What did I worry about during my growing up Years?

I turned 10 in 1944. My father returned from the war already in 1945, namely as soon as the war had ended. We stayed at grandmother’s place in Leipzig at the time. The time in Leipzig was for us children a good time with mum, dad and also grandmother and a cousin of ours.

However mum wanted to return to Berlin as soon as possible. So she left us just before I turned 11 and went to Berlin on her own to look after our apartment where she had only one room to herself. All the other rooms where occupied by people who had no where else to live.

April 1946 was the time when we children and dad moved to Berlin to stay with mum. By that time we had the apartment to ourselves. All the other lodgers had left. I had hopes then, April 1946 would be the start of a new family life for all of us. But this was not what was eventuating. My mother insisted that my father had to move away from Berlin. It was just not the right place for him, so she said. He moved to West Germany and wanted all of us to move too. But my mother refused to leave Berlin. She refused to give up the Berlin apartment. I did not like it at all that my parents separated.

The next few years I hardly ever saw my father. My father corresponded with me. However there was always tension, for my mother did not like my father to write to me. Father was seriously sick a lot of the time. For many years he was not able to get proper employment. His extended family supported him as much as possible. They had a hard time themselves, for they were refugees and living in extremely cramped conditions.

I think I still felt socially fairly content up to age 13 since everybody else had to catch up too after the war. I did not feel inferior to my friends. We were all in the same boat. Come to think of it, all this changed during my later teen years. They were not exactly happy ones. I think I missed some sort of family life. My thoughts were, I just had to put up with it until I was old enough to leave home, which only happened when I was 21!
My parents never lived together again. When I was 16, mum did get a divorce from Dad. I think for a long time during my growing up years I worried about both my parents.

I remember distinctly, that I believed at the time that World War Two had been the war to end all wars. That there would never be another war, this was a strong belief in me and made me look hopefully into the future. Except then came the ‘Cold War’. This, together with the nuclear threat, made me feel pretty concerned about the future. And this concern has multiplied now with increasing climate change . . .

Berlioz, my husband, published today a blog about what children worry about and especially what he experienced between the ages of 10 to 13. His blog prompted me to publish a bit about my growing up years after World War Two. Here is the link to the blog of Berlioz:

https://berlioz1935.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/what-children-worry-about-most/

December Writing Challenge/ Prompts:

https://patchworkmomma.wordpress.com/manifest20-prompts/

  1. Choose one word which you would like to embody during 2020 as a sort of theme for the year. How would you like to see this word manifest in your life?
  2. Who inspired you in 2019? Why? What gifts did they give you? How will you carry these forward in 2020?
  3. What made you feel joyful in 2019? What steps can you take to create more joyful moments in the coming year?
  4. What goals did you accomplish in 2019 that you’re proud of? How will your achievement continue to benefit you or others in the future?
  5. What musical discovery did you make this year? Share a memory involving music or tell us what artist or song would feature on the soundtrack of your life for 2019?
  6. What surprised you in 2019

 

Today I want to write about Nr.  6!

So, what surprised me in 2019?

Did it surprise me that Greta Thunberg continued to get so much media attention? She is a very determined young woman, only sixteen, but she stuck it out, did not hesitate to live by her principles. To find supporters that made it possible for her to travel for instance by boat to the Americas and back again. Well, this was quite an achievement!

Yes, in a way it did surprise me that Greta was able to get such an enormous support!

I want to keep it brief. So I only want to mention, that I find it surprising that so many people these days are able to live into their eighties or nineties. I would be surprised, if Peter and I were able to make it to the nineties! Somehow, I cannot quite imagine it. I am surprised about every year that we are still alive.

Just recently I was surprised that independent Senator Jacqui Lambie voted with the government to repeal the medevac bill. It does not seem to make sense, not at all.

Here is an interesting link to an article about the repeal bill:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-05/medevac-repeal-bill-scott-morrison-new-zealand-png-nauru/11765456

Australia is at present in the grip of enormous draught as well as disastrous bushfires with soaring temperatures and extremely strong winds. The government says, this is quite normal for Australia. A lot of people here want to talk about it why there is so much climate change, but the government says there is no need to talk about it or to do something about it. Am I surprised that our government acts this way? No, not at all. The Australian voters voted the present government in. It surprised me at the time. And I’ll be still more surprised, should they be voted in again at the next election.

