Monday, September 27, 2021

Video: Life at 50C - The families forced to defend their homes from Australian bushfires (BBC)

This short BBC documentary investigates the climate change impacts of extreme heat and bushfires. It articulates climate change is here and now. It will get worse. But there are things we can do to change the direction of global warming.

The 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires were catastrophic. Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison trivialised the fires and then went for a holidaying in Hawaii, absent at the time when the catastrophic fires were growing. The Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor gave a speech to delegates at the COP25 UN Climate Conference in Madrid and completely failed to mention the disastrous bushfire season.

There are solutions. We need to reduce emissions rapidly. Phaseout coal and gas and ramp up renewables with battery and pumped hydro storage. Build additional renewables and build electrolysers to generate hydrogen as an energy storage fuel.

We need to change urban design and building surfaces as part of our urban adaptation. Develop and deliver an Australian Trees and Biodiversity Plan for biodiversity conservation of species feeling the impacts of climate change.

And we need to change the politics. Yes set a net zero by 2050 target, but we also need to set an ambitous 2030 interim emissions target of at least 50% emissions reduction. 

Great interviews with scientists Dr Sarah Perkins Kirkpatrick (Google Scholar) and Dr Sebastian Pfautsch (Google Scholar) on climate impacts and solutions. India MacDonell gives a powerful first hand account of facing the bushfires in Gippsland, protecting her house during the Black Summer bushfires.

In my article on Climate Change and heatwaves in Melbourne in the Biodiversity section I detailed the impact of extreme heat on Flying foxes based on the research of Justin Welbergen (Google Scholar)  (who appears in this BBC video) and others and an extreme heat bat death incident in January 2014:

Heatwave and rising temperatures will also take it's toll on urban wildlife and flora which may produce ecosystem changes. Larger bat species like the Grey Headed Flying Fox are a signature species which have a temperature intolerance to heat at 41-42C which may impact ecosystem services such as pollination and seed dispersal. (Welbergen, Klose, Markus and Eby 2008) The heatwave in 2014 in southern Queensland took a massive toll on this species particularly affecting young and lactating females.

The Climate Change Performance Index is published each year. Australia ranks near the bottom. Read the current CCPI assessment. A New assessment of the CCPI will be released during COP26 in Glasgow.

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