What Australia’s Fires Should Teach the USA: Be Alarmist!Roundup
tags: climate change, global warming
Walter G. Moss is a professor emeritus of history at Eastern Michigan University. His most recent book is An Age of Progress?: Clashing Twentieth-Century Global Forces (2008). For a list of all his recent books and online publications, including many on Russian history and culture, go here: https://people.emich.edu/wmoss/pub.htm
Since September 2019, deadly fires have been spreading havoc in Australia. According to one source, “the fires have already burned about 14.5 million acres — an area almost as large as West Virginia,” and killed “half a billion native animals.” Certainly a major cause has been that 2019 was Australia’s driest and hottest year on record. Almost all credible climate experts believe that human-caused global warming is a major cause of the fires. Even Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a minimizer of climate change’s significance, finally (in early January 2020) admitted that “climate change has impacted on the world’s weather patterns [and] has led to where we are here today to some extent, combined with many other factors, the drought being the most significant.”
The problem, however, is that prior to this crisis Morrison did not take climate change seriously. As Australian writer Richard Flanagan stated, he “has minimized the connection between climate change and Australia’s extreme environmental conditions. . . . He has derided calls to end coal mining as ‘reckless,’ prioritizing economic interests and loyalty to a powerful lobby [the fossil fuel industry]. He has opposed taxing heat-trapping emissions or taking other significant steps to reduce them,” and, as of the start of 2020, “he has signaled no change in his policies.”
A key Morrison response to the crisis? “There has been a lot of blame being thrown around. . . . It doesn’t help anybody at this time, and over-analysis of these things is not a productive exercise.”
As the crisis continues in Australia and responsible news programs covering the world continue to depict the great suffering (deaths, loss of homes, etc.) of the Australian people, what lessons can we in the USA learn from this ongoing tragedy?
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