By chance I had a conversation with a neighbour this morning, and being a hottish day it started with the weather. I didn’t mention the question of ‘warming’, but he did, and soon admitted to reading the Herald, which was evidently going on about ‘people fudging the data’.. A story on how some years were deleted from the temperature record because they were thought unreliable, and so on to Krakatoa and god knows where else. I said “so you’re a climate change denier then” –but “Oh No”! And he wasn’t denying that something was changing ( it’s always changing), but the changes had been bigger in the past, but also importantly “It’s not as hot now as when I was a kid sometimes and it was over 40……”
So this is the warning – I think ‘we’ may be overplaying our hand here.
On the ABC this morning there was some chap from the Harrietville store, with a bushie’s view of things, and he complained that yesterday some ‘hi-fallutin’ bloke had dropped in in a chopper and “put the livin bejesus into us”, and consequently most of Harrietville’s population had left, leaving the town, which wasn’t imminently or necessarily threatened by the fire front, relatively unprotected. He was concerned that if there was ’ember attack’, that there wouldn’t be enough people to stop fires igniting in all the properties where the owners were away, and any fire would clearly be a threat to all.
Despite the complete failure of the government and others to talk about climate change when they should have, when the Tassie fires were at their worst, the message seems to have got through to the collective semi-conscious that this summer is ‘hotter than usual’ and bad things will happen, and we all need to be alert and alarmed. Perpetual doubters like me then get told off for playing down the risk, and specially for saying that climate change won’t necessarily make this part of Australia hotter..it all depends which way the wind blows.
So on the average, has this been a ‘hot summer’ so far? – in this particular part of Australia. It has certainly been an odd summer, and sometime before Christmas it was actually rather cool, with a few snow showers in the Alps. We have had a significantly long dry period, but despite that, the land is not dessicated as the water tables started the year very high. Springs are still flowing well, and Sandy Creek, which dried up several years back for the first time in decades, is now burbling like it used to because the its catchment in the bush is still relatively damp.
But it’s not that I agree with my neighbour; when I said “Ah but what about the Arctic melting?” he bounced back with “It’s been ice-free before”….
The big problem as I see it is in the variability; who can say whether the Indian Ocean will start to cool again, or how this will affect our weather? We were just told to expect some ‘cooler than normal’ weather because the Indian Ocean is hotter than ‘normal’, but oddly it’s been like this for most of the last decade, and this was allegedly why we had two cool wet summers.
On a vaguely related note, I’ll just note that I heard the head of the IMF Christine Lagarde, talking about the necessity for measures to restore economic growth in Japan, Europe and the US, and then a moment later talking of the urgency to act on climate change because of its threat to, well, growth? How is it that someone like her can stand up and say “Black is the new White”, and then immediately start talking about it as Black, without anyone saying “but surely Mme Lagarde —-“