Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change: Dust to dust

Source: Chris Button (Sydney Morning Herald 23 September 2009)

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

I’m staying in Queensland’s amazing Glass House Mountains this week. It is mid Spring. On Tuesday night we had spectacular lightning, a hailstorm and an electricity blackout. Yesterday bushfires were fanned by intense winds.

When we travelled through parts of Queensland in August, temperatures were up to 10° Celsius above the average for the end of winter. Wildfires raged as bushfire season came early to many parts of Australia.

More recently Sydney and then South East Queensland disappeared in clouds of dust as winds blew large quantities of the degraded inland’s topsoil out to sea.

Extreme temperatures and parched forests combined to bring tragedy to Victorians on Black Saturday last February.

Unseasonable weather? Definitely!
Climate change? Global warming from greenhouse gases? Who knows.

When do extended, seemingly endless droughts like the one in South Eastern Australia become permanent climate patterns? Drought, storms and floods are the Aussie climate currency.

But will she be right, mate?

Could the climate change sceptics be right in their disputes with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? Is this it all just a storm in a cliché?

Will the worst scenarios play out this century with the loss of national icons such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu National Park? Is extreme weather the unavoidable lasting legacy of the carbon economy if we don’t act decisively right now?

Both sides accuse the other of scare tactics? CC advocates present apocalyptic visions of rising sea levels, melting polar ice, escalating natural disasters.

Those who would do nothing make a virtue of their minority position within scientific opinion. Poor Science, cyclical changes, statistical glitches and blips are to blame, not human action. The globe is in fact cooling. The polar caps are expanding not shrinking. Carbon reduction through emissions trading schemes will ruin already fragile economies without achieving anything.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like an environmental argument at all. Rather, it has all the hallmarks of an ideological dogfight. Do scientists see different data if they peer into their scopes with left rather than right eye?

Ultimately we have to choose. To act or not to act. My money is on strong action to reduce greenhouse gases. The risk of inaction is too great if the sceptics are wrong. Doing nothing may be the most dangerous form of action. Omission is not always neutral.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle is the pessimism and cynicism that is growing as we feel increasingly helpless and impotent. Copenhagen is a chance to move forward. Once the hard decisions are made, we may be able to stop some of the worst damage. We may also create a political climate change that restores our sense of direction.

It’s time to open doors to innovative solutions that will forge a more livable world for both developed and developing nations.

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1 comment:

Solana Larsen said...

The benefits of changing the way we treat nature for the better are so great, even the climate change skeptics ought to support!

Happy Blog Action Day.

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