And while fires are not uncommon for this time of year, the scale and intensity of what we are seeing is unprecedented
As the Bureau of Meteorology noted recently, 2013 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record. Over late 2012 and 2013 Australia experienced the “Angry Summer” as fires devastated parts of New South Wales and Tasmania.
Less than year later, fires equal to those of the Angry Summer are upon us again.
For those familiar with the science of climate change this is to be expected. Fire plays an important part in Australia’s landscape, but we’re now seeing the fire season become longer.
We’ve known this, indeed there isn’t a government or relevant agency that hasn’t been told this by experts.
Of course, attributing individual events to climate change can be tricky; however the events in New Wales are clearly indicative of the profound changes to Australia’s climate.
Thus when Adam Bandt, the Green’s member for Melbourne tweeted the following:
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) October 17, 2013
…the conservative media erupted in outrage.
Staff writers at the Herald Sun harrumphed Bandt was making “political mileage” of the fires:
PEOPLE’S lives are at risk. Houses have been lost. At latest count there are at least 40 homes burned to the ground. That number will almost certainly rise.
It is a shocking, distressing time right now in eastern New South Wales. The sky above Sydney is thick with smoke. Ash is falling from the sky in many suburbs. A dry southerly change due any minute may only make things worse as the fires change course.
So what does Greens MP Adam Bandt do?
He ignores the unfolding human tragedy and pushes his political barrow on Twitter.
How dare Bandt link unprecedented extreme weather events to climate change!
It’s almost as if climate change was real and having an actual impact on ordinary citizens.
Perish the thought that anyone should make the connection.
Or that we should seek to implement policies that reduce the impact of climate change.
Bandt has stood by his comments (see this ABC interview), and so he should.
But that won’t make those desperately in denial happy: “Shhhhh. The planet is burning. Whatever you do, don’t mention climate change. People just might want to do something about it.”