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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/13/13

The Australian Bushfires: Homo"Sapiens" Scorched Earth Program

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Message Andrew Glikson

As Australian bushfires persist, the reality of climate change as manifested by extreme weather events is hitting, like a blast out of a furnace.


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Consistent with laws of physic established for over a century [1], atmospheric temperatures are largely regulated by greenhouse gases (GHG) (Figure 1). The same applies to the connection between rising temperature and the spate of extreme weather events around the globe. This includes increased climate variability shifting toward the warm end of the scale, heat waves, fires, cold fronts consequent on increased evaporation in ice-free polar zones, intensification of the hydrological cycle and consequent rise in floods and hurricanes [2]. experienced in Australia over the last few years and at present [3].   

The failure to negotiate agreements for mitigation of GHG, through Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban and Doha (Figure 2) [4] now poses an existential risk around the world and in Australia. Should current trends continue over the next few decades, the danger arises large parts of the Earth would suffer heat waves, fires and floods rendering agriculture hardly possible.

Where does responsibility belong?

Since 1990 the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [5] has issued detailed peer review science-based climate change reports, documenting past and current climate parameters and projecting trends to the end of the century. However, the linear nature of the projected trends has lulled the public into false sense of security, assuming sufficient time remains to gradually mitigate carbon emissions. Further, IPCC reports tended to underestimate climate change rates [6], providing limited information regarding the stability of ice sheets, the magnitude of amplifying feedback effects and methane release.

Since UN climate efforts depend entirely on decisions by its members, the first port of call has to be with governments which, elected or otherwise, ought to be committed to protect people's lives, present and future. 



Figure 2.  UN global efforts vs global CO2 rise.


In this regard, James Hansen, NASA's chief climate scientist states:

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Dr. Andrew Glikson is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, Research School of Earth Sciences, and author of numerous research articles on asteroid impacts and mass extinctions, early evolution of life on earth, and (more...)
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