Target: Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia
Goal: Demand that the Australian government acknowledge role of climate change in deadly wildfires
North America’s winter of 2013-2014 will go down as one of the coldest in recent memory. But south of the equator, in Australia, the summer of 2013-2014 is heating up to be one of the most devastating. Record temperatures as high as 122 °F have scorched the country, igniting wildfires many are calling “catastrophic.” Yet despite research conclusively linking heat waves and the resultant fires to climate change, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott continues to claim there’s no link whatsoever.
Wildfires have already damaged a nuclear research facility; the heat itself has claimed the lives of as many as 100,000 bats so far this summer season. Last year’s record heatwave, now referred to as the Angry Summer, will soon be a close second when Australians think about the harshest summers on record. And development projects like the world’s largest coal port, planned for construction near the Great Barrier Reef, are only going to make the situation worse.
Prime Minister Abbott claims to believe in both climate change and its devastating consequences. Why, then, is he continuing to deny any link between climate change and the deadly heat wave gripping his nation? Australia is seeing more fire-prone days than in years past, according to decades of research. Tell Abbott to acknowledge the proven link between increased wildfires and climate change, as a key step to addressing the problem now and in the future.
Dear Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia,
The heat waves and bushfires affecting much of Australia are on course to be even more severe than last year’s “Angry Summer.” Impact on farmland, human health, and wildlife populations will likely be catastrophic once again. Given the wealth of research demonstrating the connection between extreme weather events and climate change, your denial of any connection comes as a great disappointment.
Victoria University’s Professor Roger Jones, a climate impact expert, has said of the issue: “We can’t consider severe fires as one-offs that happen every few decades. If they’re becoming a systemic part of our environment we have to consider this really seriously. There will be a financial cost and a human cost, and we will see it repeated, if we don’t plan ahead.”
Ignoring this connection carries real consequences. New fossil fuels projects, which produce greenhouse gasses linked to climate change, are approved without truly taking into account the long term repercussions. I urge you to make a real commitment to addressing the devastating impacts of climate change, by acknowledging the connection to extreme weather like that currently facing Australia. Please, don’t let Angry Summers become the norm.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Chuq via Wikimedia