Culture

After Sydney’s Massive Storm, Maybe We Shouldn’t Be Ignoring Climate Change Any More

This time last year the Blue Mountains were on fire. Now they're under a foot of snow.

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Last night Sydney got thoroughly put through the wash by the biggest — and certainly the weirdest — storm it’s experienced for a good while. Lightning struck Centrepoint Tower, the M5 tunnel flooded and in the Blue Mountains it snowed. In October. If nothing else, the pictures are incredible.

The fact that the Blue Mountains looks like Switzerland six weeks from the beginning of summer is ridiculous enough on its own. But remember what was happening up there this time last year? Back then, the Blue Mountains looked like this:

All those photos were taken on October 17 last year; almost exactly one year to the day from now. If you live in metropolitan Sydney, a storm might mean some flash flooding, maybe a fallen tree or power line, and almost certainly the disintegration of all forms of public transport. If you live in the mountains, though, October means you get your home burnt down. Or you wake up to a blanket of snow. Whichever.

As scientists have warned again and again and again, climate change means that extreme weather events like these are going to get more frequent, and more severe. NASA just announced that September just gone was the hottest month on record, and that the last six months were hotter than any humans have experienced before, meaning that bizarre, dangerous and extreme weather is likely to start hitting Australia more and more often, causing more and more damage and claiming more and more lives.

Meanwhile, one of Australia’s most influential newspapers is running an editorial from its environment editor today with the headline: “Plant growth, ocean studies show climate science is far from settled.” The Prime Minister, who is hosting a massive gathering of world leaders in a month, refuses to even put climate change on the agenda, and the Environment Minister openly ignores briefings from Australia’s top climate scientists in favour of dodgy Wikipedia articles.

Honestly, what more proof do you need at this point? Would you like the West Antarctic ice shelf to personally come up here and pay you a visit with a big “climate change is real” banner draped across it? Because it’s well on the way to doing that already — albeit in liquid form. Because it’s melting.

Can we start taking this seriously, please? Like getting some climate change legislation passed, maybe? That’d be nice.

Feature image by Laura Tinling.