Report from Down Under: Everything Was on Fire, Everywhere….
January 25, 2013
Video and a note from a reader Down Under, Mike Mariopolis.
What does climate change mean to you?
For three years I’ve been running a blog called Watching the Deniers, a site dedicated to examining the claims of climate sceptics and the techniques they use to sow confusion. I’ve also attempted to highlight the risk climate change poses.
In addition to writing about climate scepticism I’ve also immersed myself in the science. I kept up with the latest papers and blog posts; I read deeply and broadly works form both the popular and technical literature. I wanted to be informed; to understand the science.
Those of us who research climate change, blog on the topic or wish to educate the broader public are often consumed with questions about effective messaging and inspiring others to act. What will make an impact? What will motivate people to act: to demand change from their leaders?
All worthy questions, and worth debating.
But knowledge – even foreknowledge – often fails to match the lived experience. Which is the exact position both myself and many of my fellow Australians have found themselves in this past month.
You may have seen the news reports about the heat wave and bush-fires Australia is experiencing. As expected, those sceptical of climate change have simply dismissed these events as another “typical” Australian summer.
But its not. Its far from typical.
It is extraordinary.
The word you hear repeated again, and again in the media and from the experts is “unprecedented”. However even during this extraordinary time most of the mainstream media is failing to make the connection with climate change.
The severity, duration and extent of the heat wave is unprecedented (there’s that word again).
For the last month large parts of the continent have been burning: Australia is on fire. Everything is on fire, everywhere.
This is climate change.
This is what it feels like – this is the experience of living on a radically different Earth.
Most scientists are understandably reticent to link specific events to climate change, however I wanted to convey something of what living through these extraordinary events feels like. I could have written another blog post, but I felt that was insufficient to capture the scale of what is happening. I also wanted to make explicit the link between what the science had been predicting for decades, and what was actually happening “Down Under”. And I wanted to offer a deeply personal reflection.
Hence this video. It is literally the first film I’ve ever made, and I spent hours agonising over it. I become obsessed with “getting it right”, fretting over my novice film making efforts. But as a friend explained, a piece of art or literature is never finished: it is merely abandoned. I stopped worrying about its flaws, and released it on YouTube. I hope to do more videos, as I’ve been greatly inspired by Peter’s work.
“Everything is on fire, everywhere” is my own personal reflection about living through climate change. However the real driver for making this video was to pay tribute to the people and communities affected by these extraordinary events.
And as ambitious as it sounds, I wanted to convey something about our common humanity. All of us - sceptics, warmists, liberals, conservatives, regardless of race, nationality, gender or status – are living through extraordinary times
Perhaps it is unfashionable in these deeply polarised times to say this, but it is my hope we recognise this common humanity and pull together.
The failure to do so will – quite literally – be catastrophic.