Australia: We are seeing the very worst of our scientific predictions come to pass in these bushfires
By Joëlle Gergis
Once again, catastrophic bushfire conditions are bearing down on communities during increasingly horrific summers in Australia. It has been an unprecedented continuation of the horrendous bushfires that started as early as spring in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
To avoid sounding like a broken record, instead I will say that as a lead author on the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment report of the global climate due out next year, I can assure you that the planetary situation is extremely dire.
It’s no exaggeration to say my work as scientist now keeps me up at night.
As I’ve watched the events of this summer unfolding, I’ve found myself wondering whether the Earth system has now breached a tipping point, an irreversible shift in the stability of the planetary system.
There may now be so much heat trapped in the system that we may have already triggered a domino effect that could unleash a cascade of abrupt changes that will continue to play out in the years and decades to come.
Rapid climate change has the potential to reconfigure life on the planet as we know it.
We know this because the geologic record contains evidence that these events have occurred in the past. The key difference is that we’ve never had 7.5 billion people on the planet, so the human species really is in uncharted territory.
Failing to adequately plan for the known threat of climate change in a country like Australia should now be considered to be an act of treason.