I wrote the below article back on the 1st of December, 2014. It was written after reading that the 2014 Australian spring was the hottest on record and that November, 2014 had been the second hottest on record. Both records have since been smashed.
In the 17 months since, we’ve experienced heartbreaking droughts in Asia, Australia and the Americas, horrendous forest fires and massive cyclones and hurricanes. Iceland has experienced a record glacial melt this northern spring with the melt a full month ahead of the long term average. There have been significant crop failures in many countries due to both drought and, in Brazil, flooding rains. Hydro-electric power stations in the Philippines are being shut down because there is no water to turn the turbines!
Weather has simply become increasingly erratic and extreme. In fact, each of the last six months has created a new, unenviable record in terms of increasing global temperatures above the long term average.
Many climate scientists and meteorologists now believe that it is impossible to contain warming to the 2 degree Celsius target set at the Paris talks last November. I’m not a climate scientist so I can only comment on the things I see, feel and read each day. For example, that as recently as two days ago temperatures here in South-East Queensland were still 4 – 6 degrees above the long term average. And so to the original article…
I know that climate change is a constant. That’s indisputable by even the greatest skeptic. We’re going through a period of global warming… also undeniable. The real questions are whether humankind is a major factor and how close is the ‘tipping point’.
On the first question, skeptics argue that there have been many periods in Earth’s history where it has been hot and dry. True. But humans didn’t exist then and most of, if not all of the mammals – and other animals – that existed just two million years ago don’t exist today. They couldn’t adapt!
Meanwhile, in excess of 7 billion humans have taken over most of the world, irrevocably changing the environment, burning carbon, in one form or another (wood, gas, oil, coal, dung) every day to make their artificial environment more amenable to their needs. They have cleared massive forests to graze livestock, grow crops, fuel ovens and build homes, fences, railways and a million other things. In Australia alone, already the world’s driest continent (ignoring Antarctica), we have destroyed 95% of the rain-forests! That is NOT a typo! Repeat… 95%. Add to that the millions of acres of Australian Cedar cut down in the 19th century – most of it for fuel in steam ships!!!
Over the past few years I have seen thousands of hectares of forest cleared – and I mean clear felled without a single tree left standing – all within 10 kilometres of my home. Some of that land is for badly planned, benched housing estates. Most is for industrial development. Both result in urban deserts!
It is beyond my comprehension that any rational thinker can argue that we – all 7 billion + of us, are NOT the problem.
Feel free to argue but you had best do it quickly because I am now at the second issue… the tipping point. It’s close! It’s very, very close! The average temperature this Australian spring was 1.5c above the mean. That is, climatically speaking, a massive number!
If you want your genes to survive more than another two or three generations, I suggest you get out and plant a few trees to replace all those you have – undoubtedly innocently – helped destroy.
Imagine what it would mean if we could plant a tree for every man, woman and child living today.
As a parent, I hope I’m wrong and that the skeptics are right. In the meantime, I keep planting trees. Are you planting your share?