THE devastating impact of raging bushfires, especially in NSW and Queensland, has generated discussion about the effects of climate change and the dangers Australia faces in a warming environment.
Politicians, depending on their political hue, either want to dampen debate on global warming in the emergency, saying it’s “not the right time to talk about climate change”, while others are keen to use the topic as a means of pressing their point on the “new reality”.
Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Cr Simon Brooks said it’s “never a wrong time to speak about climate change”.
“With the year-on-year trend of native forests drying across much of Australia and the declaration of fire seasons being expanded almost on a yearly basis, there is now a stark indicator of the effects of climate change that can actually be seen by people,” he said.
“The discussion around the link and how we mitigate and adapt must be had otherwise no solutions will be forthcoming. It is the inflammatory side of the discussion that should not occur. It should not be a debate – [discussion] should be focused on building awareness and finding solutions.”
Cr Brooks said “those in power” had a responsibility “to take all reasonable steps to act on that risk”.
“At a local council level, we are doing exactly that. However, I’m growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of awareness shown by some of our politicians at both state and federal level. The insistence of not treating this risk seriously is reckless.”
He said laws in other jurisdictions, such as laws covering workplace safety, made it mandatory to act on identified risk or risk criminal penalties because people’s health and safety are at stake.
“What’s different with a failure to act on climate change?” Cr Brooks said. “Perhaps [it’s] because it’s only the health and safety of the entire living planet that’s at stake.”