Drought, Climate Change and Gippsland

Former Nationals leader spruiking coal(ABC) 

Letter to Bairnsdale Advertiser – Unpublished

Our Federal and State National Party members of parliament have failed dismally to connect the current drought with global warming, either through ignorance or (more likely) the need to maintain the ‘party line’. The science has been around for a long time – burning fossil fuels (read coal) enhances the greenhouse effect. The enhanced greenhouse effect in turn means a generally dryer, warmer Gippsland. This has been measured over the last 50 years. It also means warmer days and nights, more evaporation and less soil moisture.

In June this year the Climate Council Fact Sheet “Climate Change and Drought” noted the following key findings: “Climate change is likely making drought conditions in… southeast Australia worse. Climate change has contributed to a southward shift in weather systems that typically bring cool season rainfall to southern Australia. Since the 1970s late autumn and early winter rainfall has decreased by 15 percent in southeast Australia… (and) Climate change is also driving an increase in the intensity and frequency of hot days and heatwaves in Australia, exacerbating drought conditions.”

It has also long been known that farming communities are our ‘front line’ in the ‘war’ against climate change. They are the most likely to suffer from the extreme weather events including droughts, heatwaves and bushfires but also the most likely to benefit from measures to ameliorate them, in particular renewable energy installations.

There is a direct link between burning fossil fuels and our warming climate. The National Party, with safe seats in Gippsland East and South, treat their supporters with contempt when they advocate the continued (even expanded) use of coal. This is the exact opposite of the measures required that will help reduce the alarming trends we are now experiencing as quickly as possible. Backing coal may be canny short term politics but in the long run it is a disaster for us all.