Destructive Weather: Sad, but not Surprising

Destructive Weather: Sad, but not Surprising

Somewhere in Collaroy in Sydney’s north, a woman is crying because the pool at her multi-million-dollar beachfront mansion just crumbled into the sea.

Earlier in the year, music-lovers who bought Southbound Festival tickets with their mining wages were devastated to learn the West Australian event was cancelled due to bushfires.

In 2011, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Barnaby Joyce wrote his $80,000 government-funded car off driving through floodwaters.

Joyce has long claimed he is “always sceptical” about global warming, but on a recent visit to his parents’ drought-ravaged property in Rutherglen, Joyce eyed the dried-up creek that flowed in his youth and said, “I start to wonder whether climate change might really be happening.”

Ya reckon?

The visible impact of climate change has reached a point of absurdity. 2015 was our hottest year on record and our 39th consecutive year with above-average global temperatures. “100-year droughts” and “100-year floods”—named for their once-a-century levels of severity—have occurred with alarming frequency the past decade. Three people have already died in the flooding caused by the storms that battered the east coast on the weekend, and at least three more are missing – not to mention the slew of bushfires that ravaged Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia at the beginning of the year.

How many more wakeup calls do we need before we start properly addressing climate change? The Condamine River in the Murray-Darling Basin has been bubbling flammable gas since 2012 due to ongoing coal-seam gas mining in the region. 93% of the Great Barrier Reef is now bleached – a fact our government ensured was kept out of the latest UN Climate Change Report because it would look bad for tourism. And now even sceptics like Tony Abbott are “spending the night on standby with the Davidson RFS flyer crew” to assist with storm damage arising from the change in climate.

Sure, the Liberal government has promised to cut carbon emissions by 26% – 28% by 2030, but experts doubt their proposed safeguards will be able to deliver the cuts required to meet the target. The Labor party has pledged to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, and claims it wants 50% of all energy to be renewable by 2030. The Greens intend to move Australia to 90% renewable energy by 2030, and want to boost clean energy finance to $30bn over the next 10 years.

But we can’t afford to wait until 2030. In fact, the world only has until roughly 2020 to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas output (by five per cent annually overall) or we will reach a “point of no return”, where no amount of emissions cuts will save us from the dangerous and potentially catastrophic impacts of global warming.

The last time carbon levels in the atmosphere were as high as they are now, humans didn’t even exist. People are already dying – in Australia and the world over. If we continue to put the economy first—supporting coal mining because it creates jobs and refusing the carbon tax because we can’t afford it—those people won’t be the last.

Cover via NT News

Gemma Clarke is the editor-in-chief of Global Hobo. She spends her time contracting tinea in foreign countries, taking afternoon naps and drinking red wine through a straw.