'To be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true.'
The warning cannot be any clearer:
"Australians, and the rest of the world's citizens, must prepare to cope with a world that will be hotter than at any time in the history of the human species.”
That's according to Professor Lesley Hughes at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University and lead author of the most recent IPCC report.
Summarising some of the anticipated impacts, Professor Hughes stated:
"We will continue to see an increase in the impacts of extreme events such as heat waves, cyclones, droughts and bushfires, changed rainfall patterns, increased ocean acidification, and rising sea levels.
"The real fear is that at some point in the next few decades, without serious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we will pass a tipping point in the earth's climate system."
In case anyone doubted both the seriousness and urgency of the climate crisis, Professor Hughes also had this to say:
"We don't know where or when this could happen, but if it does, the very future of most species on the planet, including us, is in doubt.”
Warnings don't come any more stark or blunt from the scientific community as this.
We should be paying attention to the increasing number of scientists shedding their usual reticence to speak in such a direct and unambiguous manner.
However, as members of the public, there are only three facts you need to know about the climate crisis.
Fact one: We're seeing an increase in climate extremes which will increase in intensity
The debate is well and truly over. We are experiencing the impacts of climate change today. Without series reductions in greenhouse emissions what is now a crisis risks becoming a catastrophe.
Even the World Bank is deeply concerned about the future:
Fact two: We have 20 years to prevent the worst impacts
At best, we have 20 years to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions before condemning untold species – and ourselves – to possible extinction.
The window of opportunity to prevent the worst impacts is narrowing — and fast.
Consider this: should Tony Abbott stay in power for two terms, almost half that window of opportunity will be lost — at least in terms of Australia's meaningful contribution.
This brings me to the third – and most important – fact.
Fact three: Change governments and you change the climate
The most important fact is that there is a one-to-one correlation between governments in power and the future of the climate and that of our species.
Government policies that control emissions and subsidising the renewable energy sector are the most effective means to bring down emissions.
Governments are responsible for treaties to reduce emissions.
For this reason, the first step to solving the climate crisis has to be a political one.
Before policies designed to mitigate climate change can be put into place for the eventual taming of the fossil fuel industry, a cleansing need to take place.
The politicians or political parties delaying or blocking action need to be democratically removed from office. Likewise, they must be prevented from regaining power.
A new generation of leaders needs brought to power to deal with the challenges ahead.
Change the government and you change a country's greenhouse emissions.
Change the government as a necessary step towards preventing catastrophe.
The future state of the climate depends on the actions of today's politicians.
Ask yourself, are they doing enough?
Next steps: One Term Tony, animating the “Progressive Coalition” and campaigns of civil disobedience
The question we need to ask ourselves today is this: What can we do today?
A start would to be to restrict the Abbott government to a single term. Turn #OneTermTony into a reality.
But there is more that we can do.
As the recent March in March proved, there are many ordinary Australians wanting Abbott and his Government removed from power.
This demonstrates a “Progressive Coalition” exists. You and I are not alone. We can organise ourselves effectively.
Once organised, we should begin campaigns of lawful protest and non-violent civil disobedience.
Each year we waste brings us closer to a future of the likes Professor Hughes so starkly described.
But we must lead from below, removing those who impede progress and installing those with the courage to take action.
The future is not here yet.
But we must remain hopeful we have the opportunity to shape it.
You can follow Mike Marriott on Twitter @WTDeniers.
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