Bushfires are raging across the length and breadth of Australia, twenty-five people and over a billion animals have died. You will no doubt have seen countless images of the destruction. The scale of the fires is unprecedented. Months of hot dry weather have turned the country into a tinder box.
The above graph shows the mean average temperature for Australia for the month of December and charts how it has changed over the last 110 years. Note how the peaks have increased from the 1970’s compared with the previous decades. 2018 was a record hot year, but this was massively surpassed in December 2019. For decades many of us have been warning about global warming. This is what it looks like. This December has been an example of what 2.75 degrees of warming looks like. Ed Hawkins, the eminent professor of Climate Change at Reading University in UK, who made this graph tweeted it with the headline ‘Australia: you have just experienced the future.’
I have blogged numerous times about how Australia has failed to develop its renewable energy potential and what a succession of useless leaders they have had (See here, here, here and here). Their current prime minister, Scott Morrison, plumbs new depths of scientific illiteracy. He is the coal industry’s man.
In a blog in October I quoted the Australian Chief scientist Alan Finkel calling for an extremely rapid roll-out of renewables, from the current 20% of electricity generation up to about 700% to cover the electrification of transport, heating, cooling and industrial processes, and for major exports of electricity and hydrogen. Now Australia desperately needs the politicians capable of driving this through.
Our hearts go out to the people suffering the effects of fire, drought, flooding and other climate change induced misery in Australia and in many other countries. Things will inevitably get very much worse, but with radical global system change, a rapid end to fossil fuel use and consumer driven capitalism, we could yet avert the worst. But the time window available gets ever narrower as the hotter the planet gets the more feedback loops kick-in, making the changes more extreme, more chaotic and more difficult to either adapt to or to mitigate.