Loading...
BYH ECU for buying your pirate ship's captain a new multi-million dollar party house and then voting him to walk the...

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

March 26, 2019

Star Tribune of Minneapolis 

As the world mourns the loss of 50 lives in the New Zealand mosque shooting, leaders across the globe need to stop and ask a vital question:

What is being done to prevent the next hate-filled extremist from getting swept up in a toxic mix of white supremacy and…

March 26, 2019

That special counsel Robert Mueller has not resolved all the issues surrounding President Trump is disappointing many of the president's foes, but it's not surprising. Mueller is an honorable man. He is not a bomb thrower. He always defined his role narrowly. All of Trump's attacks on Mueller…

020917Dionne

March 26, 2019

The UNC Board of Governors is a hot mess these days.

They've pushed out three university leaders: System President Margaret Spellings, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton. All of them got hefty payments on the way out that could have funded…

Colin Campbell

March 25, 2019

The Portland, Maine, Press Herald

This may surprise anyone who’s been caught outside on an early summer night in Maine, but the number of insects is declining rapidly — and that’s not good for anyone.

The first global review of reports of insect population decline confirmed that…

March 25, 2019

Gov. Roy Cooper is not known for booming rhetoric, and in the same quiet way that he might deliver his speeches he has gone about dramatically shifting the balance of the North Carolina judiciary.

Cooper appointed North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Mark Davis to fill the seat left vacant by…

Kovach

March 25, 2019

Who is the biggest threat to our constitutional order? It is not President Trump.

Ever since Trump took office, Democrats have been telling us he is an authoritarian who threatens our system of government. Well, today it is Democrats who are declaring war on the Constitution. Leading Democrats are…

Marc_Thiessen

March 24, 2019

The San Diego Union-Tribune

President Donald Trump’s plan to divert $6.6 billion from the Pentagon and the Treasury Department to help pay for the construction of a border wall is a frontal assault on the constitutional provision that gives Congress the authority to appropriate public funds.…

March 24, 2019

Bill Friday, the founding president of what is now the 17-campus University of North Carolina, presided from 1956 until his retirement in 1986 over a spectacular period of growth — and yes, glory — for an institution that has been a source of pride for millions of North Carolinians who…

5Bowles.jpg

March 24, 2019

As a member of the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina State Health Plan, I want to give a board-member perspective on some of the issues surrounding our proposed changes to medical provider reimbursements.

The board has devoted many hours to this problem and fully supports Treasurer Dale…

Peter Robie

March 23, 2019

Nancy McFarlane is my mayor. She has led Raleigh through explosive growth, including a new train station, the purchase of Dix Park, promotion of Raleigh as an arts scene and tourist destination and recognition on many “best of” lists. Why is she stepping down?

It’s not because of…

021117campbell
283 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 29
        Next Page»   Last Page»