Friday, 15 February 2013

....... AND NOW FOR THE WEATHER ....


WEATHER

 

Some people do weather.

My mother is nearly 92 and she does weather. I live in Melbourne, she lives up north near Brisbane in an Aged Care Center. We communicate at least once a week over the phone and invariably when I ask how she’s doing, she replies with a comprehensive weather report. In fact, she’s always done that.

   I moved to Melbourne in 1970 from Sydney. She and my father were living on the Central Coast of New South Wales about 50 miles north of Sydney at the time and whenever I called them, mum would always give me a rundown on how hot, cold, warm, mild, wet, dry, stormy or fine the weather had been up there over the past few days.

   I’m not much into weather myself and I must admit, to my shame, there have been occasions when I lost patience with her and pointed out that I wasn’t phoning her for a weather update. To no avail, because the next time I called she’d again start off the conversation with a weather report!

   It’s not as if my mum is dotty – her mind is as sharp as a razor, even if her body is failing. It’s just that she’s into weather.

   Which brings me to the subject I want to talk about – weather.

   Melbourne is enjoying one of the most pleasant summers I can recall (touch wood!), with daytime temperatures ranging from the low 70s to the mid-90s, with the hot days broken up by regular cool changes and the odd shower. On the other hand, other parts of Australia have experienced the hottest temperatures on record, raging bushfires, fierce cyclonic storms, bucketing rain and catastrophic floods.

   And, of course, the northern hemisphere winter has been one of the coldest and wettest, with record low temperatures, snowfalls, storms and blizzards.

   Now you’d have to be blind Freddy not to see something’s going on. Obviously there is a cause behind these extremes. Despite the mounting evidence put up by scientists confirming global warming, melting ice caps etc., as well as mankind’s contribution to polluting the planet and its atmosphere, the climate skeptics refuse to acknowledge that this could be a contributing factor to our ‘weather problem’. Hello, is anybody home?

   One of their arguments is that the scientific data isn’t reliable or conclusive enough to justify taking assertive action and cutting back on fossil fuel emissions and introducing other environmentally-friendly alternatives. Why? Because it will be costly.

   Even if the global warming advocates are wrong, as the climate skeptics claim, what have we got to lose by substituting dirty energy with clean energy? In the short term, no doubt there will be economic pain as the old ways give way to the new.

   But surely this is a small price to pay to clean up the mess we’ve made, regardless of its impact on the climate?

   However, what if the climate change advocates are right and mankind’s collective greed, ignorance and shortsightedness are impacting our weather, causing catastrophes, death and untold economic damage and hardship? Have the skeptics put a cost on that?

   What are the climate skeptics going to tell their children and grandchildren if they’re wrong? “Duh, wasn’t our fault. The scientists are to blame. They couldn’t provide conclusive, categorical and absolute evidence that they were right and we were wrong!”

   No one seems to have bothered to ask the climate skeptics about what scientific evidence they can provide to support their arguments. Curious.

   These people, in my opinion, have been given too much press and credibility. Their arguments are vacuous, simple-minded and self-serving.

   Maybe it’s time we all (including me) decided to ‘do weather’. Not just talk about it - but take a stand in supporting the measures to reduce carbon emissions, regardless of their impact on costs. If, over time, the number of natural disasters are reduced as a consequence, or the scale of their destruction is diminished, at the very least, it would be a great return on our investment. Oh yes, maybe it would mean our children and their children would have a better world in which to live.     

   Let’s clean up our act as well as our planet.