Tag Archives: heat

#climatechange, #refugees and business as usual

Photo courtesy www.wolaver.org

Photo courtesy http://www.wolaver.org

North Africa and the Middle East too hot for human life?

Yes, that is the upshot from this article from Quartz.

If you care about how your children will be living in 50 years time, I highly recommend reading the whole article.

If you don’t have the time to read the whole thing I’ll boil it down to this:

  • climate change will push the populations of North Africa and the Middle East out of North Africa and the Middle East,
  • those populations will become refugees
  • where will those refugees go?

The article ends with this:

The last couple years have shown that the world is pretty bad at managing large-scale migration, but that may turn out to be a mere trial-run for things to come.

As an Australian living half a world away from North Africa and the Middle East, I should be immune to the problems of that area, right?


If climate change makes North Africa and the Middle East unlivable, it will do the same in the Pacific area…in my own backyard.

There are island nations in the Pacific – e.g. Tuvalu – which are already close to being submerged. What happens to the populations of these island nations when their homes are finally covered by the sea?

I can tell you they will not wait around to go down with the ship. They will become refugees too.

Where will they go? I think Australia is a pretty safe bet.

Now multiply these two examples with the number of low-lying countries in the world, and you can see why we have to come up with some effective, efficient and equitable way of helping people move out of harm’s way.

Climate change is not going away. Refugees are not going away. This problem is not going away because, apart from the rhetoric, our governments have chosen to do nothing about climate change. It’s too hard. It’ll cost too much money. Voters won’t like it. So let’s do nothing and hope the problem goes away [see pic at the beginning of this post].

But in real life, you make a choice, even when you choose to do nothing. It’s called the default option. For us, that means ‘adaptation’.

Do you know what adaptation means? It means dealing with a disaster after it happens and living, or dying, with the consequences. It ain’t pretty and one of the inevitable consequences will be mass migrations, the likes of which we cannot even imagine.

I probably won’t be around to suffer too much, but what about the Offspring? Or your offspring?

And for those who do not believe that ‘we’ could possibly have an impact on the Earth’s climate, have a look at this:

Photo courtesy NASA

Photo courtesy NASA

This is the US of A, photographed at night, from space. See all those bright lights? Those are cities filled with people eating, sleeping, driving their cars, working. Those people are creating carbon dioxide [and other] pollutants just by living their lives. And the US is just one developed country.

As individuals, we are like individual sticks – easily broken. But put us all together and even a giant can’t break us. That is my version of the old Aesops fable.

But that story has a darker, more modern version as well, and it goes something like this – as individuals, we are powerless to destroy the Earth, but put all 8 billion of us together and the Earth doesn’t stand a chance.

Climate change >> refugees >> a problem we cannot ignore.



Fire – what it’s really like

Sometimes fate works in unexpected ways! Fire season is almost over again for another year, but the close calls this season prompted me to buy a novel called ‘The Spark’. It’s a fictional story with an incredible ring of authenticity to it because it’s written by a bonafide fire-fighter, John Kenny. Kenny is Canadian, not Australian, but that doesn’t matter because fire respects no boundaries or artificial borders.

“Interesting,” you say with a yawn. “But choosing to read a book about fire is hardly serendipty!”

“Indeed,” I say, with a smirk. “But reading an article by Kenny that describes the reality of fire – the day after finishing his book – is.”

The article in question was written for Indies Unlimited, under the ‘getting it right’ banner. These articles provide writers with much needed information so their descriptions etc ring true. But this authenticity can also be valuable to those of us who have never come face to face with a real fire – in the bush or anywhere else for that matter. Let me give you a sample of what Kenny wrote :

The theatre manager told us we would have to leave if we couldn’t be quiet. A group of fellow firefighters and I were howling with laughter as we watched “Backdraft”. Kurt Russell was dashing through a blazing inferno, coat open, boots rolled down and with no breathing apparatus.

Even the rawest recruit knew that in real life Russell would be dead two steps in.’

I remember that movie, and I think it has coloured how I imagine a blazing fire ever since. However when Kenny continued on to describe the smoke in a real fire, all the news reports about Black Saturday suddenly clunked into place. You see, somehow I hadn’t really believed that a bushfire could turn day into night….

You’ll find the link to the whole of Kenny’s article at the end of this post, and I’d recommend EVERYONE read it, but first I’d like to say a few things about Kenny’s novel.

1. It is not some dry memoir full of facts, with the barest nod to story. It’s not a memoir at all. The Spark is a tight, well told story with a great plot that will keep you reading because you won’t be able to sleep until you know what happens next!

2. The characters in The Spark are not action heroes. They are not cookie cutouts. They are not there just to push the story along. Even the most minor characters have depth and personality while the major ones are people you would love to know in real life. Well, maybe not all of them. Let’s just say the villains of the piece are people who could exist, and probably do, but you really, really wouldn’t want to mess with them.

3. The story is not formulaic. Like life itself, the story depicted in The Spark does not have a perfect ending. But it’s the only ending that fits.

4. Despite being a debut novel, The Spark is beautifully written, with just the right balance between scene setting, action and introspection.

In short, The Spark is one hell of a good book even though it isn’t science fiction. 🙂 Read it people!

And now for that link :




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