We owe it to those who perished, as well as their families and other loved ones, to get the message out to our Governments that climate change is upon us now. We can no longer put up half-baked solutions. See the article below from David Spratt, author of Climate Code Red. And, as the link to Professor David Karoly’s article further below says, these fires will be more frequent in 10 or 20 years. This is climate change. Some might see this as taking advantage of a tragedy. I think it is a responsibility. This is not a politicial issue; this is a moral issue, indeed as Kevin Rudd pointed out, the great moral issue of our time. A moral issue demands a moral response. I believe that these fires expose how pathetically inept Kevin Rudd’s 5% target really is. Hopefully after these fires, this timid target will no longer be politically feasible. The article and links below are sobering reading.
Living in Victoria, the bushfire apocalypse of the last few days has brought a curious response from politicians, who are keen to be seen and heard about everything except the elephant in the room: climate change. Last Sunday when Victoria erupted into flames, it was the hottest day on record at 46.4C in Melbourne and 48.8C was recorded in Hopetoun, following almost immediately after 35 days without rain. This is beyond all lived experience in this part of the world.
Record temperatures and more extreme events are consistent with the projected impacts of global warming, and the horror of the last few days with up to 200 people likely to have lost their lives may be a grim warming of life in the Australian countryside with elevated temperatures, less rain and generally drier conditions, and more extreme events.
Twice in the last two weeks the Victorian premier has told us that two separate extreme weather events are “one-in-1,000-year or one-in-500-year” events. But his chief climate change advisor, Prof. David Karoly politely corrected him on the first occasion, noting that the 43C+ temperatures of 28-31 January would be “much more like the normal experience in 10 to 20 years”. By today premier Brumby was recognizing that: “There is clear evidence now that the climate is becoming more extreme. Those people that doubted it… we have had temperatures of 48 degrees.”
We know from the research that what we now find extraordinary will become almost everyday in a heated world, and then it will be too late.
Now is the time for extraordinary political action, as happened a week ago in Canberra when 500 people at the first Australian Climate Action Summit took a courageous stand and declared: “We face a climate emergency. Our vision is to work together at emergency speed to restore in a just way a safe climate in time for all people, all species and all generations.”
Just days later that climate emergency materialised in one form across regional Victoria.
The lived experience of this terrible event may have one positive outcome: to bring into wider debate the effects of global warming and why radical mitigation measures are so necessary now. It may also cast light on the limits of adaptation.
The planet cannot be traded off. There are absolute limits that should not be crossed, and doing something, but not enough, will still lead to disaster.
The following material may be of use in the next days and weeks.
David Spratt, 9 February 2009
“The heat is unusual, but it will become much more like the normal experience in 10 to 20 years” – Prof. David Karoly, University of Melbourne, AAP 30 January 2009
“But you know, unless you want to spend … huge amounts of money … you can never guarantee something against a one-in-1,000-year or one-in-500-year event. To do so would cost huge amounts of money for something that occurs just one day in 100 years.” – Victorian Premier, John Brumby, 2 February 2009
Fires the deadly inevitability of climate change
Freya Mathews, The Age, February 10, 2009
The disaster challenges the Government to accept evident truths.
Dr Greg Holland and Professor David Karoly join Lateline
ABC TV Lateline, 9 August 2009
Dr Greg Holland of the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research and the Victorian Government’s chief climate change adviser Professor David Karoly join Lateline live from Melbourne.
Fires, floods pressure Australia government on climate
James Grubel, Reuters, 9 February 2009
Australia’s deadliest wildfires increased pressure on the national government to take firm action on climate change on Monday as scientists said global warming likely contributed to conditions that fueled the disaster.
It will only get worse as climate changes
Jonathan Pearlman, Canberra Times, 9 February 2009
Australia faces “a very dangerous decade or decades” as climate change increases the intensity of fires and lengthens the bushfire season, scientists and environmentalists warn.
Are we underprepared for the bushfire threat?
Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) and Australian Science Media Centre briefing, 29 January 2009
LOTS OF MATERIAL AT BUSHFIRE CRC, including:
Climate change and its impact on the management of bushfire
Bushfire Weather in Southeast Australia: Recent Trends and Projected Climate Change Impacts
C. Lucas, K. Hennessy, G. Mills and J. Bathols, Bushfire CRC and Australian Bureau of Meteorology
Fatal mix of high heat and drought
Asa Wahlquist, The Australian, February 09, 2009
Weather experts have blamed record temperatures, a sustained drought and climate change for the bushfires that devastated Victoria and are expected to have claimed up to 100 lives over the weekend.
Is there a link between Adelaide’s heatwave and global warming?
Barry Brook, bravenewclimate, 3 February 2009