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The canary in the climate coal mine just died

January 31, 2020
By David Kruse - Columnist , Farm News

Part 1

Climate change deniers in the U.S. probably should keep an eye on what is happening in Australia politically as a result of the historic wild fires that are ravaging the country. Australia had to mobilize military reserves to handle the relocation of people resulting from an area twice the size of Switzerland (25 million acres) or two states of West Virginia being on fire. It is early in the season and the demonic fires are feeding on themselves. The regions impacted include the eastern coast, South Australia, Tasmania and even Western Australia. Australia set the high temperature record ever for the continent on one day last month. It hit 120 degrees F in the Sydney suburbs. Australian rescue resources are being overwhelmed, people taking refuge on beaches are traumatized, with 24 dead so far. The impact on wildlife is reportedly devastating. The drought, heat and fires are a new threat adding to the death of parts of the Great Barrier Reef attributed to warming water. A large plume of hot water 1 1/2 times the size of Texas is moving eastward from the South Pacific toward South America. Smoke from the Australian fires blotted out the sky in New Zealand and has already made it to South America.

The Australian government was not ready for anything like this. In fact, Prime Minister Morrison was leaning toward Trump, that climate change was a hoax with no planning being done. Both Trump and Morrison are big fans of coal pouring CO2 into the atmosphere. Morrison, on vacation in Hawaii, came home early to find Australians very angry with him. Firefighters refused to shake his hand. Most all of the people impacted believe that climate change is contributing to the carnage that they are now experiencing. Morrison is either going to have one hell-of-an epiphany or they will choose a new guy. The southern part of Australia has warmed 2.7 degrees on average since 1950 and is one of the leading edges of climate change globally. The canary in the coal mine is dying in Australia. The obstinance, negligence and ideological refusal to accept the risk to us of man-made climate change is one of the most grandiose political bets ever wagered in history for Trump and Republicans. Their rejection of climate change, rejection of science-based regulation in general, and ridicule of climate change scientists and activists is praised by their supporters. If they are wrong on this bet, and I think they are, it could be the demise of their political party. How could they ever hold credibility on any major issue ever again? Climate change will not only disrupt and threaten the human race it will politically destroy forever those who denied it. I think that it is a bad bet because the climate is changing, CO2 is contributing and there is stark evidence of it the world over. NASA/NOAA have confirmed it. I can confirm it. I have seen climate change in my lifetime. If treated as a hoax and they are wrong, we are all very much going to be the worse off for it. The Trump administration policy has not only been to deny climate change but turn on the afterburners so that government policy contributes to CO2 emissions. He is president CO2. He is not neutral on climate change but supporting government policy that accelerates it.

Australia is one of the places in the world where climate change shows its hand first.

"The impact of these fires is also providing a stark warning about the kinds of natural disasters that can be exacerbated by climate change, which is lengthening wildfire seasons in Australia," according to Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney lamented, "It's really shocking and really horrible and as much as I hate to say 'I told you so,' climate scientists have been warning about this for a very long time - especially in Australia. We knew that if we have drought and a heat wave, the whole country is a tinderbox. We knew it was going to happen."

John Blaxland, a professor at the Strategic and Defense Studies Center at the Australian National University, said the country had not seen a catastrophe on this scale, affecting so many people in so many different locations, since Australia became independent in 1901.

In California, it's hard to find a month where there isn't a bad fire. This is one of those big concerns with climate change that these fires are going to continue to be an issue." Home insurers in California, after paying $24 billion in claims in 2017 and 2018 are retreating from providing coverage. Realtors claim it is hurting home sales in that state. Of course, there are still hard-headed doubters, including President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (While Morrison acknowledged that climate change is one of many factors behind the bushfires, he also said calls to reduce carbon emissions are "reckless" and claimed Australia doesn't need to do more to combat the climate crisis). It was Australia, along with the US, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia, that blocked meaningful new climate protection reforms at the recent UN climate conference in Madrid. Morrison made it clear that his imperative was to get the Australian economy performing at full tilt. Indeed, due to its heavy burning of coal and use of liquified natural gas, Australia has one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions rates in the world. They are now choking on it.

To be continued...

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

 
 

 

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