By LUCY ORMONDE
Two things happened last Friday in Sydney. The first was that the temperature reached 45.8 degrees Celsius. The second was that my Frosty Fruit melted faster than I could eat it. And I am a pretty pacey consumer of Frosty Fruits.
Friday was Sydney’s hottest day ON RECORD. In the 150 years since people started recording temperatures, 45.8 is the highest number they’ve taken down. So it’s little wonder people were cradling Slurpees, panting out of car windows like laboradors and mainlining for water.
And Sydney wasn’t the only city that was sweltering. According to news reports, four of Australia’s 10 hottest days on record have occurred in the 2013. And it’s only January 23.
One staff member at the Bureau of Meteorology has called it the most significant heat wave in Australian history. Bushfires have been raging around the country and hundred of Australians have lost their homes and possessions. One person even lost his life.
The extreme weather has prompted politicians – and one of my delightfully helpful and informative (Read: chatty) neighbour – to kindly remind us all of the link between recent weather and climate change. “You only have to look at what’s happening with the fires around the country and the extreme heatwaves . . . to see what impact climate change is already having,” were the words from Greens leader Christine Milne.
And yet the scary thing is, so many people still fail to accept the science of climate change, making the likelihood of further political action, unlikely. Recent reports suggest that most people are becoming increasingly skeptical about whether or not climate change exists at all.
This is from The Conversation:
This shift in public opinion towards climate change has also been documented in Australia. A recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, reveals that in 2007–08, 73% of Australians stated that they were concerned about climate change, but by 2011–12 this had fallen to 57%.
Scepticism about climate change can take on many dimensions. Individuals may be unconvinced that global temperatures are increasing (trend sceptics). They may acknowledge the existence of climate change but not believe that human activity contributes to it (attribution sceptics).
OK, so two things stood out for me on that list.
(a) That climate change is “too remote” for a lot of people. I take this to mean it’s difficult for people to think about an issue if they’re not coming face to face with it on a regular basis. The problem, the cause and the solution are too separate. You can read and read about melting ice caps and stranded polar bears, about the dying coral reefs and the overuse of coal power. But until that polar bear is floating on an ice sheet down your local water way, it’s difficult to make the link between climate change and how it might impact your daily life.
(b) That Australians are less concerned about climate change than there were five years ago.
If you put (a) and (b) together, it doesn’t make sense. Shouldn’t we be the most concerned about climate change? That floating polar bear is drifting CLOSER people, not further away! Has no one been reading the news recently?