Politics

This Depressing Report From 2008 Was Incredibly Accurate About The 2020 Bushfire Season

"Although things are bad, they will keep on getting worse if the concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere keep increasing."

Garnaut Climate Change Review

How much more proof do we need that successive Australian governments have spent the last decade failing us when it comes to climate change?

How about this report from twelve years ago explicitly warning that 2020 was shaping up to be a bushfire disaster?

Crazy how accurate that is, right?

Not really, considering that’s generally how modelling works. That’s what happens when you listen to science, instead of trying to bury it. The Garnaut Climate Change Review was authored by economist Dr Ross Garnaut in 2008, who led an independent study on the impacts of climate change on Australia’s economy.

The final report predicted “fire seasons will start earlier, end slightly later, and generally be more intense. This effect increases over time, but should be directly observable by 2020.”

One of the key recommendations to avoid this was the implementation of an emissions trading scheme.

What Does Garnaut Think Of Our Current Crisis?

Yesterday Garnaut shared his thoughts with SBS, and they’re both sad and frustrating to hear.

“It’s one of sadness, that I was ineffective. Having been given the opportunity to talk to Australians on this issue, that I was ineffective in persuading Australians that it was in our national interest to play a positive role in a global effort to mitigate the effects of climate change,” he said.

“Although things are bad, they will keep on getting worse if the concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere keep increasing.

“It’s in the interest of the whole of humanity that we move promptly towards zero net emissions.”

Dr Garnaut also said of all developed countries Australia is the most vulnerable to climate change, but could also be the biggest economic beneficiary of effective global action.

“We have the best renewable energy resources and the best opportunities for capturing carbon in our geological and biological landscapes,” he said.

What Else Did The Report Say?

According to the report, by 2067 we could expect up to 300 days of extreme fire weather.

The report also predicted a strong increase in heatwaves across our capital cities. The most dramatic impact will be felt in the Northern Territory — by 2070, they expect Darwin to top 35 degrees for 221 days of the year.

When it comes to cyclones and storms predictions are more difficult, but some models believe “‘super cyclones’, with an intensity hitherto unrecorded on the Australian east coast, may develop over the next 50 years”.

It also highlighted CSIRO and BoM research which indicated rainfall patterns will move into longer dry spells broken by heavier rainfall events.

We can’t say we weren’t warned.

For a bit of light reading, you can check out the report here.

The government’s main argument against meaningful climate change action — namely, moving away from a carbon-based economy and transitioning towards renewables — is that it would destroy our economy.

The cost of the bushfires is predicted to run into the billions and wipe out the government’s projected budget surplus. Insurance companies have so far received around $375 million worth of bushfire-related claims.

The government has also pledged at least $2 billion for a new National Bushfire Recovery Agency to support the states and territories.