Loading...
Bless our hearts as Edmund Burke quoted: The only thing necessary for the triump of evil is for good men(and women) to...

Australia struggles while leaders ignore climate change

Richard Glover

Richard Glover

Loading…

Thursday, August 16, 2018

It was the teenage girls of Trundle who opened up the hearts of Sydney. Their school principal was on the radio last week describing Australia's devastating drought and the impact it was having on students in this small rural town in the state of New South Wales. Among his examples: Some farms no longer have enough water for showering.

The school is on town water, he explained to me on Sydney radio, so he has renovated the showers. Now he wants to provide some free shampoo and conditioner. Could any of our listeners help?

Australia's drought has been building for some time. Last year was dry, so this year started with empty bank accounts and depleted dams. Farmers in the eastern states watched the horizon, hoping for clouds.

So far, the rain hasn't arrived. All of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, has now been declared a drought zone. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced emergency-relief funding for farmers.

Of course, Australia has always had an extreme climate — destructive floods, heartbreaking droughts and deadly bush fires — all bringing their own harvest of misery.

During this drought, the prime minister has again cited a poem written more than a hundred years ago. "I love a sunburnt country," runs the lyric by Dorothea Mackellar, "a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains."

The words are a way for Australians to say: "We love this place, despite all it throws at us."

This time around, though, there's a whiff of politics. It seems to be a way of emphasizing that Australia has always been prone to drought. In other words: Don't blame this one on climate change.

Science counsels us against confusing climate and weather. A particular drought cannot be blamed on man-made climate change. That's true. All the same: In Australia, right now, the droughts are coming faster and harsher.

Some say the current drought is worse than the infamous Federation Drought, so-named because it gripped the nation just as it came into being. The years leading up to Federation had been difficult. Australia's great 19th century poet, Henry Lawson, went walking through the drought-crippled landscape in the early 1890s. Lawson's eye was both melancholic and humorous, as captured in a poem in which two travelers try to find the Paroo River, a waterway that, during floods, is many miles wide.

They walk, peer ahead, then walk some more, before realizing they had stepped over the river without noticing — drought having reduced the mighty Paroo to a trickle.

Certainly, scientists say, climate change is making droughts more frequent in southern Australia, with hotter temperatures and reduced soil moisture.

You would think the current government coalition — partly reliant on rural voters — would be enthusiastically joining the global effort to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. But the opposite is the case. Climate skeptics within the government continue to frustrate attempts to develop a coherent policy. Australia is on track to miss even the modest commitments made under the Paris accord.

The country's treasurer, Scott Morrison, last year brought a lump of coal into Parliament, brandishing it as he sang the praises of coal-fired power plants.

Odder still, the government criticized a private power provider over its plans to shut an aging coal-fired plant. The company believed it could produce energy that was cheaper, greener and more reliable using other means.

Tony Abbott, a former prime minister, believed he knew better. Despite a lifetime of opposing government intervention in private enterprise, Abbott suggested the government forcibly acquire the plant, just to keep the coal-fires burning.

"Coal at any cost" appears to be the policy of some government members. Meanwhile, the world heats up — and so does Australia.

And farming communities such as Trundle face more uncertainty and more anxiety.

Richard Glover presents the "Drive" show on ABC Radio Sydney. He’s a former news editor and European correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and author of 12 books.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

July 12, 2019

Over the past three years, I have had the good fortune to work on a project that has the potential to transform the farming landscape in eastern North Carolina, one that involves harnessing gas produced from hog waste.

As CEO and founder of OptimaBio, our work with Smithfield Foods to capture…

Maloney

July 01, 2019

The American system of checks and balances government does not work the way most people think it does or the way the Founding Fathers said it would.

The president serves at the pleasure of Congress, just as the prime minister of the UK serves at the pleasure of Parliament, which means that the…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 26, 2019

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for Americans to make reparations for slavery. On June 19, the House judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties held a hearing. Its stated purpose was "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the…

Walter Williams

June 10, 2019

The New York Times 

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in…

June 10, 2019

Although it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by…

john hood.jpg

June 10, 2019

We are just weeks away from the first of 20 Democratic debates scheduled this primary season. It gets underway over two nights in Miami on June 26 and 27, and never before has there been a debate this early in the election and potentially this important.

The reason there are so many candidates, 23…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 09, 2019

Gerrymandering has always been part of American politics. After all, the term was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts governor and Founding Father Elbridge Gerry endorsed a state senate district that resembled a salamander.

Until recently, federal courts have been highly reluctant to enter the…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

June 09, 2019

It is not unfair to point out that President Trump, on many important subjects, is just an ignoramus.

A vivid illustration of this unfortunate fact came this week in London, when it was revealed that Prince Charles, a knowledgeable environmentalist, had tried to educate the president on climate…

Eugene Robinson

June 09, 2019

"When you are told all your life you're dumb, unworthy, you start believing it. God changed that for me."

Jerry, from Youngstown, Tennessee, hesitated to be interviewed by Chris Arnade, because "I don't know my ABCs, so I can't really talk right." He told Arnade, the author of the new book…

kathrynlopez

June 09, 2019

Senate Republicans are pushing back on President Trump's plan to impose tariffs on Mexico. But if Mexican officials think these Republicans are going to save them from Trump's tariffs, it's time for them to think again.

So far, congressional Republicans have managed to remain bystanders in Trump's…

MarcThiessen
174 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»