fire] volunteer and has been doing an amazing job of leading the community,” Mr. Bell tweeted.
Mr. Pengilly told ABC News that Mr. Obama’s tweet “wasn’t helpful”.
“I don’t think he should have entered into it,” he said.
He said climate change was “not connected” with the Kangaroo Island fires since bushfires would have regularly ravaged the island even before European settlement.
“They would have just burned themselves out until they got rained on,” he said.
Mayor told Parliament climate change was ‘nonsense’
Mr. Pengilly was a state Liberal MP from 2006 to 2018.
In 2011, he told Parliament climate change was “nonsense”, adding he had “grave doubts about any climate change”.
Last September, Mr. Pengilly criticized students participating in a climate change protest.
“I am disgusted with kids being used in such a manner.”
He quit Parliament in 2018 and was elected Mayor of Kangaroo Island later that year.
He was chairman of the South Australian Country Fire Service board from 1995 to 2000.
Read rest at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)