 

 

 

 

 

1

Catastrophic Climate Change

I made the following comment on the contributor’s site: 

‘You say: “. . . we might still light a candle for democracy, for freedom, and for truth.” Let’s hope so. Great article. I’ll publish a link to it on my website together with some excerpts of your article.’

Catastrophic climate change is not a problem for Fascists — It is a solution

Catastrophic climate change is not a problem for Fascists — It is a solution


Umair Haque writes: The tables have turned. The problem isn’t climate change anymore, and the solution isn’t global cooperation — given today’s implosive politics. The problem is you — if you are not one of the chosen, predatory few. And the solution to the problem of you is climate change. To the fascists, that is.

How Capitalism Torched the Planet by Imploding Into Fascism

Umair Haque, Eudaimonia & Co

…………….

“There are no solutions, because these were never “problems” to begin with. The planet, like society, is a garden, which needs tending, watering, care. The linkages between these things — inequality destabilizing societies making global cooperation less possible — are not things we can fix overnight, by turning a nut or a bolt, or throwing money at them. They never were. They are things we needed to see long ago, to really reject together, and invest in, nurture, protect, defend, for decades — so that capitalism did not melt down into fascism, and take away all our power to fight for our worlds, precisely when we would need it most.

But we did not do that. We were busy “solving problems”. Problems like…hey, how can I get my laundry done? Can I get my package delivered in one hour instead of one day? Wow — you mean I don’t have to walk down the street to get my pizza anymore? Amazing!! In this way, we solved all the wrong problems, if you like, but I would say that we solved mechanical problems instead of growing up as people. Things like climate change and inequality and fascism are not really “problems” — they are emergent processes, which join up, in great tendrils of ruin, each piling on the next, which result from decades of neglect, inaction, folly, blindness. We did not plant the seeds, or tend to our societies, economies, democracies, or planet carefully enough — and now we are harvesting bitter ruin instead. Maybe you see my point. Or maybe you don’t see my point at all. I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a tough one to catch sight of.)

The tables have turned. The problem isn’t climate change anymore, and the solution isn’t global cooperation — at least given today’s implosive politics. The problem is you — if you are not one of the chosen, predatory few. And the solution to the problem of you is climate change. To the fascists, that is. They are quite overjoyed to have found the most spectacular and efficient and lethal engine of genocide and devastation known to humankind, which is endless, free natural catastrophe. Nothing sorts the strong from the weak more ruthlessly like a flooded planet, a thundering sky, a forest in flames, a parched ocean. A man with a gun is hardly a match for a planet on fire.

I think this much becomes clearer by the year: we have failed, my friends, to save our home. How funny that we are focused, instead, on our homelands. It would be funny, disgraceful, and pathetic of me to say: is there still time to save ourselves? That is the kind of nervous, anxious selfishness that Americans are known for — and it is only if we reject it, really, that we learn the lesson of now. Let us simply imagine, instead, that despite all the folly and stupidity and ruin of this age, the strongmen and the weak-minded, in those dark and frightening nights when the rain pours and the thunder roars, we might still light a candle for democracy, for freedom, and for truth. The truth is that we do not deserve to be saved if we do not save them first.”

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UN says climate genocide is coming. It’s actually worse.
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We’re on track for four degrees of warming, more than twice as much as most scientists believe is possible to endure without inflicting climate suffering on hundreds of millions or threatening at least parts of what we call, grandly, “civilization.” The only thing that changed is that the scientists, finally, have hit the panic button.

Report: The rise of the Right and climate catastrophe
Michael T. Klare
Nationalistic exceptionalism could become something of the norm if Donald Trump wins, or other nations put the needs of a fossil fuel-based domestic growth agenda ahead of global climate commitments. In its latest report, the Norwegian energy giant Statoil outlines a chilling scenario focused on just this sort of dystopian future.

