Weather change is proving the climate crisis here now

Graphic from Sky News

Contributed by Joe Montero

It’s a no brainer. The planet is worming up and not enough is being done to counter it. The world is witnessing a major change in weather patterns, and we are having our own here in Australia.

Bushfires are ranging in Western Australia, on the heels of the longest heat wave ever. The wheat belt has been hit. Famers are facing ruin and power outages have hit homes and businesses. It is not good for the local economy, and this will affect food process and the Australian economy. Lives have been uprooted.

Photo by Anthony Pancia/ABC News: A plume of smoke from bushfires near Bridgetown in Western Australia’s south

Last year it was devastating fires in the Eastern States. This year it’s been floods, and the south, down to the Victorian coast, has been experiencing near tropical humidity and heat.

Fire chiefs are saying that fires are becoming more frequent and intense. The Bureau of Metereology and the CSIRO both say climate change has led to longer bushfire seasons and an increase in the average number of high-risk fire days.

DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm about the fire at Bridgetown in West Australia,

“Really rapid rates of spread were fed back to us in terms of reports from the fire ground … particularly difficult conditions, 42 degrees in Bridgetown yesterday, minus one dew point and really strong winds which made this fire incredibly difficult to control”. 

Photo from ABC News: DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm about the fire at Bridgetown in Western Australia

This is the shift in complicated weather patterns, sand it is only a mild taste of what is to come, unless there is a big change in the way the climate crisis is treated.

Experts are now saying we are heading to 2 degrees centigrade warming, whatever action is taken. This is because of past neglect. Further neglect will mean that what we are seeing now is only mild compared with what is at store.

There is evidence that the Covid pandemic is likely related to rising temperatures, which is bringing attention to the impact on health and the health system. Along with more disease, there is the threat to food and water supplies, brought about by devastation of our flora and fauna.

Despite the danger, the climate crisis is back page of the back page of the national agenda. This must change.

Last year’s global climate summit in Glasgow was a disaster, getting an agreement on substantially nothing but creating investment opportunities for the big banks, through the financing of projects, without a mechanism to ensure they contribute to carbon emission reduction.

The problem is that like for everything else, political leaders, including Australian political leaders, will only consider a neoliberal approach to the problem. This is that action on the climate crisis can only be investor led, and that government must not interfere, unless it is lending investors a helping hand.

If this was the answer it would have been working by now. It isn’t and this must be recognised. A very different approach is needed. It starts by admitting the problem and continues by taking sufficient measures to make real progress. These entail several essential directions.

A quick shift from dependence on fossil fuels. Sustainable power generation is an obvious need. So is a shift away from petrol, diesel, and gas-based transport. Not always so well understood, yet nevertheless just as important is a shift from a carbon dependent economy to an economy based on sustainable technologies and practices.

Least talked about, yet as important as the above directions, is that change requires acceptance and the participation of society. This means that it must be structured and applied in a way that guarantees the immediate needs of individuals and communities, generates new and decent jobs, as well as providing opportunities for the future.

This is possible. All it requires is the political will. Since our political leaders are proving to provide far less than is required of them, it is up to the rest of us to make the difference. There is little use in moaning and doing little else. Change requires millions of us being active. This means campaigning for change and coming to terms with the fact is it us who must bring it about.

The shift needed to respond to the climate crisis can come about, when enough people move from pleading, to building the capacity to implement change in the face of unwilling leadership. There is no way from getting around the needs to build a democratic, organic, and organised movement, which becomes a decisive force in local affairs, and this translates to the regional, state, and national stages.

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