Jeff Canin Comment:  The Australian government continues to plumb new depths in its disregard for the environment, or as some would argue, their war on the environment. From their cavalier attitude to the future of the Great Barrier Reef in allowing the dumping of dredging spoils to today’s assertion that too many of Tasmanian forests are locked up in National Parks.  When the need for action on climate change is such a no brainer, why do our politicians continue to resist this so mightily.  I can think of only three reasons:  1.  They have room temperature IQs and just don’t get it.  2.  They have completely sold out to the fossil fuel industries and won’t do anything to restrict their immediate profits.  3.  They cannot think outside the electoral cycles, and will do anything to stay in power.  This means that any issues requiring long term thinking and planning gets dumped for short term populism.  I’ll leave you to decide which you think is the reason the rights of future generations are so easily dismissed.  Myself, I think its a combination of all three.

The Climate Lesson From Our Burning Summer

By James Murphy
James Murphy is a Policy Research & Strategy Volunteer with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. He studied Politics at Swinburne University.
The bushfires that swept the nation this summer are a reminder that climate change is not just an ecological catastrophe but a real and present danger to our communities, writes James Murphy

Today marks the close of another Angry Summer for our sunburnt country. For the last three months south-eastern Australia has been battered by record-hot days, a slew of brutal heat-waves, and galling dry-spells — and all of this during cooling phase of the El Niño cycle.

We’re also at the end of what’s been a truly fearsome bushfire season.

It began early — shockingly early — in September, with 500 firefighters battling blazes in Western Sydney. By October, New South Wales was in a state-of-emergency. Hundreds of fires scorched the state and over 200 homes were lost.

In January fires ran out of control through the Grampians in Victoria, the Flinders Ranges in SA and the Hunter Valley in NSW. Just three weeks ago bushfire swept through the Adelaide Hills and took dozens of homes in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs. Fires are still burning at Hazelwood power station, covering the Latrobe Valley in dangerous smoke. It’s been wave after wave after wave of fire and we could well be in for more before autumn truly kicks in.

It’s plain to see that bushfires are becoming more and more frequent. Over the past few years there have been a dozen panels, inquiries, reviews and commissions put together to tell us how we can stop this happening again. They’ve come back to us with reports overflowing with recommendations on how to minimise the fire threat, from repairing the power grid to centralising emergency services to new insurance levies and public information schemes.

It’s all important stuff, but each time we somehow manage to miss one of the biggest contributor to the fire risk in our corner of the country: fossil fuels. Read more →