Just how often are we told that disaster awaits us unless we do something about global warming? Like many people, I suspect, there have been so many predictions of doom that I no longer absorb any of the detail. Is the future apocalypse announced on tonight’s news the same one as on the morning news, or is it a new one? They all the seem the same unless you pay close attention.
For the next month, I plan to keep track of global warming disaster stories in the Australian media. I am not going to count every report (that would take too long), but I want to link to as many of the separate stories as I can. I think this might be interesting as part of my series of posts on the politics of global warming. My hunch is that scaring people into action is no longer an effective strategy; it has people convinced that things need to change, but not that they personally should do much about it.
1. Tasmanian researchers warn that many plant species are on the verge of disappearing. “UTAS researcher Dr Mark Hovenden says it’s a compelling case for reducing greenhouse emissions.”
2. Global temperatures to rise by 6 degrees unless radical changes adopted, says International Energy Agency.
3. A recycling of an old report, but in today’s Australian:
UN’s Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said greenhouse-gas emissions were already inflicting visible changes to the climate system, especially on ice and snow. Left unchecked, climate change could inflict widespread drought and flooding by the end of the century, translating into hunger, homelessness and other stresses for millions of people.
4. Sydney protestors demand action: Ms Hunt said urgent action was needed. “Looming on the horizon is the destruction of my future,” she said. And in the Perth version of the same protest: ‘”Cottesloe, one of Perth’s most popular beaches, will be lost to rising sea levels if we fail to take urgent action to prevent global warming,” Ms Hofmeester said.’
5. A matter-of-fact tone, but dire warnings of what will happen to infrastructure: “Over the next 20 to 30 years extreme weather events are likely to overwhelm infrastructure constructed to current design standards. Buildings, roads, railways, ports and airports, bridges and tunnels will all experience increased pressure and require repair, maintenance and upgrading works.”
6. Clown not amused by denialists: Q . Is there anything you don’t find funny when it comes to the state of the planet? A. Yes. Inaction. Particularly by people who should know better: politicians and the heads of big businesses. Also, there are still people who attempt to argue climate change hasn’t begun.
7. Brisbane storms sign of things to come with a changing climate.
8. A kit for environmental protestors suggests staging of a mock funeral for the Great Barrier Reef. ”Black clothing, veils, flowers and elaborate pantomime can communicate this tragedy,” the kit says. ‘
9. Another borderline case for its matter-of-fact tone, with insurers promising higher premiums to deal with climate change.
10. PM tells CEOs that all nations – developed and developing – to work together on climate change, warning to do otherwise could have catastrophic consequences. “Action by all major emitters is required to avert dangerous impacts of climate change,” Mr Rudd said.
11. Total disaster awaits: “Depending on the severity of climate change, the consequences for national security in affected countries could include population displacement, civil unrest, ethnic violence, food riots, conflicts over water and the collapse of state institutions.”
12. Hippies to attend workshop on “Responding to the Planetary Emergency”.
13. Seed bank to preserve plants threatened by climate change; with areas where some plants can grow already reduced.
14. The water supply of a billion people in South Asia at risk due to climate change.
15. If humankind continues with its dirty energy habits then we will fry the globe, preaches a speaker to the converted at a clean energy conference.
16. Borderline case for lack of hyperbolic tone, but climate change already killing off Great Barrier Reef.
17. Neutral tone again, but melting icebergs to raise sea levels.
18. Coal industry costs $700 billion a year through climate change.
19. International climate change negotiations have high stakes: With rare exceptions, studies say climate change is happening and its eventual impact may be worse than thought, inflicting droughts, floods, loss of snow and ice, more brutal storms and rising sea levels.”
20. Another fairly matter-of-fact tone, but Maldives to disappear under water due to climate change.
21. Labor not doing enough according to Greepeace; Australia risks again becoming a ‘rogue state’ on climate change.
22. High stakes for Poznan meeting, with ‘cataclysmic’ climate change on its way.
23. Maybe we are ruined no matter what we do: ‘studies, they say, indicate that human activity may be triggering powerful natural forces that would be nearly impossible to reverse and that could push temperatures up even further. At the top of the list for virtually all of the scientists canvassed was the rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap.’
24. And more on the above uber-apocalypse: ‘carbon dioxide emitted from today’s homes, cars and factories will continue to heat up the planet for hundreds of thousands of years.’
25. War, hunger, poverty and sickness will stalk humanity if the world fails to tackle climate change, a 12-day UN conference on global warming heard.
26. Not one, but two apocalypses, according to Phillip Adams.
27. Worsening scientific predictions mean that a 50% cut in emissions by 2050 may not be enough.
28. Venice threatened by climate change.
29. Possums disappearing due to climate change.
30. ‘Materialistic’ Victorians at mercy of climate change.
31. North Queensland ‘ground zero’ for climate change. ‘Its rainforest is dying, some animal species are on the brink of extinction, and mass coral bleaching events kill entire marine ecosystems.’
32. Sydney to have more bushfires due to climate change.
33. Half the world to have water shortages by 2050.
34. Climate change an ever-growing threat to public health.
35. Military planning for social breakdown caused by climate change.
36. Climate change hail storms to wreck Sydney roofs.
37. Member of Plane Stupid group, which blocks airport runways to protest against climate change, says “Being arrested is a terrifying prospect, but not nearly as terrifying as the threat of climate change.”
38. Planet risks becoming uninhabitable.
39. 35% of world’s coral reefs under threat from global warming.
40. Human right to good weather threatened; disasters to follow.
41. Small island states to disappear under water.
42. Flooded due to climate change? Take a legal class action against carbon emitters. But aren’t we all guilty of high carbon use?
43. World committing suicide, according to Tim Flannery.
44. Could planning authorities be sued for permitting buildings in low-lying areas? Not if they ban such buildings.
45. It’s even worse than you thought.
46. ‘Horrendous’ consequences await if we don’t do enough to stop climate change.
47. Expanding deserts to add to human misery.