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Climate change is here despite denial

By Lyn Bender - posted Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Anonymous memoir:

First the Pacific Islands & Maldives were inundated but I didn't worry because they were low lying anyway. New Orleans was vanquished by hurricanes but they have always had storms. Then there were droughts and food and water shortages in Africa exacerbating conflict and displacing people. But Africa had always been dry. The Philippines had a mega typhoon, but it was typhoon season. There were extreme heat waves & fires in Australia, but it's always been hot, and we have always had fires. I turned up the air conditioner and watched the tennis plasma TV. Then sea levels started rising and there were long fire seasons and whole towns burned. Infrastructure & the economy began to crumble. There were food & water shortages

Climate Change is happening around me now. Wish something had been done years ago.

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Seems it never rains in Southern California. But California Dreamin' has become a California Dryin' nightmare and many are praying for the drought to end.

California has hit its driest point in 500 years. With rainfall of 7.38 inches state-wide which is 13 to15 inches below average and 2.42 inches below the previous driest year in 1898. If figures don't arrest your attention perhaps pictures will. But although California has historically been vulnerable to drought throw CO2 (emissions from burning fossil fuels) into the mix and 'Laid Back California' may be heading for a super stressful mega drought. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency. "We do not know how much our current problem derives from the build up of heat trapping gasses but we can take it as a warning of things to come." In other words a red flag, warning sign, canary in the mine, portent for the future, of the impact of human-induced climate change. Australia should heed the warning.

The IPCC (U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) predicted in report after report that weather patterns would intensify and extreme weather events would become increasingly common. Now with the release of its 5th report its message is becoming more shrill and unequivocal, but who is really listening?

Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, was reported as saying "it was for governments to take action based on the science produced by the panel, consisting of thousands of pages of detail, drawing on the work of more than 800 scientists and hundreds of scientific papers".

I am not a climate scientist so I can appreciate the pithy distillation of the evidence, (that is happening before our eyes) conveyed by Rajendra Pachauri.

The evidence is incontrovertible. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, sea levels have risen, glaciers and arctic ice are rapidly melting, the concentration of greenhouse gases has risen.

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In Australia we are also experiencing the impact of warming. Australia had its hottest year on record in 2013 a pattern ominously intensifying in 2014. Long heat waves extreme fire danger and a lengthening fire season, are all part of the new normal.

While some Australians are alarmed at climate change inaction, few seem to understand that it is not a thing that will occur in the long distant future, but a calamity that is already upon us. Still fewer seem to recognize that it is not static or something that we can decide to turn off if things get really bad. If we do nothing to curb emissions the earth's temperature will rise inexorably to an untenable 4 degrees by the end of the century.

But it could continue on beyond this, because of feedback loops already in train that cannot be arrested or reversed, once they have taken hold. These are the tipping points that Al Gore referred to in his ground breaking wakeup call of 2005, An Inconvenient Truth. Since the time that this film was made there has been some variation noted in the predictions but the basic premise is substantiated. In fact IPCC predictions have been conservative and have underestimated climate change. But a 4 degrees warmer Australia would be damn well unbearable, if not impossible.

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About the Author

Lyn Bender is a psychologist in private practice. She is a former manager of Lifeline Melbourne and is working on her first novel.

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