Without a viable alternative to capitalism, our goose is cooked
Richard Smith
The fundamental contradiction with capitalism is that maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, occasionally they coincide for a moment. But saving the world requires that the pursuit of profits be systematically subordinated to ecological concerns— and this no corporation can do.

Capitalism and the destruction of life on earth: Six theses on saving the humans
Richard Smith, Truthout
As global capitalist economic growth accelerates planetary ecological collapse, Richard Smith argues that – impossible as it may seem at present – only the most radical solution -the overthrow of global capitalism, the construction of a mostly publicly-owned and mostly planned eco-socialist economy is the only alternative to the collapse of civilization and ecological suicide.

How vulture capitalism is swallowing the world
Honi Soit, HoniSoit.com
“What you see in a lot of countries is a predatory capitalism, from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Australia, which show the corporations that are involved in the neo-liberal agenda, an agenda that has been implemented without really any public consent. This is happening, I would argue, almost by stealth,” says author and journalist Anthony Lowenstein.

 

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2 Responses “Catastrophic climate change is not a problem for Fascists — It is a solution”

  1. 2nd October 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Sorry to say, this is too superficial for such a serious subject, not convincing at all. This is merely scapegoating a system, i.e. a thing, for the “sins” of humans, groups of humans and leaders of humans.
    This is also very cheap. Since all of us are humans, can think and have a will, Haque and leftists who share this view (Ecologise.in has referred to two articles of Richard Smith) can exonerate us all by blaming a thing, namely capitalism, for everything that is bad in the world. As if capitalism fell from the sky like a meteor. As if it were a sort of Satanic being, a Frankenstein, with a character and will of its own.
    This is also ahistorical thinking. Industrial Capitalism as we know it – and Huque is writing of this capitalism – is just 200 to 250 years old. Who or what is to blame for its coming into existence? Who or what is to blame for all the pre-capitalist evils and environmental destructions? Who or what was responsible, for example, for the demise of the ancient Sumerian civilization? (Please read Clive Ponting’s A Green History of the World). Were not the Jews persecuted in Europe since much before Capitalism came into being? And why could not the Kaiser. the king and the Czar of Germany, Great Britain and Russia respectively, who were even cousins, cooperate to prevent the First World War?
    This is not the place to write a whole essay. I only suggest that Haque and all who share this view of his delve a little deeper into the human condition in search of answers to the serious questions of our cursed times, and in order to know what can still be done. For instance, take cognizance of the fact of limits to growth, of the fact that It is simply impossible to fulfill the continuously growing “needs”, demands, wishes, aspirations and ambitions of a continuously growing world population while our resource base is continuously dwindling and the ability of nature to absorb man-made pollution is continuously diminishing, of the fact that it is a lunatic idea that in a finite world infinite growth is possible.

  2. Anonymous

    15th October 2019 at 3:30 am

    Yes, it is obvious, in a finite world infinite growth is not possible.
    So, if infinite growth is not possible, why then do capitalists act as though it was possible?

 

No Class, Posted on October 6, 2019 By John Stepling

Below I copied some of John Stepling’s post, that is titled ‘No Class’.

It is interestig that Stepling cites several authors in connection with climate change, capitalism and class. He cites for instance John Bellamy Foster who talks about

the growth of various movements in the fascist genre (whether prefascism, protofascism, classical fascism, postfascism, neofascism, neoliberal fascism, ur-fascism, peripheral fascism, white supremacism, or national populism …..’

Stepling says that ‘global warming is a fact that humanity will have to adjust to and learn to live with.’ And that the ‘so labeled *Climate Change* crisis has very little to do with protecting Nature.’

He also says: ‘The incursion of technology into nearly every waking moment of the daily life of the Westerner has conditioned a populace, one that doesn’t read, to see the acceleration of everything as natural. . . And capitalism is not compatible with the direction those changes and care must take. Risking the direction for needed change by allowing capital investments to chart the course is a very dangerous idea.’ 

