A climate disaster of unimaginable proportions has been playing out at the doorstep of the very modern metropolis of Sydney. There have been 20 deaths, houses have been reduced to smithereens, 480 million animals, including cuddly koalas, may have been exterminated and about 12 million acres are burning or reduced to cinder as the flames simply moved on. The devastated area, mostly on the southeastern coast, besides South Australia and Western Australia, is twice as big as the area hit by Siberian fires last year and five times 2019’s Amazon and California fires.
Its Down Under moniker is symbolic of the West’s apathy to the great tragedy taking place in Australia, and the southern summer has barely begun. The scale of the disaster is exemplified in communities that may have lost entire towns in rural Australia and seeking shelter on beaches, being evacuated by sea.
What renders the scenario so inhuman is the inability of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government to even accept that the raging fires are emblematic of the world having crossed the tipping point in global warming/climate change. Will mankind contemplate what the cataclysmic cycle of devastation portends as extreme events are getting increasingly fiercer and threatening human life as never before? It appears the forces of denial, starting with the one ensconced in the White House, are winning the perception war.
Mr Morrison, a Trump admirer, not only campaigned on a pitch against climate action and became PM but also took a Hawaiian holiday he cut short only when the gravity of the bushfires registered. The lady who shouted “idiot” at him may have done so out of frustration. But how foolish can a world be which refuses to even agree on battling climate change, as we saw in Madrid quite recently?