Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Prime Minster Abbott denies South Australian bush fires have anything to do with climate change - Australian firies not amused

 Jim Casey , state secretary of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union in The Guardian, 7 January 2014

Junkee telling it like it is on 8 January 2015: 

In the past week we’ve seen bushfires consume huge stretches of land in South Australia and Victoria. 19 communities totalling thousands of residents were forced to evacuate their homes around Adelaide, more than 2,000 firefighters were called upon to battle the flames, and 32 homes were destroyed. On the other side of the country, Perth faced weather so hot it literally broke the internet and let people fry eggs on the sidewalk. Similarly, Melbourne has seen each day creep closer and closer to 40 degrees while simultaneously bearing the brunt of surprise tropical storms that brought down power lines, severely damaged people’s homes and saw skydivers tossed around the earth like human confetti.
We’ve had better summers.
But this morning, in an effort to respond to the worst of this craziness, Tony Abbott went on a tour of the recently contained bushfire site at Adelaide Hills and acknowledged that climate change is indeed a thing that exists. “Climate change is real [and] humanity does contribute to it,” he said. Seriously. This is a thing that has happened.
Abbott then met with volunteers and members of the affected community and announced his intention to offer disaster recovery payments of up to $1,000 per person and a 13-week Centrelink allowance for those who have been out of work because of the fire. “The worst of nature brings out the best in people,” he said. “You have responded magnificently to all of the challenges you have faced.”
But, never to leave a press conference with an entirely positive reception, he then went on: “Over time climate change could make a difference to these sorts of occurrences [but] I think it is wrong to try to attribute particular natural disasters to climate change.”
“We think that Australia is making a strong and effective contribution to reducing emissions,” he said without a hint of sarcasm.
Despite his words of praise for the firies, a lot of them have a pretty different message for the PM than the one he’d probably like to hear.
Yesterday, State Secretary of the NSW Fire Brigade Employee’s Union Jim Casey penned an op-ed in The Guardian that directly appealed to the Abbott government for stronger action against climate change, following the bushfire in Adelaide Hills.
“Changes in weather behaviour are making bushfires bigger and more dangerous,” he wrote. “We need the federal government to start being a part of the solution to this problem, rather than denying it exists. This is the critical decade for international action on climate. The recent unexpected statements from both China and the US on the question of carbon emissions gives some hope that action may be taken, but if this does occur it will be in spite of our own government’s position.”
Sadly, these pleas aren’t even new. Firefighters have been trying to get the government to take action on this issue for years (look here’s one, and some more; actually, maybe it’s all of them). Now, as their concerns have not been fully dealt with, the Climate Council are saying firefighter numbers will likely have to double to deal with the increasing threat of fires in a hotter and more unpredictable climate. Here’s hoping there are still lots of little kids who really like the idea of fire poles.
After being constantly humiliated on the world stage, having his arse handed to him by the leader of the free world, and clocking in only one step ahead of Saudi Arabia in the latest global Climate Change Rankings, it’s no surprise that the PM would want to speak out about climate change now.
But whether you’re a firefighter or just a person who doesn’t really like the idea of living in a place that might spontaneously combust at any given minute, it’s kind of worrying that the PM thinks this is the best he can do.

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