With hurricane Sandy still in our minds, the year began with another catastrophy as a result of climate change: Australia experiences a record heat! It can easily be seen that this is not a usual heat wave as the Australian weather office had to introduce a new colour to show temperature forecasts of more than 54 degrees Celsius! So, it is no surprise that many parts of the country face record temperatures and dangerous forest fires.
Julia Gillard, the Premier of the country that is lagging behind when it comes to climate action, clearly stated that Australia will face extreme weather like this more often in the future because of climate change. Moreover, the Guardian also claims that such heat waves (like the ones that caused ten thousands of deaths in Europe in 2003 and in Russia in 2010) will be 5 to 10 times more likely in the next 40 years, not to mention floods, thunderstorms, droughts and other catastrophies.
The facts are clear: 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in the US, ten of the eleven warmest years globally were recorded in the last eleven years and the Arctic sea faced a record melt last September. And on our disastrous road to a world that will on average be 4 degrees warmer in 2100 (or even by 2060 as feared by the World Economic Forum) the Guardian reminds us that some reasons like the Middle East or Northern Africa would be hit even harder with a temperature increase of up to 6 degrees Celsius.
But in the face of the current economic crisis and particularly the Euro crisis in the EU, for many decision-makers 2100 or even 2050 seems far away, although they could already be confronted with a temperature increase of 3 degrees Celsius by then. During these times, when more and more politicians don”t want to see the big picture, the World Economic Forum adds some structure to these complex challenges: According to its new “Global Risks Report“, global economic imbalances, rising carbon emissions and increasing inequality are the biggest global risks.
Therefore, we should never forget that we’re not only in the middle of an economic crisis but actually facing an economic, social and ecological crisis with interdependent risks and challenges. As a result, this multifaceted crisis requires interdisciplinary and comprehensive action instead of the usual political responses. There’s an urgency for alternatives in all areas of our lives whether it’s fair tax schemes, sustainable energy production or steady-state / degrowth economics that need to lead us to a resilient, sustainable, livable, and just society.