The climate that feeds you, needs you


The surrounding of Parliament House was dignified and moving, the media coverage non-existent. It made the ten and eleven o’clock news on ABC Radio but had disappeared for ever by midday. Fair enough, every newsroom makes its own call about what is hot, but the chit chat after the news on the Country Hour gave me substantial food for thought.

The weather was the news that morning. The heat wave continued across southern Australia. Fires had burned out of control across eastern Victoria for five days and 22 people had died of heat related illnesses. Farmers in Victoria reported that apricots, blueberries and tomatoes had stewed on the plant and were being ploughed into the ground or sold as pig feed.

After the news a meteorologist noted that individual temperatures were breaking century old records and the number of days above forty degrees was breaking all-time records in many areas. He also noted that the second hottest year was 2007 and that seven of the ten hottest years on record have been in the last decade.

The country hour presenter commented that it could be seen as evidence of climate change and the meteorologist said, “Well we don’t know that for sure.” The discussion of climate change stopped dead at that point and the conversation moved on to the impact of drought on farmers.

Since when did discussing most compelling examples of climate chaos that you could hope to see become taboo? I have been the first to point out that the climate is not the weather, and a single weather event cannot tell us much at all about the climate. Trends in the weather, though, tell us a great deal about the climate. Seven of the hottest years on record in the last decade tell us that the climate is warming significantly.

There is one reason for trying to keep the lid on this. To stabilise the climate we have to stop exporting coal and the government’s carbon scheme pays the coal miners billions of dollars to reduce their pollution. Worse, they will get billions more if they have to reduce it further. Polluters get paid billions and farmers get a pittance.

That’s why a thousand mums and dads were in Canberra last week and that’s why we will keep going back in larger and larger numbers until someone wakes up that air and water is more important than money and our children are going to starve if we do not take action now.

The only hope on the horizon is that the black man in the White House seems to get it, and earwax Kev will probably copy everything Obama does. If he doesn’t, we might as well start looking for a hill where we can relocate Tweed Heads and some way to stop the millions of starving Aussies from the city coming to pinch our food. Because that’s what will happen if we don’t get this right.

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