Debunked – BBC News Video Which Supposedly ‘Debunks’ #ArsonEmergency Claim



The BBC are at it again with their fake news propaganda. This time they set themselves the task of debunking claims of an arson emergency re. the Australian bushfires. Here’s the video:

First off the presenter quotes some ‘research’ which supposedly demonstrates that around a third of Twitter accounts posting the #ArsonEmergency hashtag are bots. Then he quotes an academic, Dr Timothy Graham, from Queensland University, who is waffling about the usual ‘conspiracy theorists’ promoting distrust in scientific expertise and spreading global disinformation, blah, blah, blah. Just your typical Lew type conpiracy theories posited by ‘experts’ in order to try and explain rational scepticism.

Then he shows this image of a headline of an article which clearly claims that almost 200 people across Australia have been arrested for deliberately starting bushfires:

Screenshot_2020-01-12 Debunking Australia 'arson emergency' claims

Then he proceeds to ‘debunk’ this claim as follows:

“Go into the article and you will see the figure is 183. That’s been found to be misleading because it includes minor offences like breaching a fire ban . . . . . not deliberately lighting a fire. In fact, police in New South Wales say the number of people actually charged with lighting a fire is 24.”

Note the sleight of hand there? The presenter deftly goes from talking about Australia as a whole – which was the headline claim on the article he’s ‘debunking’ to talking about New South Wales only where indeed, according to NSW police, 24 adults have been charged with arson.

Now here’s where it gets decidedly murky because NSW police figures confirm that 183 were arrested for fire offences:

Since Friday 8 November 2019, legal action – which ranges from cautions through to criminal charges – has been taken against 183 people – including 40 juveniles – for 205 bushfire-related offences.

Of note:

    • 24 people have been charged over alleged deliberately-lit bushfires
    • 53 people have had legal actions for allegedly failing to comply with a total fire ban, and
    • 47 people have had legal actions for allegedly discarding a lighted cigarette or match on land.

The BBC and others are making a big deal about the fact that ‘only’ 24 people have been charged with arson and the BBC would like you to think that this is throughout Australia, but it’s not, it’s in NSW. Those other lesser offences amount to 100. 100 plus 24 is 124. But 183 people had legal action taken against them for 205 offences. So what was happened to the mysterious missing 59 people unaccounted for? What bushfire offences were they arrested for? How many offences did they commit?

The BBC claims that Victoria police have denied there is any evidence of deliberately lit fires in Gippsland and indeed this appears to be what a spokesman said:

A Victoria Police spokesperson told The Guardian that “there is currently no intelligence to indicate that the fires in East Gippsland and the North East have been caused by arson or any other suspicious behaviour.”

But so what? This is just two regions. It is a fact that 43 people have been arrested for lighting bushfires in 2019 in Victoria:

Another element of the circulated “arson emergency” story is the claim that 43 people have been charged in Victoria with arson.

However, this refers to the number of people charged with deliberately lighting fires in the entire year of 2019, including much of the previous summer.

I can’t find info on how many of those were arrested this fire season. Then there is Queensland. The police there have moved to rubbish media reports that 101 people have been arrested for arson:

The claim 101 people in Queensland have been arrested for arson this summer has also been circulated.

However, Queensland police said the figure includes a broader range of fire offences, including breaching of total fire bans, and was not a total of arrests, but a total of “police enforcement actions”.

Queensland police told local media that of the total reported bushfires in the state between 10 September and 8 January, around 10 per cent are believed to have been deliberately lit.

That may be the case. However, a look at Queensland’s actual recorded crime statistics reveals that arson cases in September 2019 and November 2019 spiked significantly (185 cases recorded in each month). This may not be just bushfire arson of course, but it’s ‘odd’ is it not that there is this huge spike in arson cases just when Australia has experienced some of the worst bushfires in living memory?

Screenshot_2020-01-12 Queensland Crime Statistics - Queensland Police News

That’s a total of 492 arson offences in the the three months Sept-Nov 2019. But the police maintain that only 10% of wildfires over the longer period from Sept-Jan have been deliberately lit.

The Mail prints this graphic. I don’t know what their sources were but presumably they too are speading disinformation about arson arrests in Australian states – however they appear to be correct re. NSW and Victoria.


Now it is very curious, is it not, that the total of arrests for arson across Australia, according to the Mail’s figures above, is also 183 – exactly the same amount as have been arrested for all various fire offences in NSW! I believe this has led to some confusion in the media. It also means, if the Mail’s figures are correct (Queensland police dispute 101 arrests for deliberately starting bushfires), that the Summit News headline which the BBC were so at pains to debunk – that nearly 200 people have been arrested for arson across Australia – is correct. It is notable that in ‘debunking’ this figure, the BBC did not mention Queensland, where the main course of the discrepancy may or may not lie.

There are numerous stories in the media of arsonists being arrested or pursued for starting bushfires. Are all those reports bogus? Here are just two examples of the latest:

So what is going on? Arson is evidently a huge problem, but it is being downplayed by climate activists and the media in favour of blaming these fires on climate change and it would seem that even the police themselves might be reluctant to reveal the true nature of the problem. Even the Conversation acknowledges that 85% of bushfires are ignited by humans and says:

Research has shown about 8% of officially recorded vegetation fires were attributed to malicious lighting, and another 22% as suspicious. However, about 40% of officially recorded vegetation fires did not have an assigned cause. When unassigned bushfires were investigated by fire investigators, the majority were found to be maliciously lit.

This simply does not square with the counter-intelligence being put about by climate activists desperate to downplay the role of arson and correspondingly falsely exaggerate the role played by climate change whilst attempting to deligitimise the #ArsonEmergency tag as some sort of bot-powered disinformation campaign. It doesn’t square with Queensland police statements that arson was only a factor in 10% of bushfires. Or with news media reports. What is almost certain is that bushfire ignition is overwhelmingly a human problem and not, as some climate change fanatics claim, a predominantly dry-lightning problem. Arson features significantly in that human problem, maybe very significantly.


  1. “as some sort of bot-powered disinformation campaign”

    has/is now the beeb & tv MSM buzz word for “only take your news from us, the trusted source”

    they really think we are stupid.

    ps – from that link other links “”

    climate porn at it’s best, pick traumatised people to push your POV.


  2. On WUWT, Nic Stokes is leading the campaign to discredit the 183. He just goes with the 24 and never checked the maths – looks like he has been caught out with poor maths. Not a good look for a climate modeler, or is that just indicative of their profession?


  3. It is usually safe to assume that the truth is the opposite of what the BBC says:
    “Why you cannot trust BBC News”.
    “Is that true or did you hear it on the BBC?”


  4. In another video, the same guy Ros Atkins “investigates” the claims that Greens haven’t supported controlled hazard-reducing burns. His evidence consists of quoting what the Greens currently have on their website – that they support it where appropriate. It doesn’t seem to occur to him to investigate that claim.
    Like Harrabin, it’s not clear whether he’s actually dishonest or just biased, stupid and gullible.

    Liked by 1 person

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