Are we past the point of no return?
We were lucky.
We suffered only minor flooding from the 220mm of rain across last week’s two downpours. The flooding was much more severe in other parts of our region, with many people suffering property losses.
Was that local deluge a consequence of climate change?
The science to prove that, or not, has not been done yet so we do not know for sure.
But in other parts of the world, it is clear that climate change is driving extreme weather events.
The Americans were not shy in looking for the drivers of their ‘‘freakishly’’ warm February. The World Weather Attribution team is very clear about causation: ‘‘The warm spell is just the latest piece in a growing body of evidence that climate change is playing a role in almost all extreme heat events.’’
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued a report on their prolonged and extreme heatwave in early 2017. Their ‘‘Special Climate Statement 61’’, warns that Australian annually averaged temperatures have warmed by around one degree since 1910. They acknowledged an increasing frequency of warm events, consistent with that observed for the globe.
We ignore those warnings to our own peril. Like the faithful Christian man in that old story about God saving us:
Facing rising flood waters, the man declined to evacuate when the authorities told him to, saying to himself, ‘‘I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.’’
He refused offers of assistance from his neighbours, a man in a canoe, a police motorboat and a helicopter, saying to each, ‘‘No thanks, God will save me.’’
Inevitably, the house broke up and floodwaters swept the man to his death.
Arriving in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, ‘‘I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?’’
And God said, ‘‘Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car, canoe, motorboat and a helicopter. What more were you looking for?’’
Waiting for a divine miracle, a new technology or government action is not going to save us from major climate impacts which, science tells us, are now inevitable.
Scientists warn that we are now past the point of being able to bring our changing climate back under control.
Staying calm I can do, but simply accepting that situation I will not.
If we are to minimise the environmental impacts, we need to take action. In the absence of government leadership, it falls on us, as individuals and households, to both reduce our carbon emissions, and to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. What action will you take?
* Saturday, April 22 is World Earth Day. Pukekohe’s St Andrews Anglican Church has a carbon sequestration event planned for that weekend.
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