Weather events in southern Australia have shocked and surprised our communities. Noticeably missing from the discussions about these events are the effects of climate change and human modification of natural systems that might exacerbate these kinds of events. This was no doubt catastrophic weather, however, these are the kind of events predicted by climate change scientists. I know some would say it’s a big call to blame the weather on climate change, however it’s not as silly as blaming it on renewable energy as Malcolm Turnball and colleagues did. Talk about any opportunity to support your coal burning, party funding mates!
While there is no single factor big enough to blame these weather events on. Modified landscapes use water differently to the ecologies that developed over millennia with larger peak loads as a result. Our land management plays a part in the flooding cycle, we can alleviate flooding by avoiding building dams in waterways, protecting and restoring vegetation along waterways systems of water harvesting to slow down the water and distribute it in the landscape and strategically planting trees to act as living groundwater pumps. Learning to live within our environmental constraints is our only option. A recent Facebook meme going around posits that the biggest danger to our planet is in fact resistant humans. We have a tendency to believe only what we have experienced in our lifetimes and as such it takes a leap of faith to believe in what others say.
A recent CSIRO study showed that only about 20 per cent of people are really engaged in science and a further 30 per cent are cautiously interested. The rest of us are suspicious or disengaged.
When issues such as climate change become political footballs, this further stymies debate. Instead of just talking about fact and opinion, we are at risk of being judged as a sign of our alignments to a political party.
The Greens aren’t just towing the party line on climate change, we really do accept the overwhelming scientific evidence.
My wish is that we take time as a local, national and global community to better understand our natural ecosystems and how they are changing.
Saan Ecker, Burrinjuck Greens