Bushfires are raging across the state of New South Wales in Australia. It's only Spring. Something is up. Yesterday, the Greens Member of Parliament, Adam Bandt, made headlines by suggesting that climate change is connected with the deadly NSW bushfires, which are causing widespread destruction. It has been treated as if he was speaking like a radical - by the media and by deniers. But there is nothing radical about what Bandt said - it’s what the Bureau of Meteorology have said and it’s what the Firefighters Union have said when addressing Parliamentarians:
"We are asking you very clearly, stop making this a political football, put in place the action that's required to secure the future because by 2020 we are going to see a frequency like we've not seen before." -- United Firefighters Union of Australia
It’s deeply worrying that, here in Australia, the causes and impacts of climate change have remained a political football. The increasing frequency and severity of bushfires show us that we can't hide from climate change impacts - they are happening already - not just here but all over the world. From the melting of the Arctic, larger cyclones hitting the Philippines, wildfires and drought in the United States, the list goes on. We’re entering a new era of weather extremes and it has a deadly toll.
How can any of us watch, be affected and not be frightened about what climate change means for all of us in Australia? We can't bury our heads in the sand -- we need to face what we're up against and insist on political action to reduce our emissions and avoid further community devastation. Bushfires aren't political, but we need political action to stop them.
What can we do?
1. Talk about it! It's a real concern and we need to talk to our politicians (pick up the phone and call your MPs and Senators), your local paper or radio station, your community and neighbours. Don't let deniers stop you voicing your concerns about the climate impacts we face nor the action needed to address them!
- Wildfires in October? Let's connect the dots: #climate change is driving extreme weather and wildfires. @TonyAbbottMHR @SMH @abcnews
- @SMH @abcnews We need to be talking about the link between climate change, wildfires and action to reduce emissions
- I stand with @AdamBandt and Firefighters: Message to @TonyAbbottMHR stop making #climate change a political football, make it about action.
- My sympathy goes out to all impacted by NSW bushfires. Let’s take action on #climate change seriously so fires don’t get even more wild.
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2. Divest! If we are to avoid further extreme weather impacts, it’s time to take away the power of the industry that’s driving these impacts. By moving our money out of fossil fuels, we can start to erode the industry’s social license and motivate the political action our climate so desperately needs. Find out how you can start moving your money today!
It’s time to show that this isn’t just about something a Greens Parliamentarian feels strongly about, but it is an issue and a real challenge that we all face. If last summer was anything to go by, the coming summer won't be pretty - it’s time to talk and it’s time to act.
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to all those impacted by the bushfires. In writing this, we are not seeking to make your suffering a political opportunity, rather a chance to call for action so that further suffering may be avoided.