“I think that most of the confusion in this respect has been the product of a failure to develop a class analysis of these changes. From a class perspective, it is clear that what we are seeing is the growth of various movements in the fascist genre (whether prefascism, protofascism, classical fascism, postfascism, neofascism, neoliberal fascism, ur-fascism, peripheral fascism, white supremacism, or national populism—you can take your pick). Fascist-type movements share certain definite class-based characteristics or tendencies. Although it is common in liberal discourse to approach such movements at the level of appearance, in terms of their ideological characteristics, such an idealist methodology only throws a veil over the underlying reality. — John Bellamy Foster, Interview, Monthly Review, September 2019″

The purveyors of free-market global capitalism believe that they have a right to plunder the remaining natural resources of this planet as they choose. Anyone who challenges their agenda is to be subjected to whatever misrepresentation and calumny that serves the free market corporate agenda. — Michael Parenti, Interview with Jason Miller, 2016

When environmentalism unfolds within a system of heightened inequality and inadequate democratization, it does so unequally and autocratically. The result is not a “saved” climate, but rather enhanced revenue streams for corporations. — Maximillian Forte, Climate Propaganda for Corporate Profit: Bell Canada

 

The following I copied from Stepling’s writing:

“John Bellamy Foster noted that it was a lack of class analysis that has stifled left discourse over the last twenty years. And I have noted that when one does engage in class analysis the first response, very often, is to be called a conspiracy theorist. Now, this is largely because any class dissection will tend to unearth connections that have been hidden, consciously, by Capital — that those hidden forces and histories are experienced by the liberal left and faux left as somehow impossible. Class analysis means that the non-marxist liberal left is going to be faced with the malevolence of the ruling class, and in the U.S. certainly, the ruling class tends to be adored, secretly or otherwise, by the bourgeoisie.”

“When the U.S.S.R. dissolved the West intensified its propaganda onslaught immediately. And a good part of this propaganda was focused on the denial of class. On the right, the FOX News right, “class warfare” became a term of derision and also humour. And among liberal and educated bourgeoisie the avoidance of class was the result of a focus on, and validations of, rights for marginalized groups — even if that meant inventing new groups on occasion. Class was conspicuously missing in most identity rights discourse.”

“And the climate discourse, which was suddenly visible in mainstream media early 2000s, there was almost never a mention of class. Hence the new appropriation of that discourse by open racist eugenicists like “Sir” David Attenborough, and billionaire investors and publishers. Even by royalty. By 2015 or so there was what Denis Rancourt called the institutionalisation of a climate ethos. I have even seen of late self-identified leftists suggesting the “Greta” phenomenon was the working class finding its voice. (No, I’m not making that up). I have also seen many leftists — many of whom I have known for years — simply hysterical around the subject of this teenager. Her greatest appeal is to middle aged white men. I have no real explanation for that. But then these same men quote, often, everyone from Guy McPherson (who I think needs a padded cell, frankly) to Bill McKibben — an apologist for militarism and wealth… here …. […]”

I have read Stepling’s post several times. I am not sure what his opinion is as far as capital investment goes. Does he think that capital investment should not chart the course of needed change? He also says capitalism is not compatible with the direction those changes and care must take’.

Another thing is that he  describes Bill McKibben as an ‘apologist for militarism and wealth’. Is it perhaps that he means that the class of right wing ‘capitalists’ cannot be trusted to do something for the majority of people about climate change that would help the ordinary people in some way?

And what about Guy McPherson? This is what Wikipedia says about him:

Guy R. McPherson is an American scientist, professor emeritus[2] of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.[3][4] He is known for the idea of Near-Term Human Extinction (NTHE), a term he coined[4] about the likelihood of human extinction by 2030.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_McPherson

Here I copied something about Guy McPherson’s latest book:

https://auntyuta.com/2019/10/10/only-love-remains-dancing-at-the-edge-of-extinction/

Stepling does insist that ‘Class exists and is part of the hierarchical system of global capitalism.’

