Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Apparently Anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for Australia’s wild weather swings between drought and flood. But “it’s not too late to forestall a dystopian future that alternates between Mad Max and Waterworld.”.
It’s not too late for Australia to forestall a dystopian future that alternates between Mad Max and Waterworld
Catastrophic fires and devastating floods are part of Australia’s harsh new climate reality. The country must do its part to lower carbon emissions
year ago I lived through the Black Summer. I had arrived in Sydney in mid-December 2019 to collaborate with Australian researchers studying the impacts of climate change on extreme weather events. Instead of studying those events, however, I ended up experiencing them.
Even in the confines of my apartment in Coogee, looking out over the Pacific, I could smell the smoke from the massive bushfires blazing across New South Wales. As I flew to Canberra to participate in a special “bushfires” episode of the ABC show Q+A, I witnessed mountains ablaze with fire. One man I metduring my stay lost most of his 180-year-old family farm in the fires that ravaged south-east New South Wales near Milton.
My experiences indelibly coloured the book I was writing on the climate crisis at the time called The New Climate War.
Tragically, many of the same towns that were devastated by the massive bushfires a little more than a year ago found themselves under siege from these historic floods. A climate contrarian would cry foul: “You climate scientists can’t make up your mind. Is climate change making it wetter or drier?” But in fact, that’s a false choice: It’s both.
Australians can’t seem to catch a break. But it’s not too late to forestall a dystopian future that alternates between Mad Max and Waterworld.
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/24/catastrophic-fires-and-devastating-floods-are-part-of-australias-harsh-new-climate-reality
Our rather violent weather extremes seem to have left an impression on Michael Mann. But are these extreme conditions unusual? History suggests not.
What did early explorers have to say about fire? Here are some quotes from early explorer diaries and records.
The natives were about, burning, burning, ever burning; one would think they … lived on fire instead of water.’ Ernest Giles (1889), Australia Twice Traversed.
The natives set fire to the grass which is abundant everywhere, and at that time is quite dry… The conflagration spreads until the whole country as far as the eye can reach, is in a grand and brilliant illumination.’ Report from Port Essington, in Arnhemland.
Captain James Cook wrote that his crew ‘saw upon all the Adjacent Lands and Islands a great number of smokes — a certain sign that they are inhabited … ‘
… the very extraordinary devastation by fire which the vegetable productions had suffered throughout the whole country we had traversed – George Vancouver.
I wish it would rain and cause the grass to become green, so as to stop them burning… – Stuart (1865).
…Read more: http://learnline.cdu.edu.au/units/env207/introduction/history.html
What about Mann’s assertion climate change is making the extremes worse? From a government website description of the Federation drought, 1895-1903;
In 1892 Australia had 106 million sheep, two-thirds of which were in the eastern states. By 1903 the national flock had almost halved to 54 million. The nation lost more than 40 per cent of its cattle over the same period, nearly three million in Queensland alone.
Drovers sought feed for hungry stock along travelling stock routes (known as the ‘long paddock’) or moved stock to pastures on the east coast and southern mountains where conditions were less dire.
Droving took an immense toll on sheep and cattle with losses of up to 70 per cent recorded, particularly in regions where watering points could be 100 kilometres apart. In 1902 local newspapers reported that more than 2000 steers lay dead along the Goondiwindi to Miles route in Queensland.
…Read more: https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/federation-drought
Michael Mann, What you call a land of Mad Max and Waterworld, we call home. Breathing a bit of bushfire smoke every other year, enduring floods and droughts, is as much a part of Aussie life as beach BBQs and beer, and always has been.