What are your dinner table conversations about the wild weather we are experiencing? The metres of rain in Townsville? The unstoppable bushfires in Tasmania? The record temperatures across Australia? Or the fish kills in the drying Murray Darling River system?
Talking with family, I find opinion is divided. Some remember the drought of ’45, the Cygna grounding of ’75, the Pasha Bulker of ’07 and say nothing has changed. But for me, the climate is rapidly changing.
The unique rainforest, button grass plains and heathlands of the southwestern Tasmania wildlands have begun to vanish. Where they can, birds and other animals are moving to new locations - spare a thought for the alpine pygmy possum of the Snowy Mountains.
In it’s 2010 climate change statement, the Australian Museum warned “that climate change poses a serious environmental, economic and social threat to our current way of life and to the security of future generations across the globe.”
The UK Met Office reports the world is in the middle of what is likely to be the warmest 10 years since records began in 1850, and is forecasting temperatures for each of the next five years are likely to be at, or above, one degree celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.
Our own Bureau of Meteorology projects further increases in sea and air temperatures, with more hot days and marine heatwaves, and fewer cool extremes, further sea level rise and ocean acidification, and decreases in rainfall across southern Australia, with more time in drought, but an increase in intense heavy rainfall throughout Australia.
Tens of millions will be forced from their homes by climate change in the next decade, creating the biggest environmental migrant refugee crisis ever seen. Now is the time to call for planning of the mitigation and adaptive responses we need to put Australia in a strong position for the rest of this century - to plan, co-ordinate and manage the transition to the warming world, the move to renewable energy, and to cope with inevitable and forced population growth.