I never thought I'd see the Australian rainforest burning. What will it take for us to wake up to the climate crisis?

(The Guardian, 10 Sep 2019) This is playing out much faster than many of us scientists ever imagined.

These days as a climate scientist, the line of separation between the research I do in my professional life and the events unfolding in the world at large is growing ever thinner.

The extreme events that our community has been talking about for decades are now becoming part of our lived experience, season after season, year after year across the entire planet. What we are seeing play out now is much faster than many of us ever imagined.

Barely a week after sweltering through an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead author meeting discussing the UN group’s sixth global climate assessment report during an unseasonable European heatwave, it’s been surreal to return home to find much of Australia’s eastern seaboard engulfed in unprecedented bushfires crisis. In spring.

Right now there are about 80 fires in Queensland and a further 60 blazes raging through New South Wales. The maps show the east coast terrifyingly lit up like a grotesque Christmas tree. Many of these fires are burning out of control as the relentlessly gusty winds ground the firefighting aircraft needed to bring the blazes under control.

It is shocking to see such extreme and widespread fire weather conditions so early in the spring. In fact, this year the bushfire season actually started in winter, two months earlier than normal. Most alarmingly, some of these fires are occurring in subtropical and coastal areas that don’t usually burn.

External link

The Guardian, 10 Sep 2019: I never thought I'd see the Australian rainforest burning. What will it take for us to wake up to the climate crisis?