By the time Scott Morrison emerges from Covid isolation on Tuesday 8 March 2022, most flood waters across the east coast will have receded, so he may not need a snorkel to lurch for a passing handshake.
For the average flooded 'photo-op Joe', Scotty's recent Covid bout would probably be enough to put you off shaking his paw. If not, there's the years of climate denial that drove the 2020 summer fires and now the 2022 floods that just might continue the great Aussie f*off response. But even as the great non-handshake makes a good meme, it's the lack of action driving the sentiment driving the meme that's more frightening than climate change washing, burning and blowing out our lives.
THE REALITY OF OUR NEW CLIMATE NORMAL IS SINKING IN AS STEADILY AS THE FLOOD WATERS RECEDE. AND IT STINKS.
ACROSS THE FLOOD STRICKEN EAST COAST, THE LUCKY ONES HAVE FURNITURE AND BINS STUCK UP TREES, BUT PLACES LIKE LISMORE, WHERE ALMOST EVERY RESIDENT WAS AFFECTED BY THE FLOODS, WE ARE STEPPING INTO THE REALITY OF OUR COLLECTIVE FUTURES.
In Lismore, flood levels on February 28, 2022, reached a devastating 14.4 metres. The previous high was 12.46 metres in 1890. A flood levee built in 2005 was 10.7 metres high. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but there is a big difference between 10.7 metres and 14.4 metres.
With a completely inadequate defence system, the people of Lismore were left to fend for themselves during the flood and now with almost every home and business in Lismore is devastated and with no flood management strategy in place, what do you do with an entire city of mud to the eaves, no power and nowhere to live?
The irony is that it's not as if governments haven't mapped this kind of event. The NSW Department of Environment and Science has extensive climate change mapping and has done for years. Images of the hapless NSW Premier scrambling to answer questions about their management of the flood response, makes you wonder when governments are going to acknowledge we are in a very narrow, one-way street to extreme weather events. Forever.
WHAT ONCE SEEMED LIKE A DISTANT PROBLEM FOR OUR SOUTH PACIFIC NEIGHBOURS IS OUR OWN GRIM FUTURE REALITY. ESPECIALLY IF WE DON'T GET OUR COLLECTIVE ASSES MOVING FOR A BETTER CLIMATE PLAN.
Prime Ministers and Premiers alike need to stop the bullshit and show up. Praying and forcefully shaking muddy hands is 'nice', but Citizens need leaders who can lead.
AS THE WATERS RECEDE TO EXPOSE MUD, STENCH AND RUINED LIVES FROM OUR THIRD ONCE-IN-A-CENTURY FLOOD, IT'S PRETTY CLEAR THAT 99% OF THE WORLD'S SCIENTISTS WERE ACTUALLY ON TO SOMETHING WHEN THEY FIRST STARTED BANGING ON ABOUT THIS CLIMATE CHANGE STUFF 40 YEARS AGO.
With a federal election imminent in Australia, the climate agenda, or more realsitically, climate action, is set to become the driving issue.
To drive the point of our position home a little harder, the 6th IPCC Report on Climate Change was released on 27th February 2022 just as the storms that drove Australia's catastrophic floods began. The report makes some extremely grim reading and you can read in detail Australasia's position in a separate Chapter 11.
While the good news is that more people are beginning to take climate change seriously, the bad news is that it's happening now. It's not a work of fiction - someone's marketing campaing. We are now in a position where even if we can limit warming, the floods and bushfires we already see will never diminish. They will happen more often. And they will be bigger. Cyclones, of increasing intensity are headed further south into cities and communities that have never experienced them before.
While the economics of climate action are staggering, the misery is off the chart. And we're just getting started.
Images: Jennifer Nielsen, Brisbane Resident | Eddie Lloyd, Lismore Resident | Zunnoon Ahmed, Unsplash