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The Australian canary in the climate change coal mine just died

February 8, 2020
By David Kruse - Columnist , Farm News

Part 2

Climate Change CO2 man-made influence is no longer a debate. The consensus of evidence has become overwhelming. The Pentagon, NOAA, NASA, insurance companies, corporations, investors and even the WSJ have all moved beyond debating whether man-made climate change is a threat to human existence to how to modify our climate by altering practices so as to reduce the negative human influence on the climate. I believe that climate change can be addressed with technology but first the need must be accepted before human ingenuity can be employed to the problem. The climate forecasters to this point have been correct in most observations and expectations. The manifestations of climate change are hastening and threatens tipping points where pulling back becomes more difficult if not impossible. The deniers that are left now live out past where the busses run. Denial is now totally ideological. As the data is irrefutable at this point, they are becoming more and more irrelevant. A Trump supporter who visited my office, a friend, told me that he doesn't deny climate change or think it is a hoax. He simply says that he is not willing to make the personal lifestyle changes necessary to reverse the CO2 trend so has resolved to accept whatever fate is going to befall us. I will leave that topic for another report but I am a high C02 producer and I have made no adjustments myself to speak of. I believe that our leaders need to lead and they are too often fighting efforts to limit C02 emissions for profit. We have a problem.

Climate change is impacting agriculture. Australian ag will be shaking so hard their teeth will rattle from the ramifications of their country on fire. The U.S. heartland has become wetter over my lifetime which has been responded to by farmers adding field tile. Pests move with the temperature. Seed genetics has helped crops defend themselves. Corn yields in the western corn-belt have improved because of climate change except for the 20 mln acres lost to historic cyclone bombs and flooding. The U.S. heartland is lucky at this point as the impact of a warming world is a greater threat for other ag regions where water is a limiting factor. Warmer oceans make for persistent El Nino's. ISU climatologist Elwynn Taylor has long predicted that the drought of this century will occur in the Midwest mid-decade. The last drought of the century was the mid-1930's. This drought would occur in what is a "normal" climate cycle but it will be impacted by the intensity of climate change that did not exist in the 1930s. Will that moderate or intensify this coming drought?

The Australian government has been included in the climate denial club with the US. Their current government pushed economic growth over the top of climate change recognition but the massive wildfire event has produced an epiphany in the Australian public that will impact political ideology down there. The unusually warm and dry year in Australia is also due, in part, to a weather pattern that has set up across the Indian Ocean. It's known as the Indian Ocean Dipole, or IOD, which is an air circulation pattern in the Indian Ocean. When the IOD is in its positive phase, the water is cooler than average off the coast of Sumatra, leading to reduced atmospheric lift there and reduced rainfall over Australia, and there are warmer-than-average waters off the coast of Africa. The oceans are warming at a rate of 5 Hiroshima atomic bombs occurring every second.

The worldwide community of climate scientists says that ever larger swathes of our world could burn if the climate crisis continues to trigger extreme weather events like record-breaking temperatures and extended dry spells. The following letter to the editor provides the on the ground perspective of living with climate change. The canary not only died in the Australian coal mine but they fear losing the coal mines themselves as they are being threatened by the fires.

To the editor: I live in Australia, the country that is now being ravaged by wildfires lessons of our disaster are not lost on the world.

Our horrific firestorms are the consequence of a long-running drought and the elongation of the fire season, both directly attributable to human-caused climate change. The worst is yet to come, as the costs both economically and environmentally are yet to be accounted, let alone paid.

We have towns that have run out of water and need to bring in drinking water by transport. Major cities have imposed water restrictions. Farmers have no water for crops and livestock.

Currently many of us are suffering under a haze that makes it feel as if we are smoking 80 cigarettes a day. Major sporting events have been canceled. Tourism is suffering as bookings are canceled. Mass evacuations are underway.

We are a nation in great peril and one further imperiled by a leadership enthralled by the lobbying and revenues of mining corporations. We may well become a failed state in time, a once proudly developed nation, the first nation to fall victim to climate change.

Heed our warning. The time to act on climate change is here and it is now. The call is for immediate and urgent action. Please, contact your elected officials and demand action. Make the personal adjustments and sacrifices that climate change demands. Our world is on fire. It is time to act.

Michael Voorbij, Tenambit, Australia

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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