Whilst millions were enjoying the fireworks in Sydney on New Year’s Eve, it was revealed that around 500 million animals have died in the Australian fires, including a third of koalas in their New South Wales habitat. I can hardly get my head around that figure but it does bring home, in the most powerful way imaginable, the sheer scale of the catastrophe unfolding down under.
I feel even more perplexed by the decision of the authorities to allow the fireworks display in Sydney to go ahead because, quite frankly, it’s taking the piss. It’s shocking enough to hear that human beings are being killed and injured and thousands are losing their homes but the destruction of wildlife is truly appalling. Fire works, all right.
Australia will be a very different place when these fires are finally put out. It certainly should be. Whilst we cannot put a single event down to climate change, extreme events like these are made more frequent and more catastrophic by climate change. This together with the endless drought in Australia must surely mean the country should wake-up and smell – well, the smoke.
And this is all happening at a time when Australia is stepping up its campaign to encourage people to move there for a better life. Pop princess Kylie Minogue, no less, is front and centre of the campaign. But how much better?
We know the sun shines down under and these days the weather does little else. Of course the prospect of endless sunshine, beach BBQs and cold tinnies is an inviting one, but not necessarily when the country is literally on fire.
And those five hundred million animals.
If climate predictions, based on sound scientific evidence, are correct, some parts of the world will be inhabitable before too long. The Indian ocean will flood thousand of islands, Australia will continue to burn, the ice caps will melt until they are no more.
Most of us will be long dead by the time the worse consequences of climate change are visited upon us, so we can carry on looking at the fireworks. We are children, really; all of us. We think we can carry on as now forever and a day and everything will magically right itself. It won’t though.