 

 

Uta’s Diary

I found in ‘The Land Destroyer Report’ some articles that interested me very much. And I just published copies of some items in these articles:

https://auntyuta.com/2019/10/02/these-items-i-did-copy-from-the-land-destroyer-report/

As far as Greta Thunberg is concerned, I can only say that I feel as emotional as she does about the establishment’s inaction about climate change. Yesterday I did look through a number of YouTube videos that give great information about scientist’s view in regard to the crisis for humanity and the urgency to do something about climate change. I cannot, absolutely cannot understand, why the economy always has priority in our leaders’ thinking over issues to do with climate change. How dare our leaders tell young people ‘not to worry’!!

Here are some examples what scientists say about climate change. These facts, that are stated in these videos, all of us should know about:

https://auntielive.wordpress.com/page/1/

A Drop in Living Standards?

I ask myself the same questions again that I asked already a few days ago. Here they are:

“A drop in living standards to sustainable levels? It seems to me, hardly anyone is prepared for a drop in their living standards especially if our leaders do not have the guts to insist on it.
What then is most likely to happen in the near future?
Some more far thinking people tell us, something catastrophic may happen, namely the collapse of our natural support systems. . . . The majority of people so far resist believing all this. especially when the leaders give the impression that it is all right to just continue with our way of living the way it is. So, why change anything when we have such a ‘good life’; isn’t this the attitude of most people?”

I say it again, the majority of people so far resist believing that a drop in living standards to sustainable levels is necessary. I would say, in all war situations people generally did accept a drop in their living standards. They had to, right? My own experience in World War Two and the years after the war (in Germany that is) showed me that people could quite well exist with a huge drop in their living standards. Actually, a lot of people seemed to live a healthier life when food was scarce. This of course does not include people who suffered very ill health because of starvation! One might say, there is a actually a great difference between a scarcity of food for a lot of people and some terrible starving because of severe food shortages. . . . Anyhow, I think, excessive food consumption and wastage of food, the way it is being encouraged in our affluent society,  we should better try to avoid.

I think the excessive climate changes could be kept in better check if we tried very hard to avoid all these excesses of our modern way of life. We should act more and more as though we are in a war situation already!

The problem is, that most people in First World countries do not believe as yet that severe climate change is something we should be prepared for. However, all our knowledge about the climate change crisis should tell all of us that a crisis it is, a crisis as great a we face in a great war. And this crisis demands that our governments and big corporations act accordingly so that people in these crisis zones have a chance to survive.

And here now are a few reflections of mine what for instance life in ‘advanced’ countries such as Germany was like in the 1930s and even during the war between 1939 and 1945, as well as in during the difficult post-war years.

What puzzles me is, that I cannot recall that at any time during those years anyone had to live on the streets. Even during the time of bomb raids the survivors of bomb raids, as far as I know, did not have to live in the open but were accomodated in buildings that could still be lived in. A lot of people had to share accommodation with other people, meaning a four room apartment, apart from the original residents, was then shared with several other needy people.

During the time of World War Two some very severe bombing campaigns occured all over the world with severe loss of life. Ten examples can be seen in the following link.

 

Is the Extinction Rebellion Movement our last Chance?

https://theconversation.com/extinction-rebellion-im-an-academic-embracing-direct-action-to-stop-climate-change-107037

Rupert Read is affiliated with Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party.

Rupert Read says:

“I’m a Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and I have thrown myself headfirst into this movement. Our long-term aim is to create a situation where the government can no longer ignore the determination of an increasingly large number of people to shift the world from what appears to be a direct course towards climate calamity. Who knows, the government could even end up having to negotiate with the rebels.”

Further on he says:

“The Extinction Rebellion challenges oligarchy and neoliberal capitalism for their rank excess and the political class for its deep lack of seriousness. But the changes that will be needed to arrest the collapse of our climate and biodiversity are now so huge that this movement is concerned with changing our whole way of life. Changing our dietsignificantly. Changing our transport systems drastically. Changing the way our economies work to radically relocalise them. The list goes on.

This runs up against powerful vested interests – but also places considerable demands upon ordinary citizens, especially in “developed” countries such as the UK. It is therefore a much harder ask. This means that the chances of the Extinction Rebellion succeeding are relatively slim. But this doesn’t prove it’s a mistaken enterprise – on the contrary, it looks like our last chance.”

So he admits that the chances of the Extinction Rebellion succeeding are relatively slim. Still, I think we should want it to succeed, because it looks like this maybe our last chance!!

