M Perkins , Wollongbar
In recent times, there has been significant media coverage of discussion around climate change.
Published letters include those authored by some who do not believe the climate has changed, or that it will continue to change without a change in human behaviour. These authors direct readers to read the work of Scientist ‘A’. A few weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report on the state of the climate globally. This Report was authored by 234 scientists from 66 countries who volunteered their time, over and above their commitments to their day jobs.
These 234 highly scientifically-qualified individuals gave their time, over three years and thousands of hours, to evaluate more than 14,000 research papers published since 2013. The resulting comprehensive Report then went out for two rounds of expert and government review. After these two reviews, the scientists – in their own time – responded to 78,007 technical queries, which included meetings across several times zones, to ensure the final Report was accurate.
I quote Dr Joelle Gergis, from the Australian National University, a lead author on IPPC Sixth Assessment Report: ‘Our latest Report is a terrifying catalogue of how climate change is now affecting every continent and ocean on Earth. Warming unseen in 125,000 years. Ocean acidification reaching depths of 2,000 metres. Melting glaciers in densely populated lands… Carbon dioxide levels the highest they have been in at least two million years.’
Dr Gergis adds, ‘Recently observed extremes, such as the devastating conditions experienced in northern Europe, China and India in July, are exactly what we expect as climate change continues to play out. Close to a year’s worth of rain fell in just three days in… Southern China.’
This resulted in catastrophic flooding that affected 14 million people. In spite of this unprecedented effort to ensure a current, comprehensive and accurate Report, the scientific reality seems to be far from the ‘reality’ espoused by many of our political decision makers.
Here, I’m thinking of the ‘blurtings’ of Matt Canavan (the fires have not started owing to climate change), George Christensen (arson is to blame for the bushfires), Barnaby Joyce (it’s just the oscillation of the seasons. There’s a change in the magnetic field of the sun).
While Scott Morrison might say his government’s Climate Policy is ‘evolving’, no policy change can be achieved without the support of the abovementioned outspoken deniers. One wonders how far ahead these individuals are thinking beyond the next election. Are they truly even thinking about the lives of their children, grandchildren and future generations? Sadly, I think not.