Yesterday, Sir David Attenborough issued his most critical warning about the effects of climate change on our planet. Speaking to BBC News, Sir David said that “the moment of crisis has come” in our efforts to tackle climate change. “We have been putting things off year after year. As I speak, south east Australia is on fire. Why? Because the temperatures of the earth are increasing.” Climate change warnings are definitely now at their most critical.
The warning comes as Australia continues to tackle the devastating fires which have ravaged through Australia, killing it is estimated over one million mammals and stripping the vast area of its forests. And yet, in 2017, the Australian coalition government made the decision to axe funding to the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, while Australian Scott Morrison was Treasurer. The decision has left Australia “not well positioned” to deal with the fires, according to the Facility’s director Jean Palutikof – clearly a master of understatement.
Scientists say climate change is one of several factors behind the Australian fires, along with how forests are managed and natural patterns in weather. But Sir David goes further, saying that it was “palpable nonsense” for some politicians and commentators to suggest that the Australian fires were nothing to do with the world becomign warmer. “We know perfectly well,” he said, that human activity is behind the heating of the planet. This was confirmed when the Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued a statement which said that 2019 was the hottest year in Australian history, with temperatures 1.5 degrees Celsius above average.
Indeed, three global agencies – Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, all confirmed that the decade to 2019 was globally the hottest on record. The message seems to be getting through to many governments around the world – perhaps more because of the rise in public recognition and concern than any deep-routed recognition or commitment. At least dialogue at government level is increasing, but while they talk there continues to be a distinct lack of action. Even Donald Trump appears to have recognised the massive negative impact of climate change, changing his long-held view that it was merely a Chinese plot. But many argue that his change of position is merely because climate change is recognised as a major issue by the populations of marginal states, such as Florida. He still shows a lack of commitment to taking any form of radical action.
We are all aware that public concern about the issue is on the rise. The younger generations have taken to the streets in protests around the world, following the lead of high-profile activists like Greta Thunberg. And a recent United Nations report highlighted the need for a change to a largely plant-based diet to alleviate climate change. But until governments around the world stop prevaricating and start taking definitive, wide-ranging action, we will continue to tumble towards a global catastrophe.
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