When I looked up the above link to ‘changing our diets’ I found this article in The Guardian:

Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/10/huge-reduction-in-meat-eating-essential-to-avoid-climate-breakdown

What do you think, does it look like that a huge reduction in meat-eating should be achievable? I think we would have to get governments to agree to want to be working towards achieving such a reduction. If governments had the will to introduce certain policies, policies that would for instance be necessary in war-time, then a real lot could be achieved.

To use our cars less, is another thing that we could all keep in mind!

“Changing the way our economies work to radically relocalise them”: Do you have any ideas how this could work?

Refugees

Who is a refugee? How many refugees are there in our world? Where do they live?

I found some interesting information here:

http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/refugees/index.html

The world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home by conflict and persecution at the end of 2016. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.  .  .  .

And there is so much more on this subject on this UNHCR page! There is also this video:

Here is what one YouTube viewer wrote:

Pedro Heberle1 year ago

“OK, listen. I studied your report the whole day, and there are a few mistakes in this video. I hope you don’t find me obnoxious for pointing them out — and I do think I owe that to how much Global Trends helps me every year: 1) “One person is forcibly displaced every three seconds. That’s 65.6 million people.” No, actually that’s the 10.3 million newly displaced people in 2016 alone, whereas 65.6 million is the total, current population of forcibly displaced. Believe me, I did the math. 2) The number of refugees from South Sudan is 1.4 million! This is what the report says. Plus, the number of internally displaced is obviously higher than that of refugees — I’m not sure whether that always happens, but it surely is the tendency for a least developed country in war. 3) As to the discussion of the refugee-hosting countries, the figures for Pakistan are from last year (they fell in 2016, and today the country hosts only around 1.4 million refugees), whereas the figures for Turkey have risen, but not quite as much as you put it: it hosts less — not more — than 2.9 million refugees (2.869 millions, to be exact). Other than that, your work is beautiful, and I am a fan (I’m serious).”

I was especially interested to find something too about displacement due to climate change and natural disasters as follows:

“In addition to persecution and conflict, in the 21st century, natural disaster (sometimes due to climate change) can also force people to seek refuge in other countries. Such disasters – floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, mudslides – are increasing in frequency and intensity. While most of the displacement caused by these events is internal, they can also cause people to cross borders. None of the existing international and regional refugee law instruments, however, specifically addresses the plight of such people.

Displacement caused by the slow-onset effects of climate change is largely internal as well. But through its acceleration of drought, desertification, the salinization of ground water and soil, and rising sea levels, climate change, too, can contribute to the displacement of people across international frontiers.

Other human-made calamities, such as severe socio-economic deprivation, can also cause people to flee across borders. While some may be escaping persecution, most leave because they lack any meaningful option to remain. The lack of food, water, education, health care and a livelihood would not ordinarily and by themselves sustain a refugee claim under the 1951 Convention. Nevertheless, some of these people may need some form of protection.

All of these circumstances – conflict, natural disasters, and climate change pose enormous challenges for the international humanitarian community. ”

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Company
Image result for unhcr

Description

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is a United Nations programme with the mandate to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people, and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. Wikipedia

AbbreviationUNHCR, HCR
Founded14 December 1950

In the Conversation an Article about Climate Change

This is an article in The Conversation:

https://theconversation.com/climate-change-doubled-the-likelihood-of-the-new-south-wales-heatwave-72871

Climate change doubled the likelihood of the New South Wales heatwave

February 16, 2017 6.10am AEDT Updated February 17, 2017 1.29pm AE

The heatwave that engulfed southeastern Australia at the end of last week has seen heat records continue to tumble like Jenga blocks.

On Saturday February 11, as New South Wales suffered through the heatwave’s peak, temperatures soared to 47℃ in Richmond, 50km northwest of Sydney, while 87 fires raged across the state amid catastrophic fire conditions.

On that day, most of NSW experienced temperatures at least 12℃ above normal for this time of year. In White Cliffs, the overnight minimum was 34.2℃, a new record for the state’s highest observed minimum temperature.

