New global data describing excess human mortality of climate change is alarming but true. It is here - unprecedented bushfires, smoke related illness, and in more lethal forms. More Australians have died from heat since 1900 than from all other natural disasters combined. We have known this for years, yet like climate scientists our concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
Professor Jennifer Martin's public resignation from University of Newcastle council is a courageous act, where many have faltered due to fear of personal and professional consequences.
Hospitals admit many extra people during heatwaves. Some of them die, hence heat is "the silent killer". Based on health concerns, in 2019 the AMA and specialist medical colleges, said that "Climate change is a public health emergency". Then COVID arrived, distracting everyone. Last year, a group of former chief veterinary officers predicted that zoonotic pandemics will escalate on a warming planet. Just as our fire chiefs predicted that summer we will never forget.
Disaster mitigation - the stage of disaster management where most gains are made (i.e. before an event occurs) dictates that more lives are saved here at less cost. Global warming is a risk multiplier for most natural disasters including heatwaves, yet Australia continues as a laggard on the world stage when it comes to carbon emission reductions.
Despite bushfires and their smoke that touched us all, the urgency of decarbonisation is downplayed. Now we have a "gas fired recovery" from COVID. Climate crisis is sold as ideology, not a scientific and health emergency.
A technologic fix, the current proposition - with vagueness around targets is not a credible strategic plan. Legislated emissions targets will get us to zero net emission -pricing carbon emissions, stopping deforestation and other measures. To shy away from targets is a failure of leadership - politics above the laws of physics.
As decarbonisation laggards, we risk irreversible biosystem failure, increasing natural disasters, famine, and heat related deaths of vulnerable people: a moral legacy akin to that of genocide.
Fortunately, we still have time to decide: an abject moral failure with far reaching consequences, or choose a path that prioritises human lives. It's our task to make this change fast or face an unthinkable legacy. We must make our leaders act.