Monstrous fires that ripped through northern areas of the Sunshine Coast this fire season were an example of the consequences of weather extremes to come for the region with sea level rise, storm surge and flooding also expected to take their toll with greater frequency in coming years. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Monstrous fires that ripped through northern areas of the Sunshine Coast this fire season were an example of the consequences of weather extremes to come for the region with sea level rise, storm surge and flooding also expected to take their toll with greater frequency in coming years. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily

Time’s up for climate deniers

IT'S well past time for the opportunistic chancers and wilfully ignorant to leave the discussion about our future and how its challenges will be addressed.

These political hacks and social media warriors simply have nothing to offer and, after decades of being provided platforms in the name of "balance", really have nothing more to contribute.

The shrill and the stupid likes of Pauline Hanson and her ilk, the now totally irrelevant bumbling Barnabys and the cloddish Christensens and Kellys are simply wasting everyone's time and have long dealt themselves out of a place at the table.

The same goes for those who either misquote religious text, or who read it as written, missing the metaphor in favour of grasping for miracles.

If you are not prepared to either accept the science or read and understand it, you are taking up time we no longer have left. There is plenty of credible text available for those of us without science degrees to read and grasp the issues.

That some prefer to seek out that which lacks credibility at any level, is a choice they make.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's abject failure to provide the strength and leadership Australia required at the peak of this bushfire crisis has already been the subject of much commentary.

That he chose to split hairs about the separation of powers, the responsibility of the states and whether he had been asked to help, has condemned the early months of his leadership of this latest Australian government.

What comes next will not only define the rest of his term but will determine the level of pain and loss to come.

We must become more aggressive in our carbon emission reduction strategies. To temper that aggression in the name of protecting the economy, as he seeks to do at every turn, must be based on a clear, independent assessment of the relative cost of actually doing something meaningful.

A national carbon reduction strategy that provides a meaningful response to contribute to the global change already here, offers economic opportunities that must be measured against the cost of business as usual or near to usual.

This past week I wrote to Professors Hugh Possingham and Tim Smith, two scientists at the forefront of their disciplines who have been warning for decades that their research findings demanded both reduced emissions and the need to adapt land use planning among other things to meet the consequences of increasingly extreme weather.

The clear message from both was that we have run out of time.

"Unavoidable and urgent," Dr Possingham said.

The world had already warmed by a degree and he found it difficult to see temperature increases stop at 1.5C.

"Even optimists are preparing for two degrees centigrade," he said calling for adaptation to address the threats of fires, floods and sea level rise.

The past decade to 2019 according to the UK Met, NOAA and NASA this week has been the hottest on records that dated back to 1850.

Prof Smith, a lead author for the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report to be published next year, has called for the prioritising of climate change considerations in planning and investment decisions, and building of social capital within communities to help people at risk.

The ad hoc responses of state governments simply won't cut it if risk is to be minimised in any meaningful way.

A leader would set politics to one side and begin treating this as the national emergency it now represents.

Everything from immigration policy to planning constraints must now be viewed through the prism of a known risk.

On the Sunshine Coast we've already seen a $2.8 billion hospital, a critical piece of community infrastructure, built in an area not only difficult to access when the sun is shining but which will become problematic during the next extreme Mooloolah River flood event.

A new CBD with a 30-year construction life, is being built on land that has required pumps to clear water almost from the point of the soil being broken.

The new international airport sits elevated four metres on the flood plain in response to climate change but seemingly with little thought to how it would be accessible when storm surge and major flooding occurs.

Sunshine Coast Council's cynical rezoning of known flood-prone land for a housing development north of the Maroochy River underscores both its appalling lack of awareness and the lack of safeguards in planning processes.

That Kelly Slater-land could even be contemplated on similarly constrained land west of Coolum underscores the point. I get that it may have suited short-term economic agendas to ignore reality.

But how much longer can that avarice be allowed to dictate the agenda for a future our children and grand children will inherit?



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