On Friday, the average maximum temperature right across NSW hit 42.4℃, beating the previous February record of 42.0℃. The new record stood for all of 24 hours before it was smashed again on Saturday, as the whole state averaged 44.0℃ at its peak. At this time, NSW was the hottest place on Earth.

A degree or two here or there might not sound like much, but to put it in cricketing parlance, those temperature records are the equivalent of a modern test batsman retiring with an average of over 100 – the feat of outdoing Don Bradman’s fabled 99.94 would undoubtedly be front-page news.

And still the records continue to fall. Mungindi, on the border with Queensland, broke the NSW record of 50 days in a row above 35℃, set just four years ago at Bourke Airport, with the new record now at 52 days.

Meanwhile, two days after that sweltering Saturday we woke to find the fires ignited during the heatwave still cutting a swathe of destruction, with the small town of Uarbry, east of Dunedoo, all but burned to the ground.

Maximum temperature anomalies across NSW on February 11, the peak of the heatwave. Bureau of Meteorology, Author provided

This is all the more noteworthy when we consider that the El Niño of 2015-16 is long gone and the conditions that ordinarily influence our weather are firmly in neutral. This means we should expect average, not sweltering, temperatures.

Since Christmas, much of eastern Australia has been in a flux of extreme temperatures. This increased frequency of heatwaves shows a strong trend in observations, which is set to continue as the human influence on the climate deepens.

It is all part of a rapid warming trend that over the past decade has seen new heat records in Australia outnumber new cold records by 12 to 1.

Let’s be clear, this is not natural. Climate scientists have long been saying that we would feel the impacts of human-caused climate change in heat records first, before noticing the upward swing in average temperatures (although that is happening too). This heatwave is simply the latest example.

What’s more, in just a few decades’ time, summer conditions like these will be felt across the whole country regularly.

Attributing the heat

The useful thing scientifically about heatwaves is that we can estimate the role that climate change plays in these individual events. This is a relatively new field known as “event attribution”, which has grown and improved significantly over the past decade.

Using the Weather@Home climate model, we looked at the role of human-induced climate change in this latest heatwave, as we have for other events before.

We compared the likelihood of such a heatwave in model simulations that factor in human greenhouse gas emissions, compared with simulations in which there is no such human influence. Since 2017 has only just begun, we used model runs representing 2014, which was similarly an El Niño-neutral year, while also experiencing similar levels of human influence on the climate.

Based on this analysis, we found that heatwaves at least as hot as this one are now twice as likely to occur. In the current climate, a heatwave of this severity and extent occurs, on average, once every 120 years, so is still quite rare. However, without human-induced climate change, this heatwave would only occur once every 240 years.

In other words, the waiting time for the recent east Australian heatwave has halved. As climate change worsens in the coming decades, the waiting time will reduce even further.

Our results show very clearly the influence of climate change on this heatwave event. They tell us that what we saw last weekend is a taste of what our future will bring, unless humans can rapidly and deeply cut our greenhouse emissions.

Our increasingly fragile electricity networks will struggle to cope, as the threat of rolling blackouts across NSW showed. It is worth noting that the large number of rooftop solar panels in NSW may have helped to avert such a crisis this time around.

Our hospital emergency departments also feel the added stress of heat waves. When an estimated 374 people died from the heatwave that preceded the Black Saturday bushfires the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine resorted to storing bodies in hospitals, universities and funeral parlours. The Victorian heatwave of January 2014 saw 167 more deaths than expected, along with significant increases in emergency department presentations and ambulance callouts.

Infrastructure breaks down during heatwaves, as we saw in 2009 when railway lines buckled under the extreme conditions, stranding thousands of commuters. It can also strain Australia’s beloved sporting events, as the 2014 Australian Open showed.

These impacts have led state governments and other bodies to investigate heatwave management strategies, while our colleagues at the Bureau of Meteorology have developed a heatwave forecast service for Australia.

These are likely to be just the beginning of strategies needed to combat heatwaves, with conditions currently regarded as extreme set to be the “new normal” by the 2030s. With the ramifications of extreme weather clear to everyone who experienced this heatwave, there is no better time to talk about how we can ready ourselves.

