The smoke blanketing the NSW capital of Sydney has highlighted the severity of the state’s bushfires — and climate inaction isn’t helping.
With the city’s air pollution reaching eleven times the hazardous level, and over 700 homes destroyed in the state, public pressure has mounted on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to link the bushfire emergency and climate change.
The Prime Minister is also facing a barrage of criticism from his ruling party.
NSW Liberal Energy Minister Matt Kean told the Smart Energy Summit that the bushfire tragedy had been foretold by scientists and fire emergency professionals.
In a strong rebuke of his own party’s climate policies, Kean told attendees weather conditions were abnormal. Yet at the same time, climate inaction continues to rage on.
“Not Normal” Weather, Yet No Action Taken By Prime Minister Morrison
“Longer drier periods, resulting in more drought and bushfire,” he said. “If this is not a catalyst for change, then I don’t know what is. This is not normal and doing nothing is not a solution.”
“We need to reduce our carbon emissions immediately, and we need to adapt our practices to deal with this kind of weather becoming the new normal.”
Kean elaborated on his extraordinary broadside on the ABC’s Radio National the next day.
“We’ve got a problem. [The emergency] is not changing my view – before the bushfires, my view was a very strong one… we need to be doing our bit to protect our environment.”
Viral Blog Post Signals Dissatisfaction With Morrison’s Climate Inaction
As well as causing divisions in his own party, Morrison has taken heat from ordinary Australians. It is partially due to climate inaction. But additionally, his refusal to assist volunteer firefighters has struck outrage among Australians.
An example of the outrage was the reaction to a powerful and engaging blog post written by author-educator Meg McGowan. In the post, she criticizes the PM’s statement that volunteer firefighters “want to be there” and therefore wouldn’t receive government assistance.
Meg’s husband Graham King is Deputy Captain in the local Central Coast brigade. He has been fighting fires in the region while making do with poor protective equipment to battle the thick smoke.
Such was the power, elegance, and timing of the article that it went viral with hundreds of thousands of views. This prompted national TV show The Project to ask Meg and Graham to film a segment with them.
Author Meg McGowan Shares That Morrison Adds To List Of Leaders Who Exhibit Climate Action
I asked Meg on behalf of theRising what she thought caused the post’s incredible popularity. Meg conceded that the answer wasn’t straightforward. She added that “Morrison is just the most recent in a long line of leaders that have failed to act”.
“Small changes two decades ago could have had a huge impact by now. The problem is now so severe that we need urgent action on a much larger scale.”
Climate Action Fueled By Governmental Arrogance
She added that people are upset at the government’s arrogance towards firefighters and its inability to enact meaningful climate policies.
“Based on the comments I’m reading his seeming lack of empathy made a lot of people very angry, so I would say it was a major contributor, but you can never really know. It might be that people’s general frustration with the lack of action over climate change was the driver, or their frustrations at [environmental party] The Greens being blamed, or their sudden realization that firefighters are not superheroes but ordinary people doing a tough job,” she told me.
The bushfire crisis will continue as the Bureau of Meteorology predicts more dry weather over the next few months. And climate inaction won’t make that any better.