15 October 2009
“We have 130 countries represented by Blog Action Day bloggers, and climate change impacts us all.”
It’s true that individual weather events like last month’s dust storm here in Sydney mean little by themselves. Nor is the fact that last month was 3C above average for September in itself significant. Climate is a much bigger picture. Climate change means a shift in the current climate zones over time, and such shifts have characterised Earth’s story down the millennia. Sydney Harbour’s grand entrance was once much further from the sea, with the Eora roaming at least fifteen kilometres further to the east than we can go today. And that in the longer story is just a blip too.
So if it always has been going on – in fact climate stasis would be the real surprise – why the fuss now? Essentially it is because the majority of climatologists and many other eminent scientists believe what we are seeing today is in greater measure than ever before “anthropogenic” – that is, caused in much larger measure than before by human activity. Given the population growth in the past century and the nature of our industrial and agricultural activities over the past two centuries this is hardly surprising. That the great river systems are stressed and in some cases very ill is accepted by everyone. That much land has been poisoned, that deforestation has been unprecedented, that desertification and salination are on the rise no-one denies.
But there are still those who baulk at anthropogenic climate change and see such talk as alarmist. Indeed some of the projections may need to be looked at critically, and it is true that some parts of the world will be better off as a result of climate change, but the consensus picture that has emerged in recent years is of an overall crisis situation that will have in some parts of the world catastrophic consequences. Some properties in Sydney that now boast water views may be glad of land views in the future, while some properties where no glimpse of the Harbour or ocean can now be had may look forward to tying up their yachts at the bottom of the garden.
I am not any kind of scientist. I do not propose to argue here one way or the other. There is a section of the side bar where you can explore the arguments from people much more qualified than I am. Having reviewed the information there and following quite a bit of reading – I recommend The Rough Guide to Climate Change – I am not a sceptic.
Let’s hope Copenhagen makes some progress.
Here in Australia there are two issues that concern me. I really do think we need to look again at nuclear power. I also think we need a serious discussion about the level of population that is sustainable in this very strange country with its very thin veneer of suitable land and water.