We urgently need to discuss the health and economic impacts of heatwaves, and how we are going to cope with more of them in the future.


We would like to acknowledge Robert Smalley, Andrew Watkins and Karl Braganza of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for providing observations included in this article. This article was amended on February 16, 2017, to include updated weather observations.

Sealevel Rise

https://theconversation.com/au/topics/sea-level-rise

 

Rising seas threaten to drown important mangrove forests, unless we intervene

October 15, 2015 6.33am AEDT

Mangroves put their roots down where few other plants will. Catherine Lovelock, Author provided

 

Getting to the root of it all

Mangroves grow along tropical coasts. Unique amongst the world’s plants, they can survive in salt water and can filter seawater. The rain of leaf-fall from tropical mangrove forests provides food for crabs and other herbivores, the foundation of a food web that extends to fish (and therefore people) right across the tropics.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of mangroves are their roots, used to anchor the plant on unstable ground and buttress against wind, waves and currents. The form of root architecture varies greatly between families of mangrove, including the dense prop-roots (Rhizophora), cathedral-like buttresses (Bruguiera), and numerous pneumatophores – literally narrow breathing–tubes – of the common grey mangrove of southeast Australia (Avicennia).

Prop roots on a mangrove Ruth Reef

A high proportion of the living mass of mangroves exists below-ground. This means mangroves are the most efficient ecosystem globally in the capture and sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The uniquely oxygen-poor, salty characteristics of mangrove soil provides the perfect setting for long-term preservation of carbon below ground. The typical mangrove forest sequesters several times more carbon dioxide than a tropical rainforest of comparable size.

Mangrove roots trap sediment as currents carrying suspended particles are intercepted and slowed. Between the carbon sequestered below-ground, and the sediment trapped within the tangle of roots, mangroves are effectively able to raise the height of the land over time.

Keeping up with rising seas

Analysis of these sediments shows mangroves can deal with low to moderate sea-level rise by building up land. But how will mangroves respond to future rising seas when people are in the way?

We and other colleagues measured how fast mangrove forests in the Indo-Pacific region increase the height of the land. We used a tool called Surface Elevation Table-Marker Horizon, as you see in the video below.

 

Mangroves also build up land height by accumulating roots below ground. Previous studies have focused on this. Our study, using up to 16 years of data across a range of coastal settings, shows that sediment build up is also important.

We also compared the rate of land height increase in mangroves to local tidal gauges, to assess whether mangroves were keeping pace with the local rate of sea-level rise.

In most cases (90 out of 153 monitoring stations) mangroves were lagging behind. This is not an immediate problem if mangroves are already high enough to delay the effect of expected sea-level rise. However, mangroves at the low end of their elevation are highly vulnerable.

We used this insight to model how long mangroves might survive rising seas across the Indo-Pacific. We used a range of sea-level rise projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including a low-range scenario (48 cm by 2010), high-range (63 cm by 2100) and extreme (1.4 m by 2100).

Mangrove forests with a high tidal range and/or high sediment supply such as Northern Australia, eastern Borneo, east Africa and the Bay of Bengal proved to be relatively resilient. Most of these forests will likely survive well into the second half of the century under low and moderate rates of sea-level rise.

The prospect of mangrove survival to 2070 under the 63 cm and 1.4 m scenarios was poor for the Gulf of Thailand, the southeast coast of Sumatra, the north coasts of Java and Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Dams holding mangroves back

Our results imply that factors that prevent sediment building up may prevent mangroves responding to sea-level rise. This might include dams holding sediment within water catchments.

This impact is already being felt. An 80% reduction in sediment delivery to the Chao Phraya River delta has, for example, contributed to kilometres of mangrove shoreline retreat.

Similar developments are planned for the Mekong River. These threats compound those already being felt, including the widespread conversion of mangrove to aquaculture.

Appreciation of the financial contribution of mangroves has been slowing the trend of decline. However, long-term survival will require planning that includes both the continued provision of sediment supply, and in many cases the provision of retreat pathways, to allow mangroves to respond to sea level